Last Monday I was accosted in my driveway by a Cub Scout. Well, perhaps “accosted” isn’t the proper term as the kid didn’t kick me in the shin or pull my hair or trip me as I walked to my mailbox. Instead, he about killed me with cuteness.
I figured he was maybe seven years old and he was wearing his official Cub Scout uniform with the little neckerchief and everything. Peering up at me with big blue eyes behind his thick eyeglasses, he asked me if I would consider buying some popcorn to help support the Scouts. He even had a lisp. Aw man. It was the kid from Jerry Maguire reincarnated in a Cub Scout uniform. I was doomed!
His father was standing back on the sidewalk keeping an eye on our interaction and trying to let his son handle the negotiations. Probably he was ready to step in and give me more details to convince me to buy were I to initially refuse.
Like he needed to. I mean, I’m a sucker for this kind of thing. I have a whole box of breadsticks in our freezer from a coworker’s kid’s football team sales drive that will probably develop frostbite before we even think of eating them. I always add a dollar to my bill for whatever cause the local grocery store is promoting. And I have some tacky Christmas ornaments from another school fundraiser that will never be hung on our Christmas tree because they are so, well, tacky.
So I reluctantly held out my hand for the order form.
Do we need popcorn? Yeah, not so much.
We were gifted with a cool popcorn machine last Christmas and Vince spent big bucks on some gourmet kernels. And we enjoy an evening snack of popcorn from time to time. But gourmet popcorn is not something I see the need to spend big bucks on. I mean, it’s popcorn, for cryin’ out loud. It’s not the same thing as, say, spending big bucks on a nice bottle of Barolo.
So the next time I went to Sam’s Club, I stocked up on a ten pound container of popcorn kernels. And we haven’t even cracked that sucker open yet.
So, no, we don’t really need – or want – any popcorn.
Nevertheless, I perused the list. Cheese popcorn? Ick. Chocolate covered popcorn? Eh, maybe…but I’m not spending $25 on it. Ooh, there we go – caramel corn for ten bucks? Sold!
As I was mentally kicking myself for being such a pushover, I considered who in my life might like a tin of caramel popcorn. And then it hit me that my parents would soon be visiting and they might enjoy it. So I started to feel a little better about spending my hard-earned money.
Once the father realized the hook was in and I was buying, he came up to handle the financial portion of the transaction. I filled out the order form with my name and address and checked the little box for caramel corn. I asked him if they needed the money up front and he said yes. So I fished a $10 bill out of my pocket and handed it to him.
The father said they already had the products and would be back in the next day or two to deliver the tin. I told him they could leave it on our front porch if we weren’t home.
They thanked me and walked away to locate their next victim, er, customer and I walked to the mailbox to retrieve our mail, which was where I was headed in the first place.
I had mixed feelings about this little encounter. I mean, I felt bad because I sometimes feel like I have the word "sucker" stamped across my forehead. On the other hand, I also know my few dollars help organizations or school programs that don’t get a lot of funding and I know some of these families’ budgets are stretched a little tight. So in that sense, I felt good about helping out.
Eventually, I decided to just feel good about it. Hey, I helped out the Cub Scouts. Good for me.
Later that night I told Vince what had happened. He just looked at me and shook his head. "Did you get their name," he asked. "Do you know where they live? How do you know they didn’t just take your money and you’ll never see them again?"
Egad – I thought as I mentally slapped myself upside the head. That thought NEVER entered my mind! I might have been scammed by a Cub Scout. Or a kid who found a Cub Scout uniform at Goodwill and he and his scam artist father figured out a way to scam people. Notably, me.
On Tuesday I arrived home from work and immediately checked the front porch to see if the tin of caramel corn had been delivered. It had not.
On Wednesday I repeated the move even walking outside to check behind the boxwood to see if perhaps they’d carefully hidden the treasure. No such luck.
By Thursday, I was feeling a little dejected because I didn’t want to believe that the cute kid in the Cub Scout uniform could’ve been a scam-artist-in-training.
And by Saturday? Well, by Saturday, all my faith in humanity was lost. I moped around the house all day and even kicked the cat once or twice.
Okay, so not really. I mean, it was ten bucks, not our entire life savings. Lesson learned. And I would never kick a cat. Besides, I didn’t figure I could ignore the laundry and other Saturday chores just because I fell victim to a cute kid in a neckerchief.
On Sunday as Vince and I were busy handling one Sunday task or another, we heard the doorbell ring. And, lo and behold, it was the cute kid in the thick eyeglasses and neckerchief to deliver the caramel corn!
His father, standing a few paces back on the sidewalk, explained that they hadn’t been able to catch me earlier in the week and had wanted to deliver the tin personally. I thanked them profusely, closed the door and, turning around holding the tin aloft, I announced, “…And my faith in humanity is once again restored!”
Vince just rolled his eyes. But I think he was happy for me. I think he is glad I’m not completely cynical.
And then he promptly opened the tin of caramel corn and he and his son commenced to eat about half of it in one sitting. It wasn’t a very big tin.
So much for gifting it to my parents when they visit. But, hey. Wonder if they’d like a 10 pound container of popcorn kernels from Sam’s Club?