Secret Weapon

The boy and Stephen are in their first year of Little League Baseball. They each have been given two cardboard boxes of chocolates to sell as a fundraiser. They have also been coached on all the fine points of selling the bars–the Pizza Hut coupon printed on the wrapper around the bar, the options of chocolate or chocolate and almond, the support of your local team, etc. And best of all, if they sell more than any other kid, they can win a BMX bike. The boy can’t imagine ever being able to buy a BMX on his own. Here’s his chance.

They have decided as a family that they will canvass the neighborhood separately to sell chocolates. Mom will take the boy, and Dad will take Stephen with Ruthanne as a tag-along. Ruthanne is closing in on four years old. She has extraordinary blonde hair–it’s nearly white, and Mexican ladies walk up to her and touch it all the time.

The boy approaches his first house. He is terribly shy. He recounts all the selling points to himself and shifts nervously as he rings the bell. Mom waits on the sidewalk. The door opens, and a sleepy Mexican guy stands in the doorway.

“What’s up, man?”

“Hi. Uh, I’m from Northeast Little League. We are selling candy bars to support our team.” He gulps and licks his lips.

“Ah, yeah? Let me see.”

The boy digs one out of his case and hands it to him. “We have chocolate and chocolate-almond. Also, there’s a Pizza Hut coupon on the inside of the wrapper. You get a dollar off a personal pizza and two dollars off a big pizza.”

“How much?”

The boy sees a woman moving around in the dark family room behind the man. “What’s going on?” she calls.

“Little League selling candy,” says the man.

“How much? I’ll get my wallet.”

“A dollar per bar,” says the boy.

“Man, I think I only got a buck on me. Is one okay?”

“I got another one also,” the woman says. “Get two.”

The boy hands over two bars and takes two dollars. He tucks the money in the manila envelope World’s Finest Chocolates has provided him.

He is thrilled as he moves back down the sidewalk. He shows his mom the money he has brought in, and they continue to the next house.

They do this for another ninety minutes, and at the end of that, he has sold twenty out of his thirty bars. Some people have turned him away, others weren’t home, but no one was rude, and he is proud of himself for selling his hardest.

When they arrive home, Stephen, Dad, and Ruthanne are already in the kitchen making snacks.

“How’d you do?” Dad says.

“Sold twenty out of thirty,” says the boy.

“Oh, that’s great. You really did great.”

Stephen turns. “I sold all mine.”

“What?” says the boy. “Really?”

“Yeah. It was awesome.”

“Well, great. Now I still gotta get rid of ten bars. More, if I want the bike.”

Stephen shrugs. “I think I’m done. I don’t think I can win the bike.”

Stephen heads out of the room to go change into pajamas. The boy wonders what he could have done better.

Dad says, “Listen, Son. Stephen did a great job. But he also had a secret weapon that you didn’t have.”

“Yeah?”

“On his first door, Ruthanne and I went up right behind him so he would be less nervous. The first guy wasn’t going to buy anything, and we were getting ready to go, and your sister suddenly takes her thumb out of her mouth, holds up her stuffed bunny, and exclaims, ‘This is my bunny, it is!’ And the guy goes, ‘Ah, hang on!’ He comes back with his wallet and buys five bars.”

“Really?”

“Yep. And so every house we went to, I sent Ruthanne up to the door with him, and she would tell every person, ‘This is my bunny, it is!’ And they all bought more than one bar. We were done in about ten house.”

“Wow!”

“So maybe for your last ten, we’ll send you out with Ruthanne.”

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