Yes, Virginia. . .There Is A Cookie Hell

“God never slams a door in your face without opening a box of Girl Scout cookies.”

-Elizabeth Gilbert

I did this to myself. This is all my fault.

How hard could this be?

Yes, I volunteered to be in charge of our Brownie troop’s first year of Girl Scout cookie sales. Volunteered.

I should have had an idea of what I was in for when I would proudly state that I was this year’s “Cookie Mom” to other Girl Scout volunteers, and was met with:

“Oh yeah? Good for you. Good luck with that . . .”


Wow! You’re braver than me.”

And I have a very distinct learning curve that involves mistakes that I don’t tend to learn until I do them. It’s the only way I work.

This should be fun.

The Cookie Rally

My first mistake came from the first meeting of leaders who would be heading the sales for their troop (this was me). There was a sheet being passed around the room that simply asked for people willing “to help out” with various cookie related activities. So I signed up to help with the Service Unit Cookie Rally.

Well . . .yeah! I believe that when you work something, you get on the inside track. Vital in first year cookie sales. We needed an “in” and I needed to make sure I knew the nuts and bolts of everything from the inside.

But, oops. “Signing up to help,” is actually Girl Scout Speak for, “being in charge.”

I began receiving emails asking me about budget, and rotations, and themes, and locations, and . . .and . . .and . . .

And I was having a mini-meltdown.

For the first time ever I actually backed out. I used the words, “I am so sorry, but I have too much on my plate right now. I am willing to help out, which is what I thought I signed up for, but I can’t head this thing.”

I received a friendly reply saying, “That’s okay we understand,” Girl Scout Speak for,”We are now going to call you a quitter, you quitty quit quitter.”

And I’m learning a new language.

So much for being in the loop. Now I’m that quitter.

Strike One.

The Booth Lottery

“How long is this thing supposed to take?”

“Well, Ray, I think it works like a Fantasy Football draft.”

“So, a few hours . . .”

“Yeah, but without the beer.”

“Too bad.”

Yes, exactly.

There are strategies to this thing. I tried to get the scoop from other leaders, tried to find out what the good locations were. Maybe get an idea of what to shoot for. But no one seemed very forthcoming with any of their strategies or suggestions for success.

Unless it was to intimidate me.

“Well, you know one year one of us took a wagon up and down the street with cookies in it, and sold to those people outside of the market across the street. So we did a double duty, got more sales that way. Here, I have a picture . . .there! See?

“Um, are those LED lights? Is she dressed like a Samoa?”

“Oh, that? She threw that together herself. She sent herself to a Space Camp for five weeks that year with the number of cookies she sold. She’s very motivated.”

She’s 11.

So, ok, we weren’t planning on breaking any records as a first time troop. Our goal was just sell enough to hold our heads up. I still wanted to make a decent showing, and I certainly didn’t want to look like an idiot picking the wrong location.

The order for picking was random for the first round, and then at the end the order would be repeated in reverse. Nine times. With about 40 troops.

We were going to be in that tiny room forever.

As the slots began to fill, the room buzzed louder with whispers and scratchings of pencils on paper. I had my own list of the locations and slots I was shooting for (I based it on busy times I found on Google, and locations that weren’t too “shady”). But I thought it was a long shot, at best, that we would get any of them.

I was wrong, and that worried me. My spots sat open until I needed them, like giant gaping holes of ignorance just mocking me.

Hmmm . . .what did it mean? Why didn’t anyone else want these? Please, don’t let the parents hate me for picking dead spots. . .

“Well, ” one leader said on the way out, “you just never know.”

SIGH. But I’m the one that they are counting on to know. Three hours later, I was on my way home with a headache.

I needed a drink.

Possible Strike Two.

The Cookie Meeting

Of course, most of my Brownie parents are as new at this as I am. So we needed a pow-wow. A crash course of “Cookies 101.”

By now, I wasn’t the best cheerleader, I have to admit. I had been overrun by this tidal wave of information, and with only me at the helm of what I could only hope wasn’t a sinking ship, I had to bear down now with somewhat forcible gaiety.

I was beginning to grow tired of cookies.

I had a bunch of parents who had attended the cookie rallies, so they already had a handle on the basics. They were a little more horrified after hearing stories about girls and parents going to great lengths to break the rules:

“People actually do that? For so little money?”

Boy, was I lucky.

So, heading into the general parent cookie meeting, I was feeling pretty good. These people had my back, right?

Sure. All 8 of them. Out of 25. That’s all who showed up to see me in my cookie sparkle shirt. I was heartened by the fact that at least one of them was a dad, and another one was the nanny. So they were trying.

These 8 out of 25.

Meanwhile, in another classroom, I had arranged the girls’ regular Brownie meeting to cut into the basics for them. It was stressful coming up with my own mini-rotation rally, something I couldn’t man myself because I was educating the parents. I had to leave my plan in the hands of a couple other leaders in our group. But, I was feeling confident. It was a pretty simple plan.

At the end of the parent meeting, I bounced back into the classroom.

“So, how did it go?”

The haggard look on my leaders’ faces told me.

“It went . . .fine.”

Oh, dear.

Strike Three. But I’m not out. Not by a long shot.

Sunday, we are off to the races! Cookies will finally be on sale, and out of my hands. All of the pieces are in place . . .

Let us pray.





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