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How A Peppermint Patty Changed My Life

This post could also be titled “Why you should answer the door when some little kid rings your doorbell.”

Okay, so maybe the peppermint patty did not actually change me, but it sure had a huge impact on my life.

It all started when I was 10 years old. I spent my Saturday’s at the YMCA in downtown Canton, Ohio. They showed movies, served my favorite lunch of a hotdog, chips and a soda, and pretty much kept me out of my mom’s hair.

One Saturday the director came to speak to all of us Saturday kids about attending the YMCA overnight summer camp, Camp Tippecanoe. I was excited. I had never been to an overnight camp and this was my chance to go.

The only problem was the camp cost money and my family did not have any of that, at least not enough to send me to camp. There was a second way to cover the camp’s cost. I could earn my way by selling YMCA mints at a buck a box. I came home very excited to tell my mom about camp but she confirmed what I already knew; there was no money for me to go to camp.

I explained to her how I could earn my way by selling peppermint patties. Mom reminded me of another problem that I forgot to consider. I was painfully shy and extremely quiet. In fact, I rarely spoke. After much begging, she said I could try one case and if I did not sell them, it was game over.

We picked up the case of 24 boxes the following Saturday morning and I loaded up my little red wagon and started walking the neighborhood knocking on doors. By the middle of the afternoon I returned home having sold all 24 boxes and putting $24 on the kitchen table.

Mom was stunned and asked me how I managed to sell any, let alone all of the boxes. I told her my secret. I would ring the doorbell and when someone answered I would try to force myself to talk. If I had trouble, I would smile, hand them the camp brochure and a hand-written note. My note was simple; it asked them to buy so I could go to summer camp. Then I would say thank you and wait.

The results were quite amazing as I earned not one but two weeks of camp and became the top salesman. Not bad for a kid who was afraid to talk!

What I really learned from the peppermint patty experience was that I could do something that no one thought was possible. That was a huge boost to my very fragile self esteem. Of course, I still had difficulty communicating, but even that began to improve with my new found confidence.

Fifty-plus years later, I still have a deep fondness for peppermint patties and am still very appreciative of all the people who opened their door to that shy kid ringing their doorbell.

Read more posts by Gary Sirak here. Gary is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.