Thursday, February 21, 2013

The way the cookie crumbles

A simple Google search could have answered the question before it was even asked, as well as predicted the eventual tragic outcome.

Had my new neighbors used a simple search engine the answer to, “Would you like to be the Girl Scout Cookie Mom this year?” would have come screaming loud and clear across the Interwebs with a resounding “VERY BAD IDEA.”

But they didn’t. And I stunned the world by saying, “Sure, how hard could it be?”

As it turns out, pretty freaking hard. Or rather, not suited for a laid-back, disorganized, encroaching-hermit type of mother like me.

This painful reality became abundantly clear to both Troop 1297 and myself after the first 96 hours of online training courses I was required to complete. There were many poorly-produced videos on things like the history of the Savannah Smile and the use of sustainable palm oil, but not a word about whether a Merlot or Cab paired better with a Thin Mint. But I waded through (sober) and got my certificate of completion and a serious case of eyestrain nonetheless. 

Thinking I was thoroughly prepared for all things cookie, I was then surprised to find that I still had to attend the in-person training course which was held conveniently at 7:00 am on a Saturday morning. I don’t know if it was convenient, but it was certainly ironic since the woman running the seminar hadn’t slept the night before in preparation of our meeting, and I was still sleeping through it. She spoke in a quick clip for the next five hours about cookies, cookies and more cookies. I assume. I couldn’t really hear well over the caffeine buzz over the other mothers who had come equipped with Samoa-scented pens for taking notes and sales figures from the last seven years on their iPhones apps.

Since I was frantically writing my notes with a broken restaurant crayon on the back of my Publix receipt, I couldn’t help but feel as though perhaps I was ill-suited for this job.

Perhaps it was because I had never been a Girl Scout. I guess we couldn’t afford the fancy Brownie uniform so my mom enrolled us into the lesser-known, knock-off Campfire Girls. Instead of selling the famous cookie, our fundraiser came in the form of kindling and matches. It wasn’t nearly as successful, especially in the dry season. But that was back in the wild 70’s when our palm oil wasn’t sustainable.

So while I didn’t have experience to get me through the coming month serving as the troop Cookie Mom, I certainly had enough training. And emails.

Email. Lots of it. It was the one technological advance in the process since the advent of the quarter in 1796. Dozens of emails a day from several different levels of the organization all automatically-generated followed by at least three more from actual people explaining the previous email with a just enough passive-aggressiveness to hint at the drama below.

The amount of electronic notifications was in stark contrast from the actual website I was instructed to use to record, order and track our sales which was the most antiquated, confusing, and glitch-prone site I’d ever seen. I’ve been on the Internet since you had to plug in a land line into Tommy Lee Jones and Al Gore’s dorm room, but this one eluded me completely. It put the Wait? Why? What the? in www. I’ve had tic-tac-toe boards make more sense than those spreadsheets.

This use of Tripod sites and Hotmail addresses makes this process that much more difficult for a mother with the organizational skills of a crowd control usher for floor seating at a Beiber concert. In a middle school gym. Of an all-girls school. On the set of a Disney Channel sitcom. During a taping with Taylor Swift as the special guest star.

Frankly, I’m just not that intense about my baked goods.

But I am about my daughter. And a program that teaches, inspires and empowers young girls. 

So I will meet unrealistic deadlines, answer and send 4000 emails and tout the benefits of sustainable palm oil. I will glitter glue signs and set up card tables in front of grocery stores and humbly peddle cookies without counsel from a wine steward. And I will forget all about these many hours when I do it all over again next year.

Let’s just hope that no one on Council earns their Google savvy badge in the meantime.

©2013 Tracey Henry

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