Sometimes we sit around our kitchens and kvetch, and that’s what I’m going to do now. This isn’t a major kvetch, nor is it about anything serious, but it’s annoying nonetheless, and so I’m going to bitch about it!
Background: my daughter’s school has a drop-off program where volunteer parents help get kids out of cars so we can keep traffic moving on the busy streets around the school building. I’ve been helping out with the program for about 5 years now, partly because I really enjoy it! The school has two yards, one for the little kids and one for the older kids. With few exceptions, I’ve spent every Monday morning for the past several years at the little kids’ gate helping to unbuckle seatbelts and remove backpacks and lunchboxes from minivans. I know the parents and the kids and the teachers at that gate, and I like saying hello every week.
Two weeks ago a new volunteer started helping out. He comes every two weeks. The first time he was there, I was a minute or so late, and he was already at the little gate, so I went to the big gate. No big deal. That’s how the system works. Yesterday I was there on time, I had on my very attractive reflective orange vest that says “YES I’M OFFICIAL” and had helped a half dozen kids from their cars, when this chap pulled up on his bike. He didn’t say hello and he didn’t make any other comment. Instead he just glared at me, like I had committed some horrible sort of moral crime.
I asked him, “Did you want to be here?” His reply, “I have a kid here.”
Did it occur to him for one moment that I might as well? Did it occur to him to say hello and ask nicely? Did it occur to him that the volunteers are so busy that we don’t have time to play peek-a-boo with our precious little angels mugging their classmates behind that fence? A nice, “Would you mind if I stayed here because I want to be near my son,” would have gone over just fine. The glare? Not so much.
It reminds me of those people who show up to synagogue (or presumably church, etc) services once a year for a big holiday. They will walk up to people sitting in the pews and say, quite seriously, “That’s my seat. My family has sat there for 30 years, every Yom Kippur,” They don’t care at all that the people in those seats sit there every other week (or sometimes day) of the year. This sense of selfish entitlement is annoying, and it’s really not very nice. It speaks poorly of the people who display it.
I didn’t say anything at the school ground because I’m there to help the kids and not argue, so I went to the other gate to help there. I was angry enough, though that for a short moment I considered calling the program coordinator and telling her I can’t come in anymore. I won’t do that, but it made me think about how organizations treat volunteers, and how volunteers treat each other. It’s hard to discipline a volunteer like one might an employee, because then that desperately-needed person just won’t come back. But sometimes people need to think about who they want to upset? Someone who comes in every week (sometimes more, as needed), and who has been doing this for 5 years, or someone who can suffer the half-hour twice a month and who thinks more about himself than about the people he’s working with.
End of kvetch.