It’s Girl Scout cookie time! That phrase used to mean something entirely different to me in years past. It meant budding entrepreneurs at my doorstep selling Shortbread cookies, Carmel Delights and, my personal favorite, Thin Mints. I remember how nervous my little neighbors would appear shifting their meager weight from foot to foot as they peered up at me anxiously, a sheepish mother hovering protectively in the driveway. I was always happy to oblige and would look forward to those beaming little faces when they returned with their high caloric deliveries.
This year my own daughter joined the Brownie Girl Scouts and tested her sales skills on friends and relatives. In an effort to be supportive of her new endeavor, I decided to volunteer my time to help out the troop. The position of Troop Leader was thankfully and capably filled. I have always been more comfortable in the role of hard-working peon; I prefer not to command anything. However, in a burst of altruism, I decided to volunteer to be “Cookie Mom.” How hard could it be after all? How many cookies can a bunch of second-graders sell?
I got my first glimpse of what I was in for reflected in the concerned gaze of a friend and fellow Brownie Mom. “That’s so-so nice of you,” she stammered. “Are you sure?” Of course I was sure. I was more than sure. I was confident in my organizational abilities. After all, in my former life, I was a department head with over a dozen reports and heaps of responsibility. Cookie sales? Piece of cake.
My second clue was less subtle. “Are you nuts?” queried my sister. “What were you thinking?” I was a little miffed at her obvious skepticism of my abilities—miffed, and maybe, just a little nervous.
As it turned out, the Cookie Mom experience has been an interesting ride. The cookie booth sale at Roche Brothers (shameless plug) was a great success. Our tiny salesgirls were polite and eager and we even collected a sizable number of cookies for our troops overseas. When orders were due, the girls all miraculously turned in their order forms on time, and I was proud of my troop’s work ethic. All told, we sold over 1500 boxes of cookies. How sweet!
Then came cookie delivery day. Have you ever seen 1,500 boxes of Girl Scout cookies in one place? How about in your living room?
Still, turning my living room into a cookie warehouse was nothing compared to the amazing display at the American Legion hall on cookie delivery day. I drove up to the hall at the appointed time with two stalwart Brownie Moms. Equipped with mini vans and willing hands, we confidently sauntered up to the front door only to stop and stare in amazement.
The Legion was filled with cookies. Tractor-trailer trucks had pulled up to the side entrance and were unloading even more cookies. You could probably smell the sugar up by the Town Common. Inside, it was a beehive of activity. Moms with dollies expertly maneuvered precarious stacks of cookies around corners and up and down makeshift ramps. Our town’s cookie coordinator, an amazing woman named Jean, stood in the middle directing all the activity. Part drill sergeant, part warehouse manager, she seemed to be somehow endowed with superhuman abilities. She knew who represented each troop and where their cookies belonged. I personally saw the woman directing truck drivers and Moms, while simultaneously handing out cookie order forms and adding up a stack of peanut butter patties with lightning speed and unerring accuracy. I challenge any high powered executive to multi-task the way this woman did. Within a few short hours, the place was cleared, not a Cinnaspin in sight to reveal the herculean efforts put forth there earlier in the day. All told Burlington Brownies and Girls Scouts sold over 22,500 boxes of cookies. Over 18,000 boxes were processed at the American Legion that day in approximately five hours.
Back at home, the cookies took over my house. I toiled for hours to sort them by family and when I was done, there were piles of cookies everywhere. My family stared in awe at the saccharine display. Each stack proudly bore the name of tiny marketer in the making.
The cookies are all gone now except a few boxes of Thin Mints I have hidden in the lower cabinet—compensation for my efforts. I have gained a new respect for Girl Scout cookie coordinators and their ilk. Munching on a Thin Mint from my secret stash, I am sure that next year, we will sell even more. And, I look forward to helping to drop them off—at someone else’s house!