September 22, 2009

Pick & Choose

September and October mark the beginning of the door to door selling season for area children.  On Saturdays and Sundays they trudge through the streets like reluctant zombies, half-heartedly hocking the products and services foisted on them by organizations that they were forced to join either by their parents or as a result of peer pressure.

The kids, unless they are incredibly stupid, don't want to do it and we, the potential customers, wish they would stay away and do things that normal children do on a weekend like watching cartoons, playing pick-up football and torching abandoned buildings.

Even if you don't want to buy popcorn, candy bars, or cookies; or sponsor someone to run, walk, jump rope or hold their hands over a lit match, it's extremely critical that you do open your wallet to some of the children.

And that reason is politics ... pure and simple.

Because to be a good neighbor is to play politics. Neighbors are primarily neighborly because they are either returning favors or hoping to negotiate future favors.  We're not unlike the Mafia in this respect. Someone bought your kid's candy bars?  Buy their kid's Christmas wreath.  Want your next door neighbor to pick up your mail for a couple of days while you're out of town?  Then buy little Jimmy's popcorn.

But you have to do your homework if you're going to pick the right kid to leverage yourself into an advantageous position.  If you're like me, you couldn't pick your neighbor's kid out of a police line up.  So, about a month before the little beggars actually begin their rounds, I try to familiarize myself with what my neighbor's kids actually look like.  And you have to do this every year because the little monsters have a habit of changing their looks over time.

Take the kid next door to us.  He's blonde and short of stature with a Luke Skywalker haircut ... and he looks just like about 5 other boys I've seen in the area.  In fact, last year I bought 10 dollars worth of raffle tickets from a someone I thought was him, but turned out to be one of the other little bastards.  I was pissed off when the real deal showed up and I had to buy tickets from him too.

There is one product that I absolutely refuse to buy, no matter who brings it to my door.  Boy Scout popcorn. This is the most vile substance ever created by the collaboration of man and nature.  The son of Jesus Christ could not sell me this shit.  Several years ago,  a young Scout showed up on the doorstep and I asked him if he had actually eaten the popcorn.  After staring at me vacantly for a few seconds, he replied that no, he hadn't. I told him to go home and try some, and after eating a few mouthfuls, he would immediately quit scouting rather than continue to sell the crap with a clear conscience.

As time passes, your children grow up and leave home.   You don't mind if the mail piles up for a few days because it's mostly bills anyway.  So you don't really need any favors and  you tend to avoid answering the doorbell because you know who it is and what they want.  And you don't care because kids will usually just ring the bell once and then go away.

Except at Halloween, when the kids are out for themselves, not for some faceless organization which they will eventually forget until later in life ... when they start a blog and need some fodder for a post ... like me ... sometimes.

1 comment:

  1. You know, I just bought my first house, and I'd been wondering about the politics of buying from the neighbors' kids. The very first little salesman to show up at my door was selling those entertainment coupon book things for twenty bucks a pop - no thanks! Come back when you're selling candy bars.