posted Sun, 03 Jul 2005
I just finished a three-hour stint volunteering at the fundraising carnival for the diocese’s old-folks’ home and orphanage. I worked at the watermelon booth along with three very sweet, very polite teenage girls – Megan, Maria and Natalie – and two other adults. The girls did all the work. There was a surfeit of adult volunteers, apparently, so the adults were there to supervise (ie, stand around and do nothing). The volunteer coordinator asked us just to make sure the girls didn’t do anything dangerous or stupid. (There were big knives involved.)
When I arrived at the booth, they were out of forks – and people were not buying watermelon slices because of it. “Can we get some more forks?” I asked.
No one knew. No one had asked. No one had thought to ask.
“Maria,” I said, “Go to the other food booths and find one that sells something that uses forks. Ask them to give us some of theirs.”
I surveyed the surroundings. I suspected that our strategic location next to the porta-potties and away from the other food booths was probably affecting sales. Why hadn’t they put watermelons with corn dogs, funnel cakes, and hamburgers? What were we doing by face painting, the cake walk and the toilets?
I pointed to Megan, a stunningly beautiful Italian (yes, I know) girl with long brown hair, shorts and a white halter top, and said, “Megan. Cut up a few slices of watermelon into small pieces as samples and put them on a plate. Take them over by the other food booths and hand them out. Tell people there is a watermelon booth over here.”
She looked uncertain and asked, “But what if no one will take them?”
I answered, “You’re fifteen years old and you’re gorgeous! If you can’t get people to take free food from you now, then there is no hope!”
And yes, I had mixed emotions about using sex to sell, but really, all three of them were pretty girls. Having one of the adults do it would not have accomplished anything, I assure you. Yes, yes, yes, I am using the ends justify the means argument here and I know that’s an invalid argument, but darnit, I wanted to move those melons and make money for charity!
In the end, the volunteer coordinator, Betsy, who happens to be Natalie’s mother, killed the whole sample promotion anyhow, so the point is moot. She saw Megan with the samples, asked her what she was doing, relieved her of the plate, told her that giving out samples was not necessary, and sent her back over to the booth.
Of course it was necessary because we ended the day with ten unsold watermelons, thank you very much. If we had done it my way, we would have sold the darn things.
The end of the line
11 months ago