Tuesday, September 17, 2013

No good deed goes . . .

. . . without someone yelling “your customer service is horrible”; and for a moment, you think, “they might be right, this isn’t my best moment . . .”

And then it hits you. . . “What am I, f*#&ing Nordstroms?!”  And then you will have a conversation in your head with that person in which you say “and by the way, in case you were unclear, “volunteer” means I’m paid exactly NOTHING to put up with verbal abuse from people like you.  Oh, and in case you wanted to file a customer service complaint, please let them know how to properly serve a pink slip . . . including a severance package.”

And that is how I started out the girl scouts new year-a mom becoming very upset with me because I could not give her the answer she wanted, and therefore I needed to be schooled about customer service.  

So I began reflecting on how I got myself into this predicament in the first place.   

Here goes . . . "I admit it, my name is Mommy and I’m a serial volunteer."  

I get it from the Nana and I just can’t help myself, every time someone asks for help, I check the “yes” box.  And as I’m sure you all know, I open my mouth often enough that I find myself in charge of things before I realize what I’ve done.

So since I don’t see entering myself into “volunteer addiction” rehab anytime soon, I figured that in case it might be helpful to anyone (including myself) in the future, I’d provide my lessons learned about coping with your volunteer addiction (oh yeah, you guessed it, these include all the dirty little secrets of volunteering that no one ever admits in public):

     1)   If you have a friend who 4 out of 5 times she calls you she says “hey, I have a great new project”; HANG UP THE F*&#ING PHONE.  For if you do not, you will find yourself serving as the day of coordinator for a local community event that requires your attendance at 4:30 in the morning and the scene can best be described as organized chaos.  By 8:30am you WILL be ready for a shot of vodka (forget the Skinnygirl on that one, go for the hard stuff).
      2)   Find yourself a buddy to whom you can send late night emails that drop more “F bombs” than a Navy crew out to sea.  For if you do this, you can then gather yourself and put on your sugary sweetness to respond to whichever fellow volunteer or staff person that has pissed you off.   WARNING: Occasionally one of those F bomb e-mails slips through, which leads us to #3 . . .

      3)   If you don’t want something you write to go past your lips (and well past God's ears, or eyes . . . what is that saying?!), DON’T PUSH SEND!  For if you do not follow this and you send an e-mail that calls something the "tackiest thing you’ve ever seen and XYZ organization should be ashamed of itself", your friend might accidentally forward on your message to one of the people at that organization thereby spurring a flurry of apologetic e-mails that you will then feel bad about . . . and then you will realize that you’re me and in fact you don’t feel bad and it’s actually good that sometimes people see your unadulterated (i.e. unfiltered and not at all diplomatic) reactions to some of the things they do.  That organization will NEVER do what it did again (so as to protect the guilty, I won’t share specifics of the offense).

      4) Do NOT schedule work meetings too close to your volunteer time at the children's school.  For if you do, you may be rushing in the workroom and you MAY find that you have stuck your hand in the recycle bin and you can't remove it without some help!!
Did I mention I have a post graduate education?!  Seriously, I SHOULD NOT be left unattended in the copy room.  By the way, who decides to make a slit that is like a vice grip in the lid of those things?!  Are they afraid you will steal the recycled paper?!
5) And finally, every once in a while you attend a fundraising event where they provide you the opportunity to both blow off steam AND look like an @$$!  Take full advantage of all of these opportunities.

Yep, that would be me on a bull at a Girl Scouts fundraiser.  I'm telling you, these ladies know how to do it right!!  And for all the moms whose girls are in my troop . . . yes, you trust me with your kids to teach them to be good, upstanding citizens.  What are you thinking?!
And just because I know how much everyone will appreciate that this whole serial volunteerism is a multi-generational thing, I can’t help myself but share a couple of Nana’s examples.  These examples will verify why anything that happens to me as a result of my volunteer shenanigans is Karma!!:

     1)   If you are trying to be "fun mom" and you say “yes” to chaperoning your 17 year old daughter’s swing choir on a trip to Disneyland, you really should be prepared for your daughter to screw you over!  For on one of the nights in Disneyland she MAY convince you to go to the choir director and beg for the kids to have a midnight curfew (rather than the normal 10pm) so the kids can stay out later; and after you do such convincing, that daughter may leave the park with her friends at 10:30pm leaving you there, exhausted, until midnight because the Choir Director put you in charge of making sure all the kids got home safe AT MIDNIGHT!!!  That daughter sucks and deserves whatever fertility and crazy children she has coming to her.  In that daughter's defense, she DID believe she'd stay until midnight.  Her friends wanted to leave early!

      2)   And, if you DO NOT learn your “please mom, chaperone so we can stay out later” lesson, you deserve all that is coming to you when 3 months later you agree to take the overnight 10pm-5am shift at grad night only to find out when you arrive at 10pm that your sh*t of a daughter left 30 minutes earlier with a friend and she CAN’T come back to the party because she left and they have a rule not to let the kids who left come back in again for fear that those kids who left might be in a ditch drinking Boone’s Strawberry Hill and will come back intoxicated.  (And by the way, it's not lost on me that that is the longest run on sentence ever and I never should have graduated high school).  Not that I’m admitting anything now, but lets just say I’m so glad they did NOT have cell phones or GPS in 1992.  Oh, and, I will deny any involvement in this story when the Superego asks about it.  I will tell her that it was all Auntie Ju Ju and that the Nana is senile.

I can't imagine why anyone would think THIS girl would be capable of any of those shenanigans mentioned.  By the way, I've seen that smug look somewhere, where could it be?!
I AM NOT agreeing to chaperone this one.  She'll be her father's problem!!
But,  alas, despite frustrations and “slap on the forehead” moments, THIS is how you can continue the serial volunteerism for generations to come, and here is only a small sampling of why I continue to do it, and I will never give it up:

At our "Happy Birthday America" Camp Runamuk, the girls and their friends made Happy 4th of July cards for the Wounded Warriors.  We sent them off just in time for them to receive them on 4th of July and we received the nicest letter back.

I removed the picture and troop number from this, but this was one of the nicest things anyone did for me after my stint as the Girl Scout cookie cupboard.  The time and thought that went into this was so sweet and really made my day!

Words can't express how grateful I am for this card from Sandy Hook Elementary school following our donation of snowflakes for their classrooms.  My heart still aches for those children and families.

This was something nice from the Superego's teacher.  Simple and unique.  I loved it.  The Ego's teacher gave unique cards with photos of gorgeous flowers.  Also a thoughtful and useful gift!
 What is your favorite "never forget" volunteer moment?


  1. Great Post! Love it! I too have volunteer addiction and need to find a serious support group soon! But, because you asked... let me share: I have tons of favorite "never forget" volunteer moments! The most recent one was volunteering for the Poway Parade for one reason only... so that about 40 Special Olympic athletes could walk in the parade and feel like TOTAL ROCKSTARS! That was my goal several months ago when I agreed to volunteer to help produce the parade. I was super naive... I thought to make a parade you just lined some people up on a street and said "Go...{wait 30 seconds)... Go... (wait 30 seconds)...Go.." and there you had a parade. Really? How hard could this be? Sure, I'll volunteer! Well, there is a lot more work than that! Many times I was like, "Why the HELL am I doing this?" Then, I would envision those athletes walking down the road to cheers and applause and it would push me a bit further. The day finally came and it was HOT and the athletes were sweating and I was second guessing if this was a good idea or not. But... then, in the last 100 feet of the parade, the VIP section in the grandstands, STOOD UP on their feet and gave these athletes a standing ovation! One of the athletes turned to me and asked, "Do you think they might want my autograph?" BOOOYA! THAT IS WHY I DID THIS! YES! They want your autograph!! These kids are made to feel "special" in "not normal" ways so often... this time they felt "special" because they are ROCKSTARS!! If anyone deserves a standing ovation, these athletes do! So, yup... I will continue to volunteer and endure some of the crazy to enjoy these small moments of TOTAL REWARD!

    1. You are absolutely right . . . that reward is priceless and will live on in your memories forever!!!! Thank you for reading and commenting. I'm so grateful for all that you do, and I can't wait to get an autograph for those amazing athletes. They will be priceless!! :-)

    2. from those athletes, not for those athletes (d@mn autocorrect)!!!

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Dana! That is so sweet and thank you for following and commenting, and for putting up with some of these shenanigans in real life!!

  3. Heather, I LOVE your posts and I laugh and cry everytime I read one. You are wise and funny and I so wish I'd had a friend like you when I was going through the volunteer addiction phase of my life. I am now down to one organization that's actually very well run and I volunteer whenever I want to schedule myself. They appreciate me several times a year with nice luncheons if I choose to attend. It's all so civilized and I'm not running anything!!!! Yeah. By the way, the organization I speak of is the Navy Marine Corp Relief Society at Miramar. Volunteers are always welcome...did I just say that? LOL

    1. Thank you so much for your kind note!! That made my day. And, I always LOVE to hear about organizations that really take care of their volunteers. It's the little things that keep us all going.