The Volunteer State (…of mind)
Kat here again. Bert’s looking the other way, so I’m in control at the moment……. Bwah haha.
So it might look like we’re just decided to leave everything behind and lead a nomadic and carefree life (well, it’s partly true), but there’s a little more to it than that. We both realise just how fortunate we are to be able to do this (maybe fodder for another post….), and we want to ‘give back’ in some way. No man is an island, and that was one of the things we knew we were going to miss the most when leaving Raleigh – our friends, support network, community and human contact.
We didn’t publicise it that much but our goal whilst driving around in our ridiculously large setup is to do some sort of volunteer work in every state we go through. So how apropos that our first state we go through and volunteer in is Tennessee – The Volunteer State.
They got that name in the War of 1812, where the volunteer soldiers from Tennessee played a big part, especially in the Battle of New Orleans. Well, that’s according to Wikipedia anyway, so who knows the real story.
Now, we’re not similar to the good ole Tennessee-eans in the fact that we’re not in a hurry to go fight people. But I do enjoy a good charity race, complete with refreshments and things. On Saturday 4th June there was a Crohns and Colitis walk (complete with portapotties…..which were probably pretty dangerous to go in at the end of the day, given the target audience) in downtown Nashville, so we took ourselves downtown for 6.30am where we manned the sno cone and cotton candy/candy floss area. For those of you from places other than the US, it basically meant we were like legitimate candy drug dealers, pushing sugar crack out to any kid that looked susceptible (all of them), and watching from afar the toll it took on both them and their loved ones. By the end of the day we were sticky, messy and entirely out of sno-cones and candy floss, but with a lot of satisfied customers (who were identified by having blue mouths and meltdowns).
On an entirely side note, it’s amazing how very few people actually have manners nowadays.
Now, I admit there is somewhat of a cultural divide, seeing as I was brought up to apologise if someone trod on my toes, but at a rough guess (statistics alert again) about 95% of adults and 98% of children requested a sno cone in the following manner………………..‘Give me the raspberry’, ‘I’m gonna go for the cherry’, ‘I’ll have blue’ or ‘I want a pineapple one’. Or even ‘Blue’.
What? It didn’t take too long for me to get totally tired of that, and so every time the kids asked in that manner I asked what the magic word was (in a fun way, of course!). Some kids got it pretty quick, some needed some prompting – ‘it begins with p’ and others were totally clueless. However, pretty much all of the repeat customers (identified by the bright blue or red mouths) had caught on, and proudly over-exaggerated the said magic word, and told all the new people that they have to ‘say please!’.
I even pushed it with most of the adults, although most were totally flummoxed that someone would talk to them like that (I would imagine that they thought ‘How rude that someone was telling me to be polite!’). The guy on the sno cone station with me pointed out that I had a lot better chance at people doing it because of my accent, and the fact that they associated the English accent with Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins was the one who taught politeness makes the world go round (or something like that). I did tell some 8 year olds that politeness was the mark of a civilized society, and their response was ‘huh?’.
Anyway, short rant diversion over with. In the past we’ve volunteered to help with a few charity walks, and it’s always interesting to see the organization skills of the people putting it on. If there is one person in charge of everything, then things tend to be quite inefficient, with volunteers (who know nothing) or other people hanging around and waiting for further instruction, or following that person around like a sheep trying to get their attention. But if that one person has assigned multiple other people to be responsible for certain things, and good instructions have been given out beforehand, then things are a lot more efficient. This one was a bit of both. One person was the contact person, leading the event, but with some support people in other roles. So there was a bit of standing around and wondering ‘what now’, as well as periods of feeling useful and doing things and connecting with people (apart from making them say ‘please’). And that’s why we’re doing this. To be useful, to connect with people and hopefully to make a small difference in some way. One of my favorite quotes is from Ralph Waldo Emerson on the definition of success:
Who knows what form other volunteer opportunities may take in the coming year – we’re open to pretty much doing anything to help others, whether it’s a charity or individual people. So we’re on the lookout for more opportunities as we make our way across the country……if anyone knows of anything, let us know – we’re up to Kentucky next, then probably Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and other places in between.
So dear readers, in the comments please let us know if there’s any volunteer opportunities that you know of that we can do. Oh, and while you’re there – am I being totally unreasonable in my thoughts that ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are fundamental in learning to get along with each other, and anyone who doesn’t use them should be ostracized from society and possibly flagellated?