Monday, July 18, 2011

Shakedown Street

"Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart. You just gotta poke around." -The Grateful Dead

Enough. I'm talking to you, daycare. Enough.

We chose you because you're the best daycare in town. And your prices reflect that, and so does our daughter's enjoyment of her time there. But just stop it. Stop asking me for money.

It seems every time I walk in the door, there's a table set up and someone's trying to sell me something. Bake sales, raffles, book fairs. I know, these things raise money for the daycare or for charity. But I don't have a lot of discretionary income. And that's difficult to explain to a 4 year-old who knows there are cupcakes to buy when you pick her up.

I can live with the bake sale. They practically give this stuff away. I remember walking away with three cupcakes and four cookies for like $3.50 the last time. I gave them a five and told them to keep the change, big deal that I am. "Get a little something nice for yourselves, ladies," as I wink at them and shoot them the old finger gun. 

The raffle WAS for charity, after all. And they did have a bunch of differently themed gift baskets donated, so I wasn't really mad at that. I was mad that I didn't win. And I recently wrote about the book fair, where my daughter asked for three books and a twatty mom judged me for saying yes.

But what happened right before the school year ended was the final straw. A couple of kids and their moms had set up a jewelry sale. Homemade jewelry... by the kids. As soon as I walked in the door, they bombarded me. I tried to play the rushed, stressed, I-gotta-go parent and pretend not to have the time or inclination for such things.

I thought I had pulled it off thanks to my sly routine of going upstairs to get all of my daughter's stuff first, then going outside to get her from the playground, and then straight to the car.

But as we walked to the car, my daughter stopped dead in her tracks.

"Daddy, there's jewelry."

She remembered, or was told, and I couldn't pivot away from it. 

"Sweetie, we don't need jewelry."

"Yes I do." She was so certain.

So I made her promise that if I had bought her jewelry she had to be a good girl and listen and eat all of her dinner and not cry. Being that this was the first time I was seeing her all day, I had no basis for any reward. She could have punched a kid in the face that day for all I knew and here I was about to buy her jewelry.

My only option was to reward possible future activity. Basically, I was giving her this jewelry on credit.

The $10 necklace, marked down to $6
Once inside, she proceeded to choose what turned out to be the most expensive item they had to offer. It was retailing for a whopping $10. Ten bucks! I was unable to hide neither my surprise nor my displeasure at the price of this homemade necklace. I tried, but failed, to convince my daughter to buy something less expensive.

"This bracelet's nice and it's only $3."

She wasn't buying.

One of the moms then told her daughter, the capitalist behind this operation, "Maybe it's time we reduce the prices. It's getting close to closing time." I managed to haggle my way down to six bucks.

On the car ride home, I shook my head in disapproval to myself. I thought what nerve they had setting up a jewelry sale like that. And for what? Themselves? Obnoxious.

That night I voiced my aggravation to my wife. I told her I was going to write a blog about it and call it "Shakedown Street."

"Please don't," she pleaded. "Some of those moms might read it and then they (really) won't like you."

I relented. So why are you reading about it anyway? Because the next day my wife sent me a link to a story on a local website about how those kids were raising money for Relay for Life.

You know who's obnoxious? Me.


  1. And, it's stories like this that remind me why I'm here. You're human just like the rest of us.

  2. Those drive me crazy! When Boy was in daycare I was paying scads of money weekly, (51% of my income, to be exact) and they still sent home "fundraisers" to raise money for the daycare. So uh... where's my 51% going???

    Now with t-ball, scouts,and public school, it's the same thing all over again.

  3. Just wait until she starts a public school. You pay your taxes, here in Texas it is ⅔ of your total property taxes, them you still are asked to pay for supplies for the teacher, field trips, numerous fundraisers throughout the year. Drives me insane! My wife has started not discussing these nickel and dime tactics with me because she realizes that I will say no. It is absolutely insane that we pay high property taxes, and then teachers are begging for supplies, when administrators and superintendents aare making 6 figures. We wonder in this country why out education system is screwed uup...... Deep breath..... Rant over.
    Preach on Dad preach on!

  4. Obnoxious is manipulating children to want said items, expecting people to spend money without explanation and judging when they don't. I think you get a pass here.

  5. Maybe you had too much too fast,
    and just overplayed your part?

    You are human. It all worked out and I would place a wager that you'll soon have another opportunity to "donate".


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