Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Girl Scout Cookie Quid Pro Quo

Based on some of the reaction I received to my last entry, I feel the need to defend myself because I am being accused of something despicable.

I am being accused of being anti-Girl Scout cookie. Nothing could be further from the truth. I look forward every year to buying tons and tons of Girl Scout cookies. Bring ‘em on. And while you’re at it, suffer to come unto me all the Little Leaguers selling candy bars, the ladies auxiliaries brandishing raffle tickets, the Friends of the Frail shaking slotted cans.

I’m eager to do business with all of them. But my unconditional support is conditional. I will not buy Girl Scout cookies, raffle tickets etc. from strangers. If some unknown Joe rattles his donation canister at me while I’m waiting for a red light to change, I shake my head and roll up my car window.

And believe me, it’s hard to say no to all the swarms of soliciting strangers. You can’t walk through downtown Chicago without some earnest human who’s clutching a clipboard approaching you and saying something like, “Excuse me, do you have a minute for starving children?” That’s how they do. They ask you if you have a minute for something where if you keep walking and say you don’t have a minute for it you feel like a supersized self-absorbed jerk. “Excuse me, do you have a minute to help prevent the earth from becoming smoldering cinder?” They really squeeze you hard in the guilt vise.

But I hold strong to my vow to never make a contribution to anyone unless I know their full name and all of their current contact information. Otherwise it defeats the whole purpose of my charitable giving because there is no quid pro quo. If I let you hit me up without knowing who you are or where to find you, then how am I going to in turn hit you up soon after for money for one of my many cripple causes? That’s the beauty of supporting the worthy cause of someone you know. When you solicit them later for your cause, they can’t really tell you no without feeling like a supersized self-absorbed jerk. It’s like when you save another person’s life. It’s a very satisfying feeling because you know you now have capital. At any point from that day forward, you can say to that person, “Hey can you buy me a beer? I mean, I did save your life and all.” What are they going to say?

So I’m always happy to buy Girl Scout cookies from anyone I know well enough. It’s IOUs in the bank. I’ll contribute money to just about anyone who asks, as long as I know how to track them down.