A friend showed me a pen she received as a gift – it said, “Stop me before I volunteer again.”
“It’s a reminder,” she explained but its ineffectiveness was obvious as we realized, this was the second parent association we’re on together as volunteers.
As I handed back the pen, I sighed and already it sounded like a threat of resignation. But really, who am I kidding? We’re volunteeraholics. She probably signed up with that damned pen.
Every pandemic volunteer knows what I’m talking about. We call ourselves suckers, targets, 3D losers and we compare our tasks like they’re death sentences.
After serving my time on one thing, I say it’ll be the last and even tell my husband that I’ll take his advice and stop signing up for shit. But the truth is, volunteer work never ends. If it does, it ends badly because slaves don’t get fired.
Yes, I just compared volunteer work to slavery. If you think about it, there’s only one difference – gratification. No reasonable person would volunteer unless they enjoyed the work. They sign up year after year because it’s gratifying and good for the soul. Those are the volunteer gigs where you’re surrounded by like-minded, hard-working, good-willed people and they really are a life experience. Every once in while though, you’ll come across a douchebag who is a slave master and that can fuck with your head.
If that happens, you have to tell yourself that the only jackass who should be tolerated is one that signs your paycheck. Otherwise, walk. You need the aggravation like you need hemorrhoids. I have a friend who sorely needs to take this advice – not the friend with the pen – someone else who stayed on even after everybody left.
Now she’ll have to learn the same lesson I learned the hard way – don’t fill a void. If an organization needs you to fill an important role, the last thing you should do is stick around to find out why because I can tell you why. That role is vacant because the last person was a mistreated mule that most likely died under a pile of bullshit.
But for the rest, I toast my fellow volunteeraholics. You may not always be recognized or appreciated for that matter, but you’ve made a difference, a contribution that is far more valuable than money.
So – Thank You. Thank you, very much.