Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Super-Volunteer

One of the problems of living in a small remote town is the volunteer vortex. If there is a problem, volunteers have to fix it. If the problem concerns you, than you really ought to be one of the volunteers. If you become one of the volunteers, you get sucked in to spending more and more time on it. If you spend more and more time on it, you feel a sense of entitlement - that is, you are entitled to lord it over all the other townies who do not volunteer, or who do not volunteer enough. If you are the Super-Volunteer, you have reached the summit of small town heroism.

There is the problem of the school, which is that the school always has a lot of problems. They need to raise money. They need teacher's helpers. They need people to paint over the graffiti on the walls. They need coaches. They need people to mow the fields. They need people to pick up trash. They need donations of every kind. They need bakers for bake sales and sellers for bake sales. They need drivers. They need and need and need.

Then there is the problem of the public areas. Picking up trash, weeding the sandboxes, mending the fences, paving the walkways, trimming the trees, watering the plants, the public areas are always a mess.

Depending on the locale, there may be a water problem, an industry problem, a post office junk mail recycling problem, a volunteer fire department problem, a search and rescue problem, a water body pollution problem, an off-leash dog problem, not to mention the various annual community events - 4th of July parades, Easter Egg hunts - that all require volunteers, and usually the same Super-Volunteers year after year. Everything requires volunteers. It is truly astounding that anything ever gets done.

Without the Super-Volunteers, we would have nothing. The Super-Volunteer has lots of experience, she has done everything before. She has, in fact, been doing everything for years. Everyone knows that if they have a question, the Super-Volunteer will have the answer. She is allowed to call everyone by some endearment - honey, sugar, jack - in case she forgets their names, and why shouldn't she? Other volunteers will come and go; most burnout by the second time around. The Super-Volunteer sticks it out.

The Super-Volunteer keeps track of everything she has done, and makes sure that everybody else is made aware of it. The hours are logged. The knotches are cut. The certificates are posted. The blue or gold medals of distinction are bestowed. The Super-Volunteer walks down Main Street with a glowing aura all around her. All bow down before the Super-Volunteer. She has made her town the whatever kind of town it is today.

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