Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why I Love to Volunteer

Yesterday,  I helped assemble gift bags for an event for about 250 people. In my mind, that is a very small event. The volunteer coordinator apologized to us for not having music to help keep us happy while we helped out.

The people working on the event had the room well laid out for an assembly line, starting with an open bag, passing the bag down the line to another volunteer to add a trinket from the station and pass it down.

Since I've worked for many non-profits and my old job involved supervising the events team, I enjoy helping out with a large scale events. It's always fun to be at a party and  I like seeing the variety of ways in which people solve event day problems. 

The people you work with also make these events fun. Yesterday's star was at the station after mine. Let's call her Xio. One of the gifts was a branded basil plant. Seeing the plants Xio says "Can you smoke that when it grows? They should have a plant you can smoke as a gift. That would be great!"

She was laughing at her joke and I was like a moth to a flame. I decided to stand next to her. Nothing is better than working with someone without a mind-mouth filter to pass the time.

Wait. I take that back. If Xio was an everyday coworker, I would daydream of her as the bunny in The Book of Bunny Suicides.

Xio was really entertained with her joke about smoking. "I wish I could have something to smoke right now. Roll it up and smoke it. Basil."

Everyone politely ignored her.  She chatted with the person on her other side. He was in real estate. Her spouse owns a real estate company. She went on and on about it and didn't let the other guy say another word.

I loved the look on his face. He was tall, dignified, and black. Being in sales, he knows how to make himself more interesting by pretending to listen.

We got a nice little rhythm going with the bags and the trinkets. There was the hum of bags shuffling between stations.

"I'd love a drink right about now. Beer. Maybe vodka mixed with something. I wonder how long before we can take a break for a drink."

Oh, Xio. You don't need to say everything you're thinking. But it certainly was entertaining. I didn't laugh but I just had this image of her as a total train wreck of a woman smoking and drinking and stuffing bags all the time.

No one responded. The hum resumed its proper place as the dominant sound in the room. A few minutes later Xio engaged me for the first time. "What do you do?"

"I'm between jobs right now." I was so excited to see what she would do with this piece of information without any of the qualifiers I might have attached to it under other circumstances.

She just let it all out. "You'll find something. I wish I had more time off in the summer. You could go to the beach for a few months. That would be fun. I bet you're having a better summer than anyone with a job. That sounds great."

Xio put this whole scenario in my head. While sipping mia-thais at my ocean side bungalow, a job would knock on the door. I'd throw on a slik wrap over my bikini and put on a pair of high healed slippers with pom-poms on top before answering.

"What do you do?"

Xio was eager to tell me. "I'm in marketing and PR for a law firm."

Job applications: 0
Networking events: 2
New contacts: 2

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