Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Eager Volunteer

It's Summer Vacation!!!!!! I'm pretty happy about it. I joined the Duluth Rowing Club and have been out rowing with the master's rowing team a few times. I was signing my membership form the other day, and there is a line on it that says members are expected to contribute 10 hours of volunteer time to the club sometime throughout the year.

I read that out loud to Mitch and he said, “Well, you may as well just tear it up! They should know YOU are NOT going to do THAT!”

I know what you are saying. You are saying, “God, Sarah, why is he being such a bitch?” Let me explain his position and maybe you will understand.

When the kids were very small and were involved in the city hockey league, I got a call out of the blue from a woman I had never met. I wasn't that crazy about the kids being in organized hockey in the first place because in case you didn't know it, hockey parents in Minnesota tend to lose their minds about hockey. Most of the parents are decent people, but they can't make up for the wackos that constantly screech asinine things from bleachers during games like, “GET THE PUCK!” and “Put it IN THE NET!” (No shit.) Or worse yet, they clang cowbells. These people have shopped for, and remembered to bring COWBELLS to clang nonstop, indoors, amongst crowds of people. Who does that?

Anyway, back to the call from the woman I never met: She left a looooooong, obnoxious message on my voicemail that outlined the many hours I would be volunteering for that WEEK, and where and when I should show up. She didn't ask if I wanted to do it, she didn't even ask me to call her back to talk about volunteering, she just assumed I had nothing better to do than work at a concession stand and sell Ring Pops to kids with snot trails on their faces that they can't even feel because they are so cold, and then just stand there and watch while they eat them. That's torture, not volunteering.

For some reason that phone call flipped a switch of stubbornness in me that even after a decade, I can't switch off, and here's why: Volunteering is optional. It is something one does because they feel compelled to contribute their time to a cause that they feel is worthwhile. Calling someone and TELLING them when they will be volunteering, and assuming they will just do it goes against the very nature of volunteering. So I refused to do it. Did I feel guilty leaving all the burden for rink flooding, locker-room supervising, and concession stand-manning to Mitch? A little, but not enough to give in.

I know what you are thinking, “Hey Sarah, in all the years your kids have been involved in hockey, haven't any parents ever asked where you are and why you aren't volunteering?” Good question. Sure they have, but Mitch tells them, “She didn't pass the background check,” and they drop the subject.

And I'm okay with that.

Now you're saying, “But Sarah, you're a teacher. Of course you've passed a background check!” Well, the hockey parent's haven't put two and two together yet. Big shirts, little hats, apparently.

So now you are wondering if I am going to let the ten hours of “mandatory volunteering” keep me from joining the rowing club. No, I will do it. It's ten hours, not 8 million like the hockey league expects. And it probably won't involve watching kids with blue lips suck on disgusting Ring Pops.