We were given a finite amount of time to collect the money for the trip to Australia. Like I said before, my parents listed out a few ways to start. One of which was a classic.
In certain states we can return used bottles to redemption centers for change. Different bottles and cans are worth different amounts. At some point someone got the bright idea to have a ‘bottle drive’. Groups of us would go out and collect bottles and cans, bring them to a redemption center where they would pay us.
Often this would be done with groups of people, splitting up into teams to divide and conquer the city. It was a lot of fun if you had people to work with. It was a lot less fun if it was cold, dreary, and no team to work with.
You’ve already guessed that I took part in a personal bottle drive. Yet I think we can all relate to some of the thoughts and feelings.
Through my story I hope you, reader, can reflect on a few situations that happened to you. Maybe get some insights or maybe a good laugh.
I’ve started to realize that writing and information presented can mean many different things. The way in which we write and read can reveal different aspects of thoughts, ideas, feelings that are hidden behind the words. I suppose that’s called, reading between the lines. Try it with different annunciation on different words to see if the meaning changes.
Bottles from Hell
It was early spring but the clouds were still relentlessly covering the sky.
Days like those really made me want to stay in bed. Cold, damp, dreary just didn’t seem very… enticing. My bed felt like a roll of fly tape.
With distant calls from my parents, I peeled myself from my bed and went upstairs for breakfast.
Cold cereal it is.
It’s Maine. It’s cold, grey. I’m not feeling particularly motivated but this is the one day my father had to help me go out and collect bottles. Because it’s cold and I’ll be handling gross bottles I don’t need to dress up. That makes me feel better. I love comfy clothes.
My father collects me and we hop in the car.
If you aren’t familiar with Lewiston I’ll give you the low down. We live in a town mostly residential. Our main streets run right through neighborhoods. It’s literally suburbia defined. No tall buildings, no HOA, just house after house, after house, after house.
Which is great for bottle collecting by the way.
Waking up that day was a struggle, clearly. Why? Wouldn’t I be excited to go collect money for my venture? I guess so, but on that day I hated the idea of asking people for it. My introverted and negative side was in full swing. It was a constant battle in my head of “I don’t want to do this” and “It’ll be fine just get it over with” to “Why do I have to do this again?”.
Over and over, different versions of these went through my head.
Unmotivated and slow. So hopelessly slow.
“What’s wrong with me? I need to be happy today.” I think as we pull out of the driveway.
Now that I’ve made myself look like a sad and hopelessly depressed child, I really wasn’t. I’m by nature very energetic and happy. An introvert mixed with varying extroverted tendencies.
I’ve thought about why I had these days when I was unmotivated, depressed, sluggish. I know diet is partially to blame after doing various adult experiments. The other end might very well be that I wasn’t included in the planning process. I was more told what to do rather than asked or brought through a process.
I’ll fully admit that I have no clue what it was like to ask me questions and get me to participate as a teenager. Knowing myself later in life I know that I could be extremely frustrating and indecisive. It’s very easy to say my parents should have included me in the decision making process but what I don’t know is how I responded to questions they surely asked me. I’m almost positive that because I wasn’t very interactive they assumed control of the situation and decided to bring me along for the ride.
I’m assuming that the result inside my head was an unmotivated response that had nothing to do with cold weather and dragging bags of bottles around. It had to do with a detachment to the process and not getting involved in deciding what actions to take to collect money for my trip.
I hope that makes sense. I’ve thought about this while writing it, and I know my parents did their best. Honestly if they hadn’t put me in these situations I wouldn’t be able to look back and pick myself apart and learn from it.
The Dreary Day
The plan was hit as many houses as we could to collect bottles. My parents and I have a mutual agreement that I can go on a trip to Australia if I chip in a few hundred dollars. It seemed like an impossible task but I barely paid any attention.
I really just wanted to go to Australia!
Finding money was a mutual interest but the one thing I didn’t want to do was a bottle drive, alone. It sucked less when I had friends around, but this time it was just myself and Pops. I love hanging with dad but the situation presenting the way it did… well we can all imagine there was a little tension and frustration on both sides.
We drove for a few minutes and decided to stop on a street. Pops was the getaway driver, I the collector.
Drive, pick a house.
Drive, house, no answer.
Drive, house, no bottles.
No bottles, no answer.
To my memory that’s how it went.
I found out through asking a few questions that an age old enemy had previously been there a few days prior.
The Girl Scouts.
With their wonderful cookies and cute girly faces. Damn them for taking all my bottles!
I started to complain.
Not necessarily on purpose, but I was distraught with the cold and bottle-less houses.
Tempers a little high, and frustration running full stream, bless pops and his patiences, we turned toward home.
I was relieved. Ashamed and a little embarrassed but relieved.
Although I would have to withstand some beratement and feelings of unease, that was better than being out in the cold, runny nose, asking for bottles that the Girl Scouts clearly had plotted to steal.
Months later my chattery band class was gathered, doing band class things. I was joking around per usual as someone passed out papers.
As I looked my heart sank.
Another fundraiser. Oh lord let it not be true!
Usually I would take steps to ignore it, pass it sheepishly to my parents at the last minute, and pretend like I was too busy with homework. Generally speaking my parents were much smarter and better at getting these weird fundraisers up to quota better than I was.
This time, things were a little different. Mr. S passed the podium onto a friend of mine, and she began to explain what we needed to do.
This time we were selling cookie dough. Who the hell doesn’t like cookie dough? I know, I know. No one dislikes cookie dough.
On top of this wonderful and delicious development there were cash prizes to be won. I stopped listening.
All I heard was free money, cookie dough, and easy sale.
I knew in my gut that this would be a homerun. I don’t know what changed but there was a confident feeling in me that said, “You’ve got this.”
Comparing that kind of certainty to what I’ve previously felt is completely different. I had always dreaded this kind of thing. I knew it required me to go door to door, asking for money in one way or another.
I don’t know if it was the cookie dough I was selling or if I just thought it would be easy to sell. It doesn’t matter because I went home that day excited to go out and earn some ‘free’ money.
So it began. At first I was somewhat reliant on my family to drive me around. I think my mom was up first. I was old enough at this point to be dropped off and left to walk the entire street. It was still early spring so the weather was starting to warm a little, and the sun would make an appearance every so often.
I hit neighborhood after neighborhood.
After my mom started to get busy and the weather was a little warmer I took my bike out on my own. I remember this because the weather was warm and 3pm is too early for people to be home in a town like Lewiston.
My sister even kicked in some time. We went out for about an hour one night.
The point of all these stops isn’t to talk about my skill at pushing people to buy cookie dough. It’s more of the awareness that my attitude changed suddenly and without effort.
There was still a promise of money. The weather might be getting warmer but in Maine good weather is a luxury between the months of October and May. So it wasn’t necessarily the improving weather.
No, what I think happened was that I was initially motivated by how easy I thought it would be to sell cookie dough. I didn’t tell anyone what I planned. I actually kept most of what I hoped to accomplish to myself.
Most of the time I just asked for help with transportation.
I kept in mind that even though this wasn’t a ton of money it was a way that I could prove I was serious about my intentions to go to Australia. The bottle kabash was enough to disappoint and discourage anyone. So I had some making up to do.
Turns out that with some early success I was able to keep up my motivation. I honestly don’t know why I pushed so hard. I just focused on the moment, kept my eye on the next door and kept knocking and getting people to buy cookie dough.
Honestly I can’t remember how long the fundraiser lasted. I just remember the feeling of accomplishment and pride I had for selling so many tubs of it.
On the day we turned in our order sheets I was nervous. I had no idea how much I sold compared to my classmates, but as the numbers were read out loud, turns out that I was top in sales.
The raffle for the cash went like this. For every X amount that we sold we would get a ticket with our name on it placed in the jar therefore increasing our chances of winning.
If I remember, there were four cash prizes in increasing amounts.
First name? Jason
Second name? Jason
Third name? Not Jason
Fourth name? … Jason
I was giggling uncontrollably. Honestly it was really annoying but I couldn’t help it! I had never won so much from a raffle before or after.
It wasn’t impressing my classmates I cared about.
I went home that day, looked my parents up and down and presented the money.