By Robert Simpson
It started as a routine trip to Ed Young’s Hardware Store to buy a jigsaw. Guys like me, who push pencils during the week, and pretend to be contractors on weekends, like to strut into the store like Mr. Fix-it.
And there they were – just past the gas grills that my wife won’t let me buy. The girls sang out in perfect harmony, “Mister – would you like to buy a box of Girl Scout cookies?”
They were Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes and Seniors. They stood side by side in order of height from right to left. They were innocent and hopeful, trusting that adults would stop and help their cause. And how could you not? I stopped dead in my tracks and soaked in their smiles and looks of anticipation. I really didn’t need to answer out loud for the moms. They knew they had hooked a dad with a daughter, albeit fully grown. Once a dad, always a dad.
“I’d be happy to buy some cookies! But there are six of you – who should I buy my cookies from?”
Six hands shot up. Each girl was as cute as the next. Their moms watched as I fell into this beautifully laid trap. It was marketing at its best. No decent man can turn down a request to buy Thin Mints or Shortbread cookies from a Girl Scout in a hardware store.
One by one, I took a box of cookies from the stack in front of each girl. They couldn’t believe it. This old guy with gray hair must be a millionaire. Nobody buys this many boxes of cookies. They giggled, smiled and laughed. Their moms smiled, too.
A small crowd gathered as our transaction came to a close. I reached for my wallet and peeked inside. The girls were wondering if I had enough money to pay for the cookies.
“How much money do I owe you?”
The Senior Scout knew but I shushed her.
“Who is the youngest scout here?”
A Daisy kindergartner with a brunette bob cut raised her hand, proudly but timidly.
“How much do I owe you, Miss?”
She squirmed and smiled. After 10 agonizing seconds that seemed a lot longer, she asked me if I owed her $30. Never before was such applause heard in Ed Young’s Hardware Store on a Saturday afternoon.
I reached into my wallet and handed the Senior Scout two $20 bills. She thanked me and then asked, “Would you like any change?” I am seldom left speechless by a 14-year-old, but speechless I was. The moms roared with laughter. This Senior Scout watches online MBA courses from the Wharton School of Business.
“Ladies, I do need a few dollars in change to buy a jigsaw please.”
The girls boxed up my cookies and promised to keep them safe as I did my shopping. I could still hear them laughing as I picked out my jigsaw and headed for the electrical department.
My wife greeted me in our kitchen as I unloaded my boxes of Thin Mints and Shortbread cookies. “I thought you went to the hardware store?”
My wife smiled.
I poured a glass of milk and broke open the Thin Mints. Next Saturday I might just cut a hole in a wall.
Robert Simpson, of Williamsville, is susceptible to persuasion by young cookie purveyors.