It was about ten years ago when I was living in Spokane, Washington that I made a decision to stop every time I came across a lemonade stand. This decision came about one day when I was driving and saw three boys staked out next to the street in front of their home. They had set up a makeshift table of boxes and an old board across them on which they’d placed a pitcher of red Kool-Aid and a stack of Styrofoam cups.
I felt the need to stop. Not because I was thirsty, but for an entirely different reason. You see, I’d always wanted to sell lemonade when I was a kid and earn pocketfuls of money from doing so, however, being raised on a back country road for most of one’s childhood limits the number of customers a stand like that would actually acquire. Couple that with a paranoid mom and you can imagine the result…
As I came closer I noticed the message the boys had written on their makeshift sign; it proudly proclaimed, World’s Best Kool-Aid…25¢ a glass.
All three boys straightened up as I pulled over to the curb, obviously trying to impress a potential customer.
“World’s best Kool-Aid?” I asked.
The three nodded their heads vigorously.
“It sure is, sir, we made it ourselves!” one of the boys proclaimed proudly. “With sugar and everything.”
“Really? Well, in that case, I think I need to buy a glass.”
At once the boys set into action, one getting the little white cup ready while another carefully lifted the pitcher and began to pour that red, sticky liquid into it all the way up to the brim. The last boy took the cup and carried it carefully to my car, followed by the other two.
As I carefully took the overfilled-cup I said, “One quarter for the three of you? That’s going to be hard to split. I’ll tell you what; if you give me a couple of smiles to go along with this, I think that would be worth an extra 50¢”
All three boys broke into the widest grins I’d ever seen. For a moment I thought that the boy in the middle’s face was going to split right open.
Luckily, it didn’t.
“Now that was worth the extra 50¢!” I handed over the three shiny coins.
As I drove away, balancing the cup precariously in my non-steering hand, I watched the three boys through my rear-view mirror give each other high-fives and celebrate over their tripled profits, slapping each other on the back.
Photo from: http://flickr.com/photos/lorenzodom/33805540/
I smiled as I maneuvered my car through the heavy traffic for several blocks. When I was out of sight of the boys, I pulled over to the side of the road and dumped the Kool-Aid onto the grass.
After all, I didn’t stop for Kool-Aid; I’d stopped to support childhood.
It was the best 75¢ I’ve ever spent.