I realized yesterday after I pushed publish that I had forgotten to include what was by far the most exciting part of Sunday, the Girl Scout Cookie Booth.
The kids have been in scouts for two years now. It’s a casual affair compared to the Boy Scouts, which was a bit more keen on uniform wearing and oath taking. The girls’ troop is laid back by comparison. They have a meeting every two weeks during the school year, have a couple camping trips or outings, and sell some cookies.
The troop only asked me for money when I signed up and provided the girls with uniforms; I’ve never been asked for a membership fee. This is in spite of us doing the absolute minimum on the cookie sales years past. I said ‘two years’ earlier, but it was actually three. COVID was kind of a lost year there.
Regardless, my point is that we’ve been slacking off and I wanted the girls to actually put some effort into it, which naturally means I have to lead. So I’ve been pushing them the last couple weeks to make their commitments and get the sales form out to the neighbors and in-laws so that we wouldn’t be last on the sale results.
We were last on the sales results.
Part of doing our job meant running a cookie booth, a two hour shift in front of a local Walmart. I was mostly prepared to go on my own, but I felt that I’d been carrying most of the load on the scouting endeavor, and I really wanted Missus to participate. She relented, for which I was grateful, and Elder’s troopmaster had volunteered to go. Her daughter apparently took a liking to the activity, and I offered to bring her, but scouting rules required that a registered member be present at the event.
So we all went, the four of us, plus the troopmaster and her daughter. We set up our table at 2PM Sunday, taking over the spot from another troop. Everything was great, foot traffic was substantial and we wound up selling more than a hundred and eighty boxes of cookies. I think we walked out of there with over eight hundred in cash. But there was one moment that got very tense and almost got out of control.
I was in the flow, having found my sales patter and running credit cards and cash. At one point I was ringing a woman up and noticed that something going on in front of our table was not quite right. Missus sounded the alarm, telling me to “get the kids”. Two men were arguing with each other. One of them seemed like a middle class guy, and the other was a homeless dude who was severely agitated and screaming threats and profanities at the first guy.
Fight or flight started to kick in, and me, the troopmaster, and the lady I had been selling to all switched gears to round up the kids. We tried to move them away from our table, and I tried to put myself between them and this perceived threat, who was yelling “I’ll fuck you up man, I’m in the motherfucking mafia”, at the other guy.
Enter Missus. She’s a clinically trained social worker, and constantly deals with mentally ill patients. Within a minute she had pulled the homeless guy aside and had walked him several feet away from the table. Within two she was back, saying “sometimes, people just need to be heard.” I was grateful she was there, otherwise I don’t know what would have happened.
Needless to say, she was drained after we got back. As was I, having made several trips back and forth to prepare and cleanup for the booth. We were both a bit drained from the experience and joked about it afterward.
The strangest part of the whole situation is that I don’t even think the kids noticed that anything was going on. Like it didn’t even register.