Volunteer-ism

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Full disclosure: this post is not about doing good. My colleague Laura has a lot of ideas about that which you should check out here.

If you ask, I will come, I will staple, fold and tape candies to things well after bedtime. I will make baked goods and forbid my family to even sample one bite lest there be too little for the teacher breakfast. I dust off my fake Louboutins for an evening out and pay money for something with 22 kids' fingerprints on it, only one of them my own. I say I do it for the kids or because I'm needed, but I get as much out of it socially as anything else. I have Volunteer-ism.

Volunteers are a funny bunch. In my experience, you start at the top: I was a parents association president what seemed like a few months after my youngest started full-day school. With experience, I have been able to climb down the the most prized position -- the worker bee.

But, if you are going to volunteer, you're going to have to meet. And you have to be careful when you meet.Here's how it usually goes, with some helpful advice along the way:

The text

A friend texts you about a great idea they have and asks if you want to join. Seventeen time, date and Starbucks location proposals later, a meeting is set.

Pre-Show

If you are smart, you’ve scheduled this meeting so it backs up to another commitment, usually school pickup time, so it does not go on all day. True Story: I once met with a friend after dropoff and almost missed pickup, so engrossing was the conversation. So you have 10 minutes and 10 minutes only to catch up on the holidays, remark on each other’s sartorial choices, delve very lightly into what’s going on with the kids. Do not mention the following or you will never get to the reason for this meeting in time: lice, dating, standardized tests, the election, Hamilton,  or any tv show you both watch.

Transition time  

Some people can perfectly segue between light conversation about how maddening auto-correct is into National Poetry Month (it’s right there if you really give it some thought) but if not, it’s ok to just shout the subject you said you were meeting to discuss a la a Tourette’s sufferer. Pickup Time is Coming!

The Dream

This is where you get to really lob all your ideas at each other. Potential corporate sponsorships, liaisons with Parent Teacher Organizations, fundraising opportunities and possible you-tube video tie-ins often come up. This is when that 8 shot latte you ordered (as I like to call it, a half and half because it’s half milk and half espresso) will come in handy.

The reality

The ideas have really piled up. You’ve got six distinct sheets of paper with several underlined points like “Mayor: Proclamation,” “Spring Break Dates?” and “Don't forget to fix saxophone.” That last one may have already been on the page before this meeting.  But what does it all mean? What needs to get done? And, more importantly, who is going to do it?

Brass Tacks

This is when you get down to 'em. Brass Tacks that is. Someone will usually say something like “What do we really have to do right away?” Or if they studied/worked in marketing they’ll just say “Next steps?” Another good one is to just pause and hope the other person says “I’ll write up a list of things we should do.” Although if you don’t write that list, be prepared to be assigned many of the things on it. Which is totally fair, those lists can be hard to do.

Alarm bells ring

Hopefully, they aren’t actually the ring-tone of one of your kids wondering where you are. Because you lost track of time when someone started talking about a podcast about a podcast about Hamilton. But, time always comes to bid adieu, and this is that time.

"I immediately regret this decision"

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Ok, Ron Burgundy had more to regret when he jumped into that bear pit. But the feelings you have as you walk to the car may vacillate between the lightness of a new project that will enrich everyone’s lives, just be the best and that nagging thought: “Wait, what did I just get myself into?"

Time to rope someone else into this thing

Are you available for coffee next week?