Yesterday afternoon, I took a late, slightly drawn out lunch break to shop at Marshalls for a few new things to wear for my trip this weekend. By the time I was returning to the street where I work, I was all red faced and sweaty from the heat (like 85!) and also kinda, sorta really late. I parked my car on the street because our parking lot is really sketchy and I suspect that ne'er-do-wells lurk under the cars, holding knives in their teeth like Captain Hook's pirates.
So I'm half-running back to the office, when I see this kid walking in the middle of the street up ahead. I slow down, for some reason. And then he starts to walk toward me. He must be like 6 and he's carrying this little wooden box. Oh dear. He's going to try to sell me something. Oh I can't say no! (Also I'm sort of hoping he's peddling bags of peanut m&ms because those would hit the spot right about now.)
"Would you like to buy an Easter card for charity?" he mumbles shyly. Well isn't he just precious. And when is Easter, btw? I have no idea. Maybe I should buy a card. "It's one dollar," he says.
"Uh. Sure." And I beging rummaging in my purse for a dollar bill. Seeing as I have cash on me about .2% percent of the time, I wasn't surprised when I couldn't find a single freakin' bill in my wallet. But I had lots of change floating around in there and so I dug up four quarters. (And parting with quarters in these paying for laundry times is a grand gesture, let me tell you...)
By the time I had all of the quarters in my hand and looked back down at him, he was holding out the card for me. It was homemade. All white, with the face of a dog drawn on it with black marker and a little speech bubble coming out of its mouth saying "Happy Easter."
So part of me was like, "Cute! He's making his own cards and selling them. How productive and artistic."
And then, honestly, part of me wanted to revoke my offer and lecture him about making false claims about charities. But of course, I didn't. I'm not a jerk. I get that it's better to support his efforts. I bought his little card and we went our separate ways.
When I told a coworker about this encounter (because I feel the need to tell everybody everything that happens to me in order to share my wondrous life with the world), he suggested that perhaps the kid was only earning 10 cents on that dollar and forced to give the rest to some drug lord. So, apparently, the reality of the situation is some combination of these three things:
1. I am tragically naive.
2. The world is worse off than I'd originally suspected.
3. My coworker grew up on The Wrong Side Of The Tracks.
And this whole experience got me thinking about the way we as adults react to kids selling things. I can recall my sister and I, sitting at the end of our driveway when we were like 8 and 6, selling snow cones made from our Snoopy snow cone maker. And nobody bought them. Or when we painted rocks that we'd collected from Myrtle Beach and tried to sell them --considering them works of art on imported stone-- and nobody bought them. And then as I got older and had the ability to grow bitter, I'd walk from door to door selling candy to raise money for marching band, and one neighbor after the next would say no and I'd wonder why they couldn't find it in their hearts to buy some stupid candy just to save me from having to walk away from their house feeling bad about myself. Seriously, you give me one lousy dollar and you get to enjoy a king size pack of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. That's 4 cups. You can eat them all now, or eat them later. You can put half of them in your freezer. You can give them to your grandkids for snack time and then they will love you even more. Just buy my fucking candy you assholes!
In fact, the only time I didn't have a hard time in sales was when I was a girl scout. Everyone wanted to buy cookies. They'd order themselves 20 boxes. "I freeze them so I can eat them year round," they'd say. Hoarding food like bears preparing for hibernation. And so they throw their money at the girl scouts. Devoted customers year after year even though the price per box consistently increases and even though they keep changing the names of things and even though they sometimes get rid of the good cookies and replace them with weird lowfat ones that are always lemon flavored. Who the fuck craves lemon? Have you ever heard a woman say, "God, I have my period this week. I seriously need some lemon heads." No. You haven't. Which is why they need to make more chocolate flavored cookies. But they don't care what YOU want.
You know who does care? The other kids who are selling m&ms and kit kats and crunch bars. But your dollars are too good for them. You're saving up for the girl scout cookie feast.
Anyway, my point is: Give a kid a fucking break and buy something once in a while. It's good for their work ethic. Maybe if more people had bought stuff from me when I was a kid (and maybe if I drank less these days) I wouldn't have lost my desire to work hard.
Also, would anyone like an Easter card? I've got to give this thing to someone to get my money's worth.
UPDATE: My sister Katie requested to see the card. Here it is. Not bad, eh? Better than my artwork.