“To do my duty”

Posted by on September 24, 2011 at 4:28 pm.

As I walked out of the grocery store, I was approached by a young man in a Boy Scout Uniform. He had a Tenderfoot rank patch and was probably in his first year of scouting.

“Would you be interested in supporting the Boy Scouts?” he asked.

I said I would and let him make his pitch to sell me popcorn. It’s been years since I’ve sold any myself, but I remember giving the same pitch to all my neighbors and family friends each fall while I was growing up. And I can remember my mother telling us how important it was to practice our whole pitch on people we were selling to. Something about good life skills learned from approaching people and talking to them. I just wanted the cool prizes.

My mother had this habit whenever neighborhood kids or family friends would sell her anything that she would make them give her the entire pitch. She already knew what she wanted, but she loved to help teach the children how to interact with adults. While speaking to this young scout, I found myself doing the same. I knew what I wanted — and had taken out an exact amount of cash from the ATM to pay him with — but I made sure to ask all the right questions to hear every part of his sale.

“What kind of popcorn are you selling?” “How much does it cost?” “What is the money you’re raising going to be used for?” He answered each in turn and then gave me my popcorn (the caramel corn with nuts, my favorite).

After our transaction, I started to act like my father, who never does anything the easy way. I offered him my left hand, which is a Boy Scout handshake, and told him “Keep up the good work, Tenderfoot.” I started to walk away, but saw his eyes open wide in recognition. Behind me, I heard him say to his older sister who was supervising him, “He knew what a Tenderfoot was!” And then his sister replied, “He was wearing Boy Scout shorts.”

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