Face Your Fears: Strangers Selling Chocolate

Confronting kids, adults and weirdos peddling candy can be an uncomfortable experience.

Photo courtesy of World’s Finest Chocolate

We’ve all encountered them. They fester in high-traffic areas, or worse, come to your front door. People selling candy make me nervous.

I turn them down every single time. And I feel guilty every single time. Their desperation saturates my soul. Because I have known that same desperation.

I attended private school my entire life. With the exception of two years of community college, kindergarten through high school was private. The schools required everybody to sell candy. After community college, my undergraduate and graduate degrees were from a private school. Thankfully, that college didn’t make us sell candy. That would be kind of weird, forcing adults to prostitute candy.

World’s Finest Chocolate was anything but when I was young. You see, from kinder through eighth grade I, along with the rest of the school, was required to beg people to buy that crappy chocolate. This candy had nothing on Snickers, the undisputed king of treats. World’s Finest couldn’t touch Reese’s, Butterfinger, PayDay or 3 Musketeers. It was just as good as some other candy bars. However, World’s Finest was still better than the terrible Almond Joy, with its obscure coconut filling and half-assed marketing.

The biggest problem with selling World’s Finest was that the school asked way too much from its students. We had to sell a minimum of two boxes (72 candies total) per child; remember, many of us had siblings or cousins at the same school; there went the idea of aunts or uncles helping us out. As incentive, if we sold four boxes, we could get a day off from school and go to Disneyland!

Too bad selling those two boxes were like an impossibility. Imagine an entire school — not an entire class — trying to hit up a small city to buy second-rate candy. Mom and dad ended up having to buy those candies.

When I was in fifth grade, a buddy and I went to a Blockbuster Video to sell chocolates. For those too young to remember, video stores were like Netflix or Redbox except at one centralized location. You actually had to go somewhere to choose videos (and later, DVDs), pay money to an actual person, then, about three days later, bring the rented movie or movies back. Anyway, video stores were high-traffic areas and the one we camped out at was technically two cities away from our school. Maybe we would have luck.

It was a Saturday morning, cloudy and cool. Not too many people were in a chocolate-buying mood. The two of us talked about school, sports and girls. And occasionally, we would make comments before and after we solicited the candy. A husky gentleman approached so we assumed he might be a buyer.

“Oh, look at this guy, look at this guy, he’ll buy a candy for sure,” my buddy said.

Before we said anything, the husky fella approached us, index finger in both of our faces.

“I don’t want to buy any fucking candy bars from you fucking assholes,” he yelled.

Huh? There was no way he could have heard us. Unless he had dog hearing. Had either of us had a dog whistle we would have blasted him with the human-silent noise.

My sophomore year of high school we were required to sell a Reese’s peanut butter cups. This was manageable because a) the candy was top tier; b) it was only one box; c) an entire school wasn’t selling at the same time; and d) all of the students came from vastly different locales — I didn’t know one person in high school who lived in my city.

In fact, my uncle who owned a barber shop, sold all my candies for me. Total time? Less than a week.

There was no incentive to sell the high school candy. Strangely, I remember the money was going to help the baseball team. Nobody cared about the baseball team, but apparently, they were pretty good. So good that they traveled across the country to play where a coach or coaches may or may not have paid for beer and hookers. I never got the full story on that one.

I don’t know what stories today’s candy peddlers have and I don’t care. Still, every time I pass by a bank, Best Buy or grocery store, my stomach sours a bit. A great feeling of angst fills my body.

Imagine if one day the seller just snaps. They could confront me, especially if they’re camped at a bank. Here’s how it would go down:

“No thank you? But you have money, you just left the bank.”

“I made a deposit.”

“Oh, so that means you have a card? My iPad accepts cards.”

“I said no thank you.”

“Your mother.”

“You don’t know my mom.”

This exchange could go on forever. Meanwhile, potential buyers stroll in and out of the bank while this greedy bastard tries to milk me for a buck.

What if they followed me to my car? Or accosted me? Or simply continued to verbally berate me?

It could happen. I will attempt to clear my mind and not dwell on candy sellers. Their presence could force me into preemptive strikes like the husky guy when I was in fifth grade. If he continued with his husky ways he might even be dead now. Oh well, fuck him, he’s the asshole for talking to kids that way.

Now, if I can only avoid the Salvation Army buckets during Christmas time and religious nuts who go to your door to urge you to read their literature.

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