Sunday, December 9, 2012

Volunteerism- Mama said knock you out...

 For the second year in a row, I volunteered to work the cafe for the school's art sale, a big fundraiser, where they bring in local artists, who sell their wares, and give the school a cut of the profit.

This year I asked my mom to help me with the two person shift.  She needs stuff to do, and I didn't want to be stuck with a stranger, so it felt like a win/win solution.  We signed up on the nifty little online sign up gadget for the opening shift, 9:30-12.

I picked mom up at 8:45 and we walked into the "cafe" at 9:10.  The cafe had been set up in the teacher's lounge with lots of extension cords, for heating up food and making coffee.

There was one dad, who had been tasked with shopping, donation solicitation/pickup  and set up.
There was also this very uptight woman from the previous year, dressed like she was going to a business meeting, in heels and a sweater dress, looking all stressed out from the moment we walked in. She and I had not really clicked, the year before, so naturally I was not excited to see her again, and I could tell the feeling was mutual.   I don't know why this gal didn't like, or approve of me, but she clearly didn't and we danced the dance the year before, where I was polite and she was nasty and pinched, and frankly, I was not in the mood to for a repeat performance.

She looked my way and ignored me when I walked in, so I said "Hi! I'm Heidi, and this is my mom, who has volunteered to help. I did this job last year, remind me of your name." because honestly, I had blocked it out of my memory! She walked over and reluctantly greeted me (if you need visuals, imagine short, zaftig blonde woman and her skinny mother, and tower of power, cranky sweater dress lady looking, literally down on us).

The vending table looked like shit.  There were handwritten napkins with menus and prices.  There were dried out pieces of bunt cake.
Things were all messed up and if there is one thing both mom and I do is unmess things.
In moments  I had arranged the food and my mom had counted faced all the cash in the cash drawer.  Sweater lady was selling her own line of cookies, and was otherwise occupied while we were setting up, so she sent her 12 year old mini-me over to meddle.
She pulled a pile of napkins out of my mother's hand, and mom pulled them back.
She took a plate of donuts out of my hand and rearranged them, then she reached over and started to pull a pile of paper plates out of my mother's hand and I just snapped.
You can insult me, but I will be damned if you will be rude to my mother, to anyone's mother, really.  So I reached out and took the plates and said "Stop. I am working with those, you need to move away."
the whole room went silent.  The girl, one of those girls who is not used to anyone putting her in her place was silent, her mother was silent.
My mother, who doesn't give a shit, what anyone thinks, cracked a smile.
I said

"this is a case of too many cooks spoil the soup.  If you have a master plan for this set up, you need to either share it, and that means creating a map of the lay out, a menu with prices, organizing the cash, and a list of 'to do items', and you need to have it all set up before your volunteers arrive.  Or you need to be respectful of the people that are volunteering and stay out of the way.  And you need to control your child, because if I have anything yanked out of my hands by a 12 year old again today, I will respond in a manner that you will not find pleasing. " 

The room went silent again, sweater dress and her daughter left and we merrily sold our soup and donuts until the end of our shift. 


  1. I laughed at "I will respond in a manner that you will not find pleasing" Excellent statement. I'm glad sweater dress got the message.

  2. I totally <3 you.