Sunday, September 12, 2004
Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others.
- Kids shouldn't be selling things. They're kids, not door-to-door salesmen. Remember that poor kid in New Jersey who was murdered by some sicko while he was selling school fundraising stuff door-to-door in the neighborhood? There's a nice little warning nowadays on the nice glossy brochures against doing exactly that (probably as a result of that particular incident), but the fact remains is that adults in loco parentis are telling kids that they have to help raise funds by selling, an unreasonable abuse of authority if you ask me.
- The kids are handed a prize brochure, which informs that if they sell various quantities of the stuff, they will win prizes. The prizes themselves are insufficient reward for the effort required to sell them, and it turns the entire affair into a mercenary exercise for the kids.
- In order to keep the kids' enthusiasm up or meet the kids' quota, parents and other relatives feel guilted into buying stuff that they neither need or want (sounds like certain multi-level marketing operations!) at inflated prices.
- If the quota or expected sales is higher than family consumption warrants, then there's a certain pressure to ask neighbors, friends and coworkers to purchase the stuff. It likely won't work with the neighbors, as their kids are coming home from school with the same sales packets. Friends are usually easy to guilt into it once or twice, but the third time people start asking what they're going to do with so much wrapping paper and candy. The friend paradigm often extends to the train kaffeeklatsch, where some parents will actually work the inbound commuter train peddling their kids' quota. At the office, the water cooler conversation will quickly reveal the Jersey folks' kids have similar fundraisers to the Long Island folks' kids, and it quickly becomes a zero-sum game. Or upon occasion, a supervisor will exert influence and force subordinates to purchase the school's wares to far exceed their kids' quotas (A certain manager in Happyland, the Large Asset Management Firm I've mentioned previously, was notorious for this; she's a rather formidable lady who's very hard to say no to)
Frankly, I don't want any of the crap in the catalog. I'm still using last year's wrapping paper, and if I want chocolate there's an excellent chocolatier in my town who's also quite reasonably priced. If I want to bake, I would much prefer to use real vanilla than the artificial stuff some schools peddle. I also don't want to pay an inflated price for something where altogether too much of that money is going to the fundraising company instead of the school itself. I unequivocally refuse to abuse my personal and professional relationships to peddle this junk.
Make my life easy. Send a note home, tell me how much you expect for a contribution from my family. Maybe, maybe, I'll write a check if I feel it's an appropriate contribution. But lose the candy sales....