The Joy of Selling Cub Scout Popcorn

Jaiden in his Cub Scout uniform. This year, he is working towards earning the Bear badge.

October 24

Today, Jaiden and I made a feeble attempt at my most-dreaded of all Cub Scout activities – selling popcorn. This fundraiser comes along every October and, honestly, I just don’t want to do it.

First of all, he is too young to go by himself and it has been nearly impossible for me to find a chance to take him out because of his three younger sisters. I wouldn’t even attempt to take them door to door and I also haven’t attempted to leave them with Greg because it’s enough for him to have to watch them when I take Jaiden to a Pack meeting, which is an hour long but usually tends to go over.

This week, fireman Joe was still telling the boys to stop, drop and roll when I started receiving texts from Greg: “The baby is up get home.”

Five minutes later: “U out yet”

Five more minutes later: “U here yet.”

“The baby is getting cranky.”

This should be interesting when I start back at work one night per week starting next week. It has been three months, after all, which is the usual “maternity leave.”

But back to the subject at hand. The next reason why I don’t like selling popcorn is that it’s embarrassingly expensive. How much would you expect to pay for a bag of popcorn? Three dollars maybe? Well, Cub Scout popcorn is $10 and up. That’s right, the cheapest selections are $10 — for a bag of caramel corn or a container of popping corn. No, not popcorn in microwavable bags, just plain kernels that you … cook on the stove? Or however people used to make popcorn before microwaves were invented.

A box of microwavable bags of popcorn is $17. Chocolate crunch popcorn is $18. Yogurt covered pretzels are $22. You get the idea. Yes, some big percent of the cost goes to the Cub Scouts, but it’s still embarrassing to ask someone to pay that much for popcorn.

Caramel corn, $10/bag

Last year, one lady literally told us, “I’m not going to pay that much for popcorn! I have a mortgage to pay!” She seemed appalled that we even dared to ask her. Lady, it’s an seven-year-old boy trying to sell for his Cub Scouts! You could at least pretend to be nice!

Not to mention the fact that by the time we got to delivering the popcorn last year, the weather was terrible. Freezing and snowy. And the people were never home. Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit here, but you get the idea. Selling popcorn is definitely not my favorite activity.

So this year, I told myself that we’re just going to sell to family and no one else. I just have too many babies. With three girls three-and-under, it just isn’t realistic, I tried to tell to myself.

But… when his Den made a goal of each boy selling 20 lines on the sales sheet, I knew I had to make some sort of effort rather than looking like the dead-beat parent. Even if Jaiden does have three little sisters three-and-under.

So, since I knew that having Greg watch the girls while I took Jaiden out to sell popcorn would not easily fit into our schedule, I did the next best thing. I took the girls to my parents house on the night Greg was closing at work and attempted to sell in their neighborhood.

Butter toffee, $17/bag; Butter light microwavable popcorn, $17/box

My mom requested that we sell on the opposite side of Birch Lane, across the cross street. She didn’t want us trying to sell to anyone who might know her since she said she usually says no to anyone who comes to her door trying to sell something. This was fine with me, since it would avoid the embarrassment of trying to sell overly-priced popcorn to anyone who might know me as well — the awkwardness of them feeling obligated to buy some because they know you, or the even bigger awkwardness of them turning you down even though they know you. At least when the people don’t know you, the anonymity allows them to be pretty straightforward about their true feelings towards buying popcorn.

And people on the other side of Birch Lane were pretty clear about how they feel about people selling popcorn. Or, more accurately, how they feel about people ringing their doorbell at 5:30 p.m. in October. A majority of them didn’t even open their doors.

I’m sure I’ve done this before at some point, but I’ve now come to realize just how rude it is! Especially when I can see you in the distance through the decorated windows beside your front door, hiding in your kitchen. Or when your kids have already peered out at us from the living room and yelled, “Mom, someone’s at the door!” but you still don’t come to the door.

But it’s okay. Maybe it’s the economy, and people think it’s nicer to just not open the door than to say no. Then again, you don’t really know who we are or what we’re doing at your door, so more than likely, you just don’t want to be bothered. Well, thanks a lot.

Jaiden in his Cub Scout uniform, October 2011

One nice old man did open the door and said, “You caught me at the wrong time. Can you come back after November 1?”

I said, oh, that’s okay! Thanks anyway! The popcorn sheets are due on November 1. Poor old guy. At least there are some people out there who will try to be helpful even if they don’t have extra money to spare.

So after walking down the entire opposite side of Birch Lane, only three kind citizens had taken pity on us and bought some over-priced popcorn. Oh well, it’s better than nothing, right? Now, with family members’ purchases, Jaiden had filled six lines on his sheet.

November 1

In the end, Jaiden ended up selling $326 worth of popcorn and filled 22 lines on his popcorn sheet. Mostly because his father then took the sheet to work and somehow got a lot of people there to buy some. Apparently his father being a good salesman is something I may have missed when we were together. Actually, come to think of it, that may be how he got me to stay married to him for as long as he did…

Well, at least it benefited Jaiden in this situation. In the end, Jaiden ended up achieving the Den’s goal of each boy filling 20 lines on their sheet. All is well that ends well, I guess!

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