Saturday, March 10, 2007

Just In Case

Spent 4 hours boothing Girl Scout cookies today. Two hours into the "wonderful" experience, a lady and her daughter approached one of our tables. For some strange reason, alarm bells went off in my head and a story that had been told to me two years ago at a service meeting, immediately came to mind.

The story went something like this...Two women, a mom and her adult daughter were buying cookies from the girl scouts in a neighboring county. They would go to different stores where the Girl Scouts were boothing, and they would buy lots of boxes of cookies and then write a check. Everything sounds great here...except, the checks that these women wrote, always bounced. At the time I asked my service unit manager what I should do if these women approached my girls during boothing. She told me that I should just accept the check, and that the council would deal with it. Now I will tell you that when I heard this story (it is not an urban legend!) these women were described in greater detail than I wish to share. Let's just say that the thought of people ripping off anyone, much less a non-profit organization really burned me up, and so I stored this story somewhere in my brain.

Fast forward to today. I am sitting at a table with two of my girl scouts (and two girl scout dads), when two women approach the table. (Now please keep in mind that in all the times that I have "boothed" with my girl scouts, hundreds of people have approached the table and I never before had the following reaction.) I looked at these women and warning bells went off in my head. (if you've been reading my posts, you know that I am overstressed and tired... so the fact that my brain was registering anything was pretty amazing).

I don't know what made me do it but I turned to one of the dad's that was standing next to me and I whispered...."They're going to want to buy lots of boxes of cookies and they will write a bad check." He looked at me like I was nuts. I continued to watch these two women tell my girl scouts that they wanted this box and that box until there were 20 boxes that these women wanted to buy. Having been told by my service unit manager to go ahead and sell the boxes anyway, and realizing that I could be wrong about these women, I was fully prepared to accept their check...but these women kept asking which county we were located in. Then they started asking my girls to do a bunch of stuff (having to do with purchasing cookies) that I won't even go into. I became very uncomfortable and would not allow my girls to comply with these women's requests, because they were unreasonable requests. I absolutely intervened and explained to the women that what they were asking was unreasonable and that they could do what they were asking my girls to do, themselves. By this time I wanted them to either give me the check and take the cookies, or leave. (They were making a scene, and scaring my girl scouts.) The situation finally ended with the women telling me that they hoped I had a rotten day... and they left without purchasing any cookies.

I know that I have left out alot of information. I guess it's because I don't want to inadvertently say something that could get me in trouble...not that I did anything wrong. I had two adult witnesses who were there for the whole situation. They both told me that I handled the situation beautifully. I need to contact my service unit manager on Monday and let her know what happened. Tomorrow morning I will contact the leader of one of the troops who I know will be boothing at the store we were at today...just to give her a "heads up" as to what happened today.

A long time ago, I learned to honor and listen to my "intuition". Something did not feel right today from the moment these women approached our table. Is it possible that I lost a big sale for my troop for no good reason?...yes it's possible. Is it possible that I saved my Girl Scout council the hassle of having to go after these women for having written a bad check?...yes it's possible. Do I feel that I handled the situation inappropriately?...absolutely not! Am I glad that I am done with boothing? bet I am! Did I write down their license plate number...just in case? bet I did.


only oldest said...

I have always had faith in you and along with Uncle B, you have been the most outgoing. If you doubted, you had a darn good reason kiddo. I have a very strong feeling you did good for the scouts.

Patti said...

There is nothing like female intuition, Lynn. I always "go with my gut" and it doesn't let me down.
Three cheers on taking the marker number!

I can't imagine what they were asking the girls to do. They sound like real creeps.
You handled it really well.

Let us know what the service unit manager thinks of the whole mess.

Patti said...

cool - only oldest and I responded in the same minute.
I'm easily impressed. ;=)

Rhea said...

Intuition means a lot. I think you were spot-on. Great idea to get their license plate number!

patches said...

I believe in the gut feelings too. There are some things in life that you just know.

Don't second guess yourself If I had been in your position, I would have done the same thing. Profit earned on girl scout cookies is kind of small when compared to the their retail cost. But losing your initial investment really bites. When someone writes a bad check for less than a hundred dollars, it's not as high of a priority to prosecute. While it's menial compared to other crimes, the impact on the non-profits is much greater. Compromising opportunities to nurture strong young women, because petty crime isn't profitable to prosecute is plain wrong.

Joan said...

Intuition is a valuable thing and should be acknowledged whenever it appears. The Girl Scouts are lucky you have such a can you tell me which horse to bet on in the sixth? ;-)

Renee said...

even though you didn't mention everything that went on, know that it was enough to make me feel uneasy about the transaction too... Normal booth customers do not buy 20 boxes of cookies and ask the girls to do a bunch of stuff along with it. whatever the stuff was. You've been doing this long enough to know that a normal booth sale is not that big.

You were completely right to handle the sale the way you did and their reaction to you is proof that you were right. I too find it appaling that someone would try to rip off a non-profit organization. I'm betting that they were going to turn around and try to sell the cookies on ebay or somewhere similar.

Way to go, keep trusting yourself. And do make sure to report the incident so that hopefully everyone is red flagged to these folks.

Lynn said...

Only Oldest - Thanks

Patti - Will definitely let you know what the service manager says.

Rhea - Isn't intuition a wonderful thing...when we listen to it?

Patches - These are definitely bad women...I believe that they may have "purchased" 4 cartons (which is 48 boxes) from a troop that had boothed on Friday night.

Joan - If I knew, I would tell you.

Renee - What really makes me angry is that these women affected my girl scouts...Twelve was scared to go to sleep last night...she kept seeing these women's faces. I will keep you informed as to what, if anything the Girl Scout council does.

Renee said...

I hope that someone turns them over to the police.