Anna is participating in what most parents dread most - the twice-a-year school fundraiser. The last 3 years, she hasn't been interested in them, so we've tossed the packets and forgotten about it. But this year, she wanted to do it, drawn in by the promise of a limo ride if she sells 25 of the overpriced food items that are in the catalog. Of course, we've had the packet since the 14th, but tonight was the first night she was serious about it. The fundraiser ends on Friday. The neighborhood has been scoured by other kids from Anna's school and we're left to selling to close friends and relatives. I hate bringing this kind of stuff to work and subtly guilting people into buying things even though other people in my department do it shamelessly. I did send out a mass e-mail to some internet peeps and relatives to see if anyone was interested. This only made me mildly uncomfortable and if you were lucky enough to have received one, you're included in the group of people I don't mind making a fool of myself in front of. I meant what I said - only buy if you want. If you don't, it doesn't hurt my feelings one bit. I was just doing my duty as a parent.
When I was a kid, there was nothing I despised more than fundraising. It seemed like every organization I was in had fundraisers. Band, chorus, speech and drama, church groups, you name it, we were always hawking something to help pay for the bus to Timbuktu or something like that. I usually ended up selling to my parents and that was it. The funny thing is that the very first fundraiser that I remember doing was actually a rousing success. We sold Bic pens door to door for Cub Scouts - I was probably 10 or so. Back in my hometown, I lived in the 700 block of my street. My brother and I sold pens all the way up to the 2200 block in one afternoon - both sides of the street. I was a fearless salesman. I sold a shitload of pens. I also scared the crap out of my parents because I vividly remember being in about the 1300 block of my street on the way back home and there they were, driving up the street in our old Maverick looking for us, sure that we had been abducted or murdered or something equally horrific. Shit no! We were just selling pens.
After that, I really lost my drive for selling. I remember being heckled by some 20 something guys when I was selling popcorn for Scouts (I'm pretty sure) and was kind of freaked out about that. After that, my introvert REALLY set in and I just couldn't go and sell things to people cold. I wasn't going door-to-door ever again for that kind of stuff. And mostly, I never did.
Well, since there's no door-to-door for Anna after the locusts picked the neighborhood clean, we resorted to telephone tonight. We called grandparents, aunts, uncles and godparents, among others. I let her do the pitch (spectacular! spectacular!) but sat on the extension while she talked. She did a pretty good job for being eight. She was articulate and excited and clearly wanted to make a sale. There always came a point where I had to break in and explain that this is not the type of fundraising you're used to. This is 21st century fundraising as you can go to the website and do online orders. The school has a number as does Anna. You plug the info in, order whatever you want and she gets credit for it. Plus, the stuff gets shipped to your house. How's that for slick?
The best part of the night was when Anna was e-mailing Heidi's mom with the info that she needed and I was checking it over before she sent it. The subject line of the e-mail was "fun raiser." I said to her, "Anna, it's FUND raiser. You're raising funds for the school - funds are money." She looked at me like suddenly, the light bulb had gone to full brilliance. I thought, but wisely kept to myself, that doing a fundraiser is decidedly not a "fun raiser." At least not for me.