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So, here's the thing
Bill Bilodeau

Sell Me Something I Want


The Girl Scouts weren’t bad.

I could stand the cookie thing. I really could. Especially the Samoas.

I wasn’t so happy when they raised the price a buck a box, but as far as kiddie fundraisers went, it was okay with me. Besides, they had the franchise, right? This was their gig. You knew they’d be around the same time every year: door-to-door, at the supermarket; even at the office, thanks to mom or dad.

Then there were the magazine kids, showing up in the afternoon practically in tears, saying they were just THREE SUBSCRIPTIONS SHORT of a trip to Bali or wherever.
Then came the candy bars for Little League (or soccer, or PeeWee football or junior hockey or midget badminton). Those freakin’ kids were everywhere, and damn, were they organized. You couldn’t slip out the other door at the grocery store – they had it covered. And there were always enough of them at the table that you couldn’t wait until they were busy with another victim and quickly sneak by.

Then came the schoolkids.

This. Is where. I draw. The line.

Hey, don’t I already pay for schools? In fact, because I send my kids to private school, I pay twice. So what’s with the ripoff fund-raisers? What’s with the guilt trip? What’s with every freakin’ parent at my job bringing in their kids stinkin’ crap to sell, based on the assumption that if they’re gonna buy someone else’s kid’s crap, that someone’s gonna have to buy theirs, too?


I’m not paying ridiculous school taxes, then turning around and forking over $12 a pop for wrapping paper. No sir. I’m not paying $5,000 in tuition (each!), then sifting through a Neiman Marcus catalog with the label changed to figure out how cheaply I can get off this year while paying for class trips of kids I don’t even know in grades I don’t have to care about for seven more years!

It’s bad, and getting worse. My sister’s completely given up. Her approach? Tell me how many you have to sell, and I’ll just buy them. Save the kid the humiliation of going door-to-door. Save the husband the workplace alienation of bringing the box of candy and the handmade sign in and sticking it on his desk (you can’t put it in the break room; some asshole will decide it’s a gift).

No, just fork over the money and hope that next year, they at least make the kid sell something you can use 20 of, like subscriptions for Vicodin or official Derek Jeter baseball bats with Ruben Rivera's signature.

I’ll tell you what. The whole thing worse than smells. Using kids to sell cheap crap (or even worthwhile crap) just reeks of out-of-control adults looking to wring every last buck out of parents or anyone else sucker enough to feel guilty at saying no to a sad-faced 7-year-old.

I call it child prostitution. Our schools have become pimps, selling not the products in the kids’ hands, but the kids themselves. Because let’s face it, we don’t want the big chocolate bar (most of the time); we don’t want the magazines; the gift wrap; the mugs; the crotchless edible panties (sorry, wrong rant). We’re only buying this stuff because (all together now: IT’S FOR THE KIDS!

That’s right. It’s for the kids. They’re giving this stuff to little kids and pushing them out the door with the understanding that anyone who buys any of it is doing so ONLY out of guilt and ONLY because they’re kids.

So why not drop the pretense? Push the kids out the door with no merchandise, but dress them in halter tops and painted-on mini shorts, high-heeled boots and too much makeup. Give them an order form and a machine that accepts both debit and credit cards.

Or … how about this? How about you just make the taxes/tuition/fees/whatever equal to the cost of educating the kid, field trips included. Then I can answer my door again, safely knowing it’s probably only the Mormans.


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