The Odds are Stacked Against You

M is a Daisy Scout.  She loves being with the other girls, making crafts, and especially loves getting new badges.  Next year, they’ll start selling cookies, and add many of their new badges that way.

The whole cookie thing makes me nervous.  The Girl Scout resources I have say that the purpose of the cookies is to teach the girls to run a business, and that they are supposed to sell the cookies, collect money, and distribute the product themselves.  But as we all know, many of the parents don’t play by those rules.  There are always people dragging those cookie sales sheets into their offices, and their coworkers buy them, without the child having to lift a finger.  Those kids are typically going to sell more cookies and win the better prizes, despite the fact that they didn’t actually sell them, and some of the other children may work harder.

I absolutely refuse to buy anything from parents who show up with their kids’ fundraisers.  I will buy them if the child shows up herself (with the parent is fine) and asks me directly.  I bought cookies from my students, and I’ll buy them if the child comes to my door.  I don’t care if the parent is in the proximity, but the child has to ask me directly.  The whole point of these exercises, aside from money, is to teach the child how to approach strangers and make connections.  What does the child learn if the parent does all the work for them?

I’ve told M that I will happily accompany her around to sell cookies.  She can make phone calls to people we know and type  her own post on my Facebook if she likes, but that’s it.  She has to figure out how to do this, and she’s so interested in this sort of thing that I think she’ll be fine.  But I know she’ll be disappointed if she doesn’t win the prizes because her parents refused to pump up her sales.

However, there will be a valuable lesson in that, too.  The real world operates just like that.  There’s always someone with more money, a better education, less debt, a bigger house, more help, an easier job, or just better luck.  There’s also always someone with less.  Someone is always willing to cheat or to undermine you, or they have a group of people willing to do favors that you don’t have.  You have to do the best you can with where you start and the resources available.  It will never be equal, and oftentimes the winner isn’t the one that played fair.  It’s a lesson I learned too many times at my own jobs.

Too bad they don’t have a badge for that.


4 responses to “The Odds are Stacked Against You

  1. Make sure she calls me to see if I want to buy some cookies. I’ve been waiting for her to get old enough, so I can stop buying them from the Girl Scouts selling outside Wal-Mart.

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