Spring was winning the argument yesterday afternoon. Commuters returning from New York via PATH were greeted by Girl Scouts – actually Brownies, I was informed – selling Girl Scout cookies. It was the last chance to buy the cookies, the last out-reach project of the annual fundraiser.
The kids held up hand-made signs informing residents of the cookies, the price ($4.00). In case the signs were some how overlooked, the Brownies were writing with chalk on the concrete, drawing arrows and tracing letters to form blurbs that directed pedestrians to the canopy next to the mini-van, under which was a folding table. Dozens of boxes were being sold, although no one was sure of how many. There were cartons of the cookie boxes in the back of the vehicle. The parents and kids were determined to stay until all were sold. At times the customers crowding the table were two-to-three deep and the sun had not even set so unsold cookies seemed unlikely.
Parents were supervising but the kids were actually handling the money and doing the math. They were doing everything. Sales, marketing, transactions, book keeping. Scout leaders basically watched, and one assumes drove the mini-van.
The operation was high-energy. While people steadily stream down into the subway station, arrivals come in waves. The foot traffic has lulls. During rush hour, trains come every five minutes or so. A few moments after bringing folks to the table, the girls would squeal here they come again and run to the escalators, greeting the emerging throng with their hand-made signs and sale pitches.
Many commuters, still miserable after a day of recession era white collar labor, were dreary and oblivious to the ebullient youth. Others though acted like adults should whenever encountering the young, be pleasant and polite and always encouraging. Youth means hope and hope gains meaning only when shared.
It’s a good cause. Brownie Troop 12912, out of Grace Church Van Vorst, an Episcopal congregation that has been part of Jersey City since the mid-19th century and is as known for its art and cultural events and Sunday used book sales as it is for religious services. The troop is three years old and has, according to the troop leaders, 21 girls from all across the city. Unlike the 80s and 90s, when so called yuppies helped revitalize urban neighbors but moved away when they had children, this new generation as they age into parenthood aren’t fleeing to the suburbs to raise spawn. Welcome the new generation of city kids, wholesome, fun loving, in other words, kids like kids everywhere or anywhere at any time. We observe what we think is new but the truth is the same as it ever was.
Their enthusiasm is even more irresistible than the cookies. The supervising adults were glad to spend time with their children, and the neighbors and other folks who remembered the cookies from their own childhood, were glad to help out a positive cause. Many also just had the munchies. We need as much gladness as we can get. The Sandy Hook tragedy four months ago, the Boston Marathon bombing two days before… well, you figure it out… seeing these kids run around, gleeful and happy to be together… hope came out of exile again, quietly astonishing those willing to notice.