I was on a conference call trying to herd one of my flocks of cats into enough order to get a “mail box money ” deal done when the front door bell sounded and I heard Mary greet someone and invite them in. The front room of our office is usually dimly lit and initially I thought that the young girl that came in was my granddaughter, Virginia. However, I soon overheard Mary buying six boxes of Girl Scout Cookies from the young lady and this created an immediate personal dilemma.
Doing my little deals contributes greatly to supporting my ability to write my stories, put out this little letter, pay Kroger and the mortgage company, but the mention of Girl Scout cookies disrupted my concentration and set off a Pavlovian response. The mere mention of chocolate mint thins causes me to salivate profusely, increases my heart rate and greatly dulls my sales resistance. This is simply to say that I have a predisposition to buy Girl Scout cookies.
Subconsciously, I was prepared to purchase, the only questions was how many boxes, and all of this flew out the window when ten year old Miss Hannah Johnston waltzed into my office. Hannah stood in front of my desk with her hands on her hips and an “I’m getting impatient” look on her face. She rolled her eyes and picked up a yellow post pad and wrote me a note explaining that she represented the Girl Scouts of America and was here to do business and that I needed to get off the telephone.
I ditched my business call as soon as I could and turned my full attention to Miss Johnston, who proceeded to explain to me that the many and varied programs and activities of the GSA movement were financed almost entirely by the annual sale of cookies. She then touched briefly on the benefits to our community delivered by the GSA. At this point, I mentioned that I intended to purchase a couple of boxes of chocolate thin mints and maybe we could dispense with the sales pitch.
Hannah gave me a withering look and said,
“I find it surprising that you are not interested in the GSA programs, if you really understood the scope of our efforts, you would be anxious to support us.”
“Oh, I am anxious to buy some cookies,” I replied, “let’s do a deal.”
I noticed the glint of triumph in Hannah’s eyes, something akin to the stare that the wolf gives the bunny just before he delivers the coup de grâce. She immediately closed for the kill,
“How many cases of each flavor do you want?” She opened.
Cases, I thought, what happened to boxes? I managed to mutter something about a couple of boxes of thin mint cookies would be nice.
Hannah mused for a moment and said,
“Well, I suppose that I could break a case if you just can’t afford the whole thing, but it would be better for you to think in terms of cases, not boxes.”
“How many boxes in a case?” I managed to choke out.
“Twelve,” she replied, “and there are a half a dozen flavors. I intend to be the number one salesman in the whole Alabama Girl Scout Council and I can hardly do that allowing people to buy a few boxes each. If your preference is to buy a couple of boxes, you should just stop by Kroger and buy them from the girl’s whose Mommies are doing all the work for them. I provide a service by coming to your office and delivering my cookies in person. My Mom isn’t doing my work for me.”
Having already re-calibrated my cookie needs to cases rather than boxes, I sought to deflect this little selling machine by asking,
“How many boxes will you have to sell to be number one?”
“Last year some girl who’s Daddy owns a big company in Mobile sold 2,500 boxes, I figure to be safe I need to sell at least 3,000.”
I quickly calculated that 3,000 boxes at $3.50 each would be over $10,000. I asked,
“How many have you sold so far?”
“Before you complete your purchase, I have sold over 2,800 boxes, but I still have eight days to go. I have you down for a case of thin mints, and I think you’d really enjoy a case of lemonades. Your total would be $42.00 for both cases, unless there were other flavors you’d be interested in.”
Sensing an escape route opening up, I quickly agreed to the two case deal, wrote Hannah a check and walked with her as she left my office. I watched as she crossed the busy street and headed to the Opelika Police Department just across the street. (I later learned that she sold multiple cases to the boys in blue, too bad she didn’t have a doughnut flavor to offer.)
I walked back to my desk to resume my interrupted phone call confident it two things; free enterprise is safe and thriving in a whole new generation and that I had just purchased more Girl Scout Cookies than I had ever eaten in the past 72 years.
Categories: As I Like It!
Great story, Tom. I’m looking forward to meeting you at the Murrah reunion. Really enjoyed your book. I passed it on to Gen. Roger Shields, who was raised in Water Valley and is a former Chief of Staff for the MS National Guard. He knew a couple of the Guard characters you mentioned in the book.
TOM THANKS I ENJOYED THAT SO MUCH GAVE ME A GOOD LAUGH , AND I COULD JUST SEE THAT LITTLE GIRL PULLING YOUR CHAIN YOU HAVE A BIG HEART ,