Wednesday, March 07, 2007

If Oedipus sold Girl Scout cookies

I noticed the boxes first. Dozens of them -- bright green and orange and pink – strewn across two lanes of traffic. I watched as the cookies were further pulverized with each passing car…. crunch – there go the Samoas….thwap – another box of Tagalongs….munch – those Thin Mints never looked thinner. Then I saw the pickup truck with the remaining cases of cookies pull over to the side of the road. A girl jumped out of the passenger side and ran to the edge of the street, hoping to save a few boxes. But the traffic was too dangerous and she could only stand there and watch the road kill. Even though I was in another lane, I slowed down, thinking maybe I could help somehow. But there was nothing I could do, really. It was too late. And sometimes (you knew I couldn’t resist) that’s the way the cookies crumble.

It was just one moment in my very busy day yesterday. A moment sandwiched in between errand number 11 and errands number 12, 13 and 14. But for some reason, the image of the smashed boxes, the speeding cars, and the frantic girl has stuck with me. It was like watching a pitiful mini Greek tragedy, only without the wailing chorus and eye gouging. I wonder who first noticed the cookies were spilling out the back, the mom or the girl? Which one had stacked the boxes too high and left the back of the truck shell wide open? And what will happen now? Is there such a thing as a comprehensive Girl Scout Cookie Insurance Policy or will they have to come up with the money for replacements by themselves? For some reason I feel disproportionately bad about it all. It wasn’t my fault. Heaven knows I would never wish ill on a Girl Scout (or on a Samoa cookie for that matter. Mmmmmm).

Andy Warhol, Red Disaster
But still I’m drawn to the wreck. Aren’t we all? We rubberneck. We read the obituaries. We ogle at the ultimate ten-car pile-up that is the life/death of Anna Nicole Smith. Why are we so intrigued by disasters and tragedies? A cynic might say that we enjoy the pain of others because we sense IT COULD HAVE BEEN US and we feel relieved that it wasn’t. I disagree. Call me naïve, but I don’t think we’ve evolved our way out of basic human compassion . We feel pity because we should feel it. Even if we can’t do anything about it, even if we just have to watch the cookies get smashed and feel really bad about it, we still have sympathy for the victims. At least I do. And I hope I never get too busy for that.


Kimberly said...

What a fascinating line of thought to pursue. On a light note though, I'm feeling a lot of sympathy for the people who -would have- bought those cookies, and now miss out on that particular note.

On a more serious note, I think most of us are a mix of reactions. Were I to witness "The Cookie Incident", I'd be 1) Horrified 2) Sympathetic 3) Glad it didn't happen to me 4) Happy that my day looked a lot better in comparison.

And yes, probably in that order.

Kimberly said...

Can you tell I've been listening to music all day? "...on that particular delicacy." That's what I meant. Yeah. I'm going to go hide somewhere now.

An Ordinary Mom said...

It's good to know empathy still can be found in the dictionary.

Now I want some Girl Scout Cookies ... it is probably a good thing I don't have any in the house right now because otherwise they would all be crumbling between my teeth.

scribbit said...

That poor girl. Must have been a rough day for her.

Funny that Girl Scout cookies are all over the net, Mayberry Mom was posting her empty boxes.

Your story reminds me of a trip to the cabin where my husband plowed into a family of ducks crossing the street at a blind curve. Wiped out most of the baby ducks and what he missed the cars behind took care of. You should have heard the wailing from the kids. Andrew felt so sheepish and horrible. I teased him and called him our Paquito Matador (baby duck killer) for a while.

Jane said...

Oh that poor girl! Girl Scout cookies aren't cheap either. So glad she knew her limits and didn't try to save them. My heart goes first to the girl and then to her mother, oh I hope the girl isn't a preteen! And, then I would get hungry!

allysha said...

Oh that poor girl scout! I would have been tempted to pick up a box and keep 'em. I think girl scouts and their cookies are exstinct in New York, sadly.

allysha said...

I mean extinct. you know.

Mary-LUE said...

t was like watching a pitiful mini Greek tragedy, only without the wailing chorus and eye gouging.

Okay, that line up above, had me laughing (and the Girl Scout Comprehensive Cookie Insurance)and now I'm struggling to feel the compassion--because you made me laugh so hard. (Maybe the laughter is slightly hysterical because I'm the mom of a Brownie Scout and this was our first year to sell cookies.)

Then you go and wrap it all up in a neat little observation of humanity. Very impressive.

(In real life, I'm sure I would have reacted similarly as you, hoping to be able to help.)

Lynn said...

As a Girl Scout leader for the past 7 years, I have had many dreams during cookie time about running over all the boxes of cookies, or dunking them all in a huge bowl of milk...but for it to really happen...yeow! At $4 per box, that has really gotta hurt. If you want a happy ending to this Greek tragedy, how about this one...the troop picks up the cost of some of the cookies, and the Girl Scout council picks up the rest of the cost. The girl spends the rest of her life be extra careful with everything that she does, and ends up finding a cure for ...cancer, Parkinson's, aids (you pick the disease)...The End

Em said...

Poor kid... but I have to admit your post made me reflect because I've always thought I was a "bad" person when I felt compelled to slow down and look when I saw an accident scene etc. but you're right ... I do always feel sympathy and I guess that's not such a "bad" thing to be feeling.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that poor girl scout! My first thought when I see something like that is, "ACK -- somebody's having an awful day" and to feel sympathy for them.

I love the name of your blog! :) Thanks for visiting my Thursday Thirteen.

Luisa Perkins said...

I'm not sure I believe in Schadenfreude, especially when it comes to GS Cookies.

You're a great writer!

Catherine said...

What a tragedy!! And, like the Anna Nicole story, I was completely drawn in to this... although I think it had more to do with your gift for storytelling more so than the intrigue of disaster. Beautifully written, Julie Q! And now I'm totally craving a thin mint.

Trina said...

Your entire post was lost on me, once the cookies were mentioned by one delicious name after another. I'm feeling quite sorry for MYSELF right

Chris said...

What a good post, you are right, empathy is good and what I would feel as well.
I couldn't help but chuckle just a tiny bit over the whole cookie thing and that is of course your fault. You just made it sound so funny and the visual that I got of the whole thing, well, it was just too much! Sorry.

txmommy said...

poor little girl scout!

Ann Kroeker said...

Random thoughts, most of them probably unrelated to the point of your post.

* What are the odds I would have been reading, thinking and Googling "gouging out eyes" more than once this evening? Someone commented over at my blog using that same phrase. I thought of Oedipus and Samson. I decided to go with Samson--don't know if you'd be impressed or not, but I found a link to the Rembrandt and posted it in my comment-response for my post about the accordian.

* Samoas...mmmm. I had two, um, three today.

* I can see her standing there by the road. I can feel the emotions. I can imagine half a dozen different reactions the mom might have.

* I wonder if you could go back at night when there's no traffic and salvage the remains? Maybe recycle them as ice cream toppings? Blend them into some vanilla for a homemade "Blizzard"?

The Lazy Organizer said...

I was wondering what happened to my cookie order.

Who is Anna Nicole again?

Annie said...

The horror!
I am an evil, evil person. I would much rather see prairie dogs flattened on the highway, than Girl Scout cookies.
Don't judge, as far as I know, no one has even contracted The Plague from Girl Scout Cookies.

MarillaAnne said...

Fantastic thoughts! I'm a new reader and a new subscriber ... all thanks to Mary-LUE