Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Selling Popcorn

It was a big dog, and it was barking.

We were going up to our very first house, and this dog was standing at the chain-link fence barking fiercely at us.

Timothy (9) had already reached his goal for the year by walking solo in another neighborhood and via phone. For this street, Stephen (8) and Jonah (6) were going to tag-team the sales. It was Jonah's first time ever selling popcorn door-to-door. Stephen had done this last year. But last year, it had been Timothy as the lead seller as Stephen tagged along. Now Stephen was the lead with Jonah in tow.

Jonah walked past the dog and gave it a little wave. Spittle flew from the dog's mouth as it barked, just a few feet from Jonah's face. Jonah, clipboard in hand, kept walking to the door.


Not seeing Stephen on the walkway with us, I turned to look for him. He was standing far out on the driveway, looking at the big, barking dog.

I yelled across the yard, "It can't get out of the fence. Are you scared of the dog?"

Stephen looked at me with huge eyes and nodded.

"Okay," I said. "You can stay there." The original plan was for the boys to alternate, with one of them ringing doorbells and pitching until he got a sale, and then the other one would have a turn. Stephen was supposed to go first in order to show Jonah how it was done (we had practiced in the car on the drive over). This was supposed to be Stephen's house. Completely, utterly, and totally in a non-judgmentalor pressured way, I called out to Stephen, "Jonah will do this house, and you can have the next one."

By the time we got to the door, Stephen was right there beside us. "Jonah needs me to show him how it's done."


Nobody was home. When we walked back past the fence, the dog was gone. I kept waiting for it to jump back out at us, but it never did.

I'm not the kind of person to generalize from a single incident (actually, I am), but I kept seeing this behavior the rest of the two hours we spent walking.

Jonah was oblivious, in a kind of manic state. Someone could have shown up at the door with a bloody chainsaw in hand and Jonah would have said, simply, "Hi, my name is Jonah and this is my brother Stephen. We're selling popcorn to support our Cub Scout Pack. Would you like to help?"

(Actually, whenever Jonah said the spiel, there was a massive pause between the opening of the door and the first sentence, and between each phrase thereafter. And his voice got sillier, higher, and faster as he went along, so that at the end of "help?" he was pretty unintelligible. People were nice, though.)

Stephen, on the other hand, was not enjoying himself (he didn't join us yesterday when we went back out). But when the time came and it was his turn, he smiled, looked the people in the eye and said, "Hello. My name is Stephen and this is my brother Jonah . . ."

People were nicer in this neighborhood. Maybe it was because of the demographics, maybe it was because we had younger and cuter kids with us. But nobody said no to Stephen and Jonah. Over half of the houses had nobody home. But everyone who was home bought something.

It was different with Timothy. On the street he did (on the same days of the week and at the same times of day), we had similar proportions of people not home. But of the ones who were home, over half said "No." Most at least said, "No thank you." But at least a few said, "I don't want to."

Now, I'm not one of those folks who sees anti-male bias everywhere I turn (actually, I am). But this really startled me. I'll try it again next year and switch neighborhoods.

Anyway, Jonah and Timothy have reached their $200 goal and will be able to throw a pie (actually, a paper plate piled with whipped cream) into the face of "a den leader." This will most likely be me, as I'm the Tiger Den Leader this year.

Stephen is still about $60 off this goal, but he and I will be going to our own neighborhood on Thursday. If you have a massive hankering for Cub Scout/Boy Scout popcorn, let me know. But do it quickly, because we turn in the sheets on Sunday.

(P.S. This is not a beg for money. Stephen will make his goal. But if you love CS/BS popcorn and haven't been able to get your fix this year, we will be happy to provide this service for you. Seriously.)

Wrist update:
Still broken.

Seriously, though. I was supposed to go back to the Dr. next Thursday, but he called and moved it back another week. It doesn't hurt, except when I type.


At 9:21 PM, Anonymous the Hannah Clan said...

If it means we actually get to see your family when you deliver it or we pick it up, count us in!

We have a running annual popcorn order from our friends in Florida, but they will never know if we get a second one from somewhere else.

You are a great writer even handicapped.

Where do we send the dough?

At 9:24 PM, Anonymous the Hannah Clan said...

PS Chocolate. The smallish chocolate order is what we're sayin'.

Caramel will do too.

We just assume you sell the same thing as the Floridians.

At 10:14 AM, Blogger fiorinda said...

My sister always sold my girl scout cookies for me. I would stand behind her and she'd say "Hi my name is ___ and I'm selling girl scout cookies for my sister, would you like to buy some?"

In high school I made my parents pay for my trips, we sold exciting things in band, like Mug o'Nuts--peanuts in a glass mug with your favorite sports team.

Now I just flat out refuse to do fund raisers. I feel a little sorry for my kids that they won't get the exciting prizes, but not sorry enough to sell Sally Foster.

You are a good Dad.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger Becki said...

Hey! We didn't get to buy OURS! I wanted to buy one can from each boy, but now I suppose it's too late! G-r-r-r-r-r

I better be on that list!

Your loving Mom


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