"You wouldn't believe it," my friend typed over group chat. "There was a little Girl Scout walking up and down the long line of cars waiting to get COVID tests, selling cookies! Going up to the windows of potentially sick people and hawking her goods. It was outrageous! I mean, I bought four boxes, but still! Outrageous!"
Selling Girl Scout Cookies ain't what it used to be.
At least the cookie seller in the COVID-19 line harks back to the old days of setting up tables in front of groceries and car washes. (Not that I -- or, I imagine, the Girl Scouts of America -- condone putting our youths in direct contact with the potentially ill. In fact, I'm pretty sure we're both emphatically against it.) Most of the cookie sales I've been privy to over the past few years have come from online.
For over a month now, I've been receiving auto-generated email after email from kindergartners asking whether I'm interested in supporting and securing the future of females through the purchase of Do-si-dos. "Share the joy. Change the world," the first email instructed. Or was that the follow-up email? As a big fan of both sharing joy and changing the world for a friendlier future, I found that the messaging certainly hit its mark. I may be a proud feminist, but I'm an even prouder cookie lover. And after a year that's felt as if we've all been pelted with lemons, those Lemonades are looking mighty delicious. But still.
Something about the new selling technique leaves me a tad queasy. Staring at the avatar of my friend's adorable 5-year-old reminding me through an elegant and persistent email campaign that it's not too late to buy one more box is as effective as it is unsettling. (Luckily, I've got my box of Thin Mints to settle an upset stomach.) I suddenly understand my grandpa Bill's asking me why I didn't just get myself a nice paper route when I was a kid. His nostalgia for the way things used to be done overpowered his acceptance for the way things are today. Maybe I'm just getting old, I think to myself, biting into a nice shortbread Trefoil. Why did I ever think these were the lame cookie?
As a kid, I loved cookie season, but only during those years when I was not an actual Girl Scout. The years I donned the brown vest, cookie season was filled with anxiety and overeating. (OK, OK, every cookie season includes overeating.) Even the delicious taste of Tagalongs couldn't make me want to tag along on those cookie-selling missions. No matter how much I yelled out from behind the foldout tables to the parents picking up their kids from school, I felt as if the efforts were futile. We were rewarded (dare I say judged -- in one particular troop at least) based on how many boxes we sold. My fellow Brownies had parents who would sell their cookies to co-workers. My dad, a teacher, thought it inappropriate to attempt to sell my cookies to his students -- no matter how many times I pleaded. And my mom, a psychologist, was of a similar opinion that ending her one-on-one sessions with clients in her private practice ought not include an offering of a tissue and the Girl Scout Cookie order sheet. The nerve!
Back in the day, cookie season just meant lost Saturdays and sore throats from yelling at strangers. Maybe if I'd been more creative about where I set up my cookie business, the early entrepreneurship experience would have been more enjoyable. Outside a hospital (or a line of cars waiting for COVID-19 tests) might not have been the wisest, but perhaps outside an OB-GYN's office? Even as a kid, I understood that my pregnant neighbors were likely to be my best customers.
This year, unlike the past few, I understand more than ever the attempt to sell cookies online. It's social distancing-friendly. And for as much as I'm a tad weirded out by the avatars of my friends' kids, at least I get to see them in some capacity. Next year, however, I hope to have them knock on my door with a wagon full of boxes like the good ol' days. (Just call me Grandpa Bill.)
Until then, I'll just enjoy my box of S'mores and look forward to the day we sit around the campfire together.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Follow Katiedid Langrock on Instagram, at http://www.instagram.com/writeinthewild. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.