A step behind

Who me? Get distracted?

The church we attend has two big screens at the front where the congregation can easily use these to view hymn lyrics, scripture, videos, sermon bullet points, etc. This past Sunday the screen on the right must have been experiencing a bit of technical difficulty as it did some flickering. Since we were sitting in the balcony, we had a first-hand view of one of the tech guy’s attempts to press buttons, jiggle a wire or two, and then just stare at the projector thingee. I guess the staring worked. The flickering stopped.

Watching the tech guy reminded me of the time I volunteered in the 5th/6th grade “children’s church” (not for the light-hearted, probably why I only made it one year), and the leader had a high school student work the overhead, where he was supposed to click through a PowerPoint slideshow or play selected videos. I would find myself getting annoyed when it seemed the kid wouldn’t be paying attention or maybe didn’t know what to click or whatever. I suppose the technical challenges in this scenario made the hour drag on even longer. I seriously thought about suggesting to the leader that I work the technical part of the hour. I mean, I do have a technical background. I do know how to program the VCR, oh I mean DVR after my boys taught me. And I do sit at a computer Monday through Friday, pounding away at the keys producing some sort of something.

But then I started realizing why this slideshow assignment may not be the best for a personality like mine.

I can trace it back to my kindergarten graduation. The class was on stage and we each had a part to speak. I don’t remember what exactly. It was kindergarten remember, please cut me some slack. Anyway, I felt obliged to gently nudge every single one of my classmates when it was their turn to speak. I’m not sure how loud/obvious I was, but I suppose I would whisper each of their names, saying something like, “It’s your turn, Mary!” What can I say? I’ve always been such a helper! Well, my time came, and guess what happened. There were chuckles from the parents and then the announcement from the teacher, “Karen, it’s your turn.” I was so focused on what everybody else should be doing and the next steps in the process that I totally missed my part.

But you were only 5 years old you say! Oh, but friends, the trend has continued. The church’s women’s Sunday school class, which I still attend occasionally, used to volunteer for this annual tea room function. One year I felt obligated the desire to sign up. I was tasked with taking drink orders. Tea or water, those were the choices. How could I screw this up, right? I was so distracted looking around me, watching the other ladies in the kitchen, looking at the prepared food, thinking long and hard about how if I was in charge of the menu, it would be much healthier fare, and lower sodium, and I would… Karen? Hmm? Oh what? Did you get the drink order for the group in the corner? Oh no. Scramble scramble. Who wanted what? Oh, you wanted the tea? How many waters?

I was then relinquished to dessert cart. How could Karen possibly screw up taking the little cart around, right? It wasn’t my fault. This cart didn’t have enough room to move freely, and at one point there were cords on the ground I had to sort of “speed bump” over. I couldn’t even get to at least a quarter of the tables. I thought about how if I was in charge, I would’ve ensured a smaller cart. And I would ensure there was at least one gluten free dessert choice. Yeah, so I wasn’t doing too well with the desserts either

I was then switched to “bread” duty. All I had to do was give each diner two breadsticks each. I believe I found my tea room calling at that point. Although I admit I had a little trouble remembering who already got bread, and who still needed some.

I’ve tried several more volunteer attempts, always with the same results. I’m pretty sure I’m just not cut out for “interactive” or “time-sensitive” volunteering. Now if someone ever needs a volunteer for editing, or some other non-face-to-face, I’m betting I can handle that. Maybe I’m more of a “take your time” kind of gal, who works best behind the scenes.

Kristine from Mum Revised has talked about her awesome experience working with Habitat for Humanity. Sure, I could volunteer, but I’m pretty sure it would have to be something like stuffing envelopes. I’m positive no one would assign me to hammer duty. I’d end up being too distracted with… whatever.

So long story short, I let the whole teen / overhead thing go.


17 thoughts on “A step behind”

    1. I noticed there’s no one breaking down my door to get me to stuff envelopes though. I hope to eventually find my volunteer calling.

  1. At least you’re volunteering. That counts for something. And someday you will find your calling.
    At a state park where I regularly volunteer I find I’m best suited for jobs like shoveling mulch. I have a similar problem with distractions. Hey, look! Turtles!

    1. Hmmm… maybe. For future I believe I’ll let volunteer seekers know my weaknesses, maybe to save everyone a little grief and also to find the right spot for me.

  2. Thanks for the shout out Karen. I will have water and the chocolate mousse.
    BTW: I would give you a hammer to avoid you using the power tools. You need your fingers for typing and you can only really wreck your non-dominant hand hammering. All good.

    1. Oh wait, who wanted the tea then?? Damnit. And I believe we’re all out of chocolate mousse. And thanks for having faith in me that I’d actually be able to handle a hammer. Pretty sure Gerald wouldn’t even leave that task up to me.

  3. Well, your problem as a kindergartener came from a good place. You were just trying to be helpful. Your later volunteering efforts may have been a bit unsuccessful too, but I’m impressed that you at least made the effort. I don’t have much of a track record as a volunteer.

    1. It’s usually me getting roped into volunteering. But I suppose the joke is on the person who asked after I find a way to fail at a fairly simple task.

  4. I like the part about telling everyone when it was their turn and what to do. I volunteer to be the supervisor. Where’s my tee shirt that says Volunteer BOS?

  5. I just flashed back to a memory from a few years ago when my son was still in daycare/preschool. The preschool had a holiday party for all the classes and it was my turn to “volunteer” to help. The organizer tasked me with face painting even though that is possibly the worst task I could have been given. I’m not being self-deprecating, I can’t draw or paint worth a shit. And or course the palette I had to work on was soft round cheeks. The kids were like, “I want Batman!”. If I remember correctly, I ended up painting balloons on most kids. Still, I feel sorry for the kids when they got home because I’m sure the parents were like, “WTF?” when they saw their precious angels so horribly decorated.

    1. That’s hilarious, Gina. Yeah, no one in their right mind would task me with anything artistic. The kids would probably end up with phallic looking pics on their faces, and an investigation would ensue, just because I can’t draw worth a shit.

  6. Well, you know, work it until you know what works, right?

    At our church, we were put in charge of “children’s church,” what the kinds did while the adults were in service, for no better reason than we had kids that age, so surely, we wanted to spend our time with gobs of them.

    We focused on keeping them from sticking their fingers in sockets. When things got really out of hand, we encouraged calisthenics. I think parents started getting worried when they kept hearing about “push ups for Jesus,” and we were able to get out of that particular duty shortly afterward.

    1. Our church has a very well run “children’s church,” where all the material/schedule/etc is planned way in advance. There are paid staff and volunteers and it runs smoothly. So I don’t know if there’s a need for push ups for Jesus, but I’m thinking they need to throw that in there somewhere. Maybe at least jumping jacks for Jesus. I’m all for the calisthenics idea! 🙂

  7. Oh, my gosh, you sound exactly like me! Hilarious! Being a waitress in my 20’s helped me learn to just accept my flaws as part of my charm, stop self-deprecating, and learn to just let it be. I was a horrible waitress, but by the time a table left, they loved me (I don’t know, like people love Lucy?) and I had gotten a work out with all the running back and forth. A sense of humor helps, doesn’t it?! I look forward to following your blog!

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