Back in my early years of motherhood, I was a push-over for all the Madison Ave. hype about products vital to the health and welfare of children.
I'm convinced the ad agencies had my picture on the wall of their conference rooms with a plaque reading "Target Shopper."
I was so determined to make the right choices for my trio of little ones that I was an easy mark for the endless flood of television, newspaper and magazine ads aimed at gullible new parents like me.
For instance, when I saw how much Mikey enjoyed Life Cereal, I made sure there was an ample supply on our cereal shelf. And from an early age, my kids were dressed in Health-Tex, took Flintstone Vitamins and were patched up with Band Aid bandages. Fortunately, after one eye-opening experience with brand name prices, I realized it was vital to the family budget that I learn to compare costs before making any purchases for our tots.
The event that convinced me was a trip to the local shoe store for Becky's first pair of shoes.
The store, located in an upscale shopping center, was decorated with kid-pleasing pictures and furnished with munchkin-size chairs. A few expensive adult pieces were added for doting parents.
When the well-dressed shoe-lady brought out the little white shoes, I noticed she handled them with great reverence, as though they were already bronzed for posterity.
After fitting our squirming daughter with the tiny shoes, the lady showed us the price tag for these wee foot coverings. It was a revealing moment in my adult life and one that helped me to realize why every gambler in Las Vegas calls out as he rolls the dice, "Baby needs a new pair of shoes!"
George and I exchanged a quick glance, thanked the nice lady, then took Becky to K-Mart for her first shoes......which, by the way, she outgrew within 6 months.
It was one of the most important lessons in our parenting guide book. The point is that children will thrive whether dressed at Wal-Mart or Nieman Marcus.
From that point on, we developed a more realistic shopping style, one that would allow us to both feed AND house the kids on our income.
Through the years, we've worked to perfect that realistic shopping style and firm up our sales resistence
These days, since I easily ignore the television ads for new cars, carpeting, breath mints and all manner of products, I think the Madison Avenue agencies have finally taken down my picture and turned their attention to more gullible shoppers.
But now, unfortunately, it's the fund-raising folks who have decided to target me. Like everyone else, I get constant pleas in the mail for donations to dozens of "worthy causes." And, with most of these "urgent" requests, I can count on a page or two of address labels, designed to make me feel guilty if I don't respond.
I've found the mail pleas can easily be ignored. But it's those endless solicitation calls, generally coming during mealtimes, that tend to bug me.
Most are recorded messages. These I quickly end by simply hanging up. But, from time to time, there will be an actual person on the line.
Usually they greet me by name....often mis-pronounced..... Hello, Mrs. Skenk....uh.....Shonk.....uh....Schoo.....
After I correct the caller, they open with the pitch, "As a family of animal lovers, we know you will want to help......"
Then they introduce their cause: Save Underprivileged Cats and Kittens from Excessive Regulations."
I write down the name and listen for a moment to the pitch. But it's only after I turn down the caller's plea and hang up that I put it all together. I realize the "cause" spells out: SUCKER.
And, even though I never donate, I'm afraid somewhere out there, my picture is on the wall of the fund raising call center. Underneath there's sure to be a note that reads, "If you can get money from her, you can get it from anyone. Keep calling!"