Wanna Buy a Rolex?

The posters are hanging up outside offices. No, they are not campaign posters, but advertisements pitching the sales of fundraising junk for employees’ children. It all started back in 1917, when girls looking to finance their scout troop activities actually baked cookies and sold them in their school cafeteria. By 1922, the Girl Scouts began to standardize their recipe. And, by the mid-thirties the national organization licensed the production of their cookies to commercial bakers. Over the decades that followed, the variety has expanded and packaging has progressed to advertise the benefits of scouting. Today, Girl Scout cookies are an entrenched part of Americana. How can you resist overpaying for that nostalgic feeling you get when you open that tube of thin mints and sit down with a glass of milk?

It did not take long before it was more than the Girls Scouts looking for the dough in your pockets. Sports teams, extracurricular school groups, and through failed mill levies, even the public schools themselves were enlisting children as pitchpersons to bring in financing.

The problem was that the Girls Scouts had the corner on the whole cookie thing. So, all the other organizations were left to find some other product to peddle. Enter the world of big business. Opportunistic corporations saw this trend as a means to enlist millions of young salespersons who could wring money out of their family’s and neighbor’s pockets… all for “a good cause.”
People across America are buying stuff they do not really want out of obligation because someone sometime bought some junk from their kid. In a kind of quid-pro-quo process the producers of the junk are sitting back loving the whole process. Of course, they give the pathetic percentage of the take to the “worthy cause”….because they are “committed to the community.”

How many magazine subscriptions, wrapping paper, candy bars or popcorn have you bought out of sympathy, obligation or guilt?

It used to be that the children involved in the organization would actually go door to door and work the tables outside grocery stores selling their product. The work was part of the goodness of the whole process. The aim was to instill a good work ethic in the young people. Competitions were put in place to see who was the most industrious. That worked until one enterprising young individual breached new marketing territory by enlisting their parent to peddle the goods at the office.

Lets face it, this may work well for the kid to achieve the most points and win the mp3 player, but it really has no place in the workplace. It does nothing for the child other than encourage them to stay home playing video games while mom or dad does their work for them. More importantly, it puts workers in an uncomfortable position when they see their boss conducting an on-the-side sales business out of their office. How can an individual not feel obligated to shell out some of their hard earned moolah when they see other peers signing up to order crap from their boss’s kid.

The sea of cubicles is transformed into a kind of third world bazaar or California flee market in which each cubical tenant is pitching their wares. “Get your magazine subscriptions here!”, “Special…Today only! Get your three rolls of wrapping paper for the price of four.”, “Popcorn! Get your Popcorn here!”, “Hey, could I interest you in a new sports drink?”, “Partial ownership makes sense.”, “Have you been injured in an auto accident?”….

No! I am just on my way to a meeting!

Aren’t we supposed to be getting work done?