The Ambush

It started off as such a perfect southern California day. The sun was shining. The temperature was in the low 70’s. Somewhere in the background a bird was chirping. I was in such a cheerful mood I decided to go to the grocery store to buy food for dinner (when you’re unemployed it’s the little things). I pulled into my parking space with the windows and sunroof open. ‘Zac and Sara’ was blasting on the radio. It was as if everything was right with the world. I grabbed my environmentally conscious reusable grocery bags and walked toward the entrance.

Then it happened. I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming. I knew to be prepared. I had practiced my whole life for this moment and in an instant I forgot all of my training. I was surrounded. There was nowhere for me to go. I began to feel the fear rise in chest when one of them looked at me and said “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?” What should I do? I mumbled something about ‘on my way out’ and they dispersed. I felt relief. I felt as if I was going to make it. As I was looking at the avocados it hit me. They will still be there when I leave. And I had practically promised that young girl with the giant brown eyes that I would purchase a box of deliciousness from her when I left. My palms started to sweat.  I could feel the room begin to spin. I sat down on a crate of oranges to think. I couldn’t leave out the back. Last time I did that the police and I had a very intense conversation. If I left out the front Big Eyes would be waiting with baited breath.  I walked through the store picking up things I didn’t really need or even want wasting time trying to figure out how I could escape her evil clutches. As I thought about the three foot criminal mastermind waiting for my cash outside the front door, I realized she only had 3 badges. The rest of the girls had dozens. Why did she have so few when the other girls in her troop had so many? I casually walked past the front door pretending to be very interested in the bouquets of flowers at the front. Big Eyes was by herself. The other Girl Scouts were huddled up talking. Even the moms at the table were ignoring her. She sat alone in a folding chair swinging her feet and looking down at the ground.

For those of you who have never seen a sad Girl Scout with only three badges it is a jarring sight. I felt my eyes well up. I forgot my pretense of looking at flowers and began just staring at her. Wondering what in her young life had led her to this point. Alone selling cookies on the street for cash. I began to imagine her home life. Her father had died when she was young and her mother worked two jobs to support her and her older brother who had a heroin addiction. She loved ponies and always did her homework. She said her favorite color was rainbow because she couldn’t bear to choose one.  As a single tear ran down my cheek she looked up and made eye contact with me. She gave me a sad, distant smile. I turned away quickly so she wouldn’t see me cry. I went to the ATM and withdrew $30. I checked out thinking the whole time of Cordelia (which is what I had decided to name Big Eyes) and how much getting her cookie badge would mean to her. As I walked out of the store I was once again surrounded, but this time I wasn’t afraid. I had a purpose. A mission. I walked up to Cordelia and asked for 7 boxes of Thin Mints. Her face broke out into the largest smile I had ever seen on a child. I could practically see the tears welling up. As she handed me those boxes of chocolate minty delight and said “Gee, thanks Ma’am!” I handed her the $30 and told her I didn’t need change. I walked away with a sense of pride. I had done something. I made a positive influence on a young girl’s life. I am someone she would always remember. As I stopped to let a car pass I heard the little angel’s voice speaking very loudly and excitedly to her fellow scouts, “Guys! It totally worked!”

I should be angry. I should have gone back and spoke to the moms standing behind the table allowing these little tricksters to pull the wool over unsuspecting members of society and asked for my money back. I should have written a nasty letter to my alderman asking for the banning of Girl Scout cookies statewide. Instead, in a state of shock I walked to my car and drove home. Windows up and radio off. As I sit here now surrounded by plastic wrappers and little green boxes I almost feel proud of little Cordelia. When life gives you lemons you sell Girl Scout cookies. I would like to hope that one day she will become an evil genius with aspirations of blowing up the world if they choose to not buy 1 billion dollars in Samoas. And when that day comes I will gladly put on my Evil Henchman Girl Scout uniform and march right alongside her.

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