This I Believe

Ellie - Fort Thomas, Kentucky
Entered on January 16, 2008

There are certain things you do as a kid that affect you for the rest of your life. My cousin Gretchen and I got involved in one such pastime that shaped my beliefs and personal philosophy that I continue to hold today. Often—maybe even twice a week—we lugged chairs, a table, and pitchers of lemonade down her steep driveway, taped a sign reading “25 cents” to the stop sign, and patiently waited for thirsty customers. Our experiences of sitting on the corner selling lemonade on the hottest days of the year contributed to the formation of a belief which I try to hold true to even on the busiest of summer days: my belief in stopping at lemonade stands whenever possible.

I suppose my belief originated out of my frustration in watching car after car pass without stopping to do business. They say a smile can brighten someone’s day. This is definitely not the case with kids selling lemonade and if you take nothing else from my essay I want it to be that if you don’t plan to stop and buy something, DO NOT SMILE. There is nothing more disappointing than seeing someone stop (because of the stop sign), give you a big smile, and then just keep driving. If you can’t humor them by buying their lemonade, pretend you don’t see them and, although kids aren’t stupid, they’ll forgive you for not stopping.

Hopefully, however, you won’t have to resort to the no-smile-keep-driving method. It’s really not much of a sacrifice to pull over, gather a few coins from the floor of the car and trade them in for a cup of lemonade which, while it may have spilled down the side of the cup, is generally pretty refreshing. It’s a win-win situation. You get a drink on a hot day and they get fifty cents to add to their cup of profit.

Which brings me to my next point. As far as finding a good way to give back to the community, I view lemonade stands as one of the most humble, honest ways to donate money. Too often businesses boast their generosity to certain nonprofit organizations all as part of a scheme to make you buy their products. Giving money to kids at a lemonade stand ensures that your entire fifty cents will go to the organization of their choice. For Gretchen and I, the money usually went toward buying gifts for family members or decorations for our clubhouse but regardless of our plans for the money we earned, we appreciated our customers and didn’t take advantage of a single cent.

I also believe that stopping at lemonade stands offers a good reason to slow down and just enjoy a nice summer day. I never want to become the person who is too caught up in work or other things to pause for as little as five minutes to make a kid happy. On one occasion, an ambulance driver took the time to maneuver his ambulance up Gretchen’s steep driveway and buy a lemonade. Obviously there wasn’t a patient with an emergency in the back of the ambulance, however the excitement of having a real emergency vehicle at our stand made Gretchen and I giddy. By stopping at lemonade stands, I believe that everyone can make a small difference in the way a kid grows up thinking about generosity and kindness of their neighbors. I believe that it is important to have enthusiasm for the innocent ideas and endeavors of kids. For this reason, I will always stop at their lemonade stands.