My first and least favorite job was a position as a sales associate in a golf clothing store. I was a great employee; I was awarded employee of the month four times in the one year I worked there. But my one – well, biggest – flaw, the one thing I didn’t do, the one thing I wouldn’t do, was suggestive selling. Our socks were $5 a pair. There was no way I was going to casually persuade customers to buy a $5 pair of socks. I worked for every dollar I had, and I assumed everyone else did the same. Pressuring people into parting with those dollars was not something I was comfortable doing.
That’s when I decided I wanted to work for a nonprofit! And Red, White, and Boom was a reminder of that.
Children’s Hunger Alliance was a sponsor of Boom 2014. We had a make-your-own trail mix table- of course M&Ms went the fastest- activity books, and a cookbook cover coloring contest for kids. Our main attraction, though, was dinner. We had 500 meals to serve to kids for free, and if we didn’t serve them, we had to toss them, per USDA regulations.
To attract 500 kids to come to our tent between 4-6pm we had to do a lot of walking and talking, spreading the word and encouraging families and groups of adolescences to take advantage of our offer. As I walked up to parents, their smiles froze and their eyes showed an inner battle between wanting to be polite and really not wanting to be solicited to. They were so uncomfortable for 45 seconds; they thought I was selling something.
But as I finished my little speech about a free meal with a weak, “…just so you know!” and they realized there wasn’t a “all you have to do is…” they relaxed, and they began to see me as a human being instead of a robotic salesperson.
I walked away so happy every time I upturned their expectations. It’s a great feeling to be able to connect with and help people without having profit as an end goal.