Aside from low pay, the downside of working for a relatively small nonprofit organization is that occasionally you get stuck with a job you don’t want. An example of this is kitchen duty. Kitchen duty should be no big deal. You run and empty the dishwasher, maybe clean up a few stray crumbs on the table, and take home and wash the towels (nobody does this ever). In reality, kitchen duty makes you realize you work with people who were raised by wolves. You end up dealing with crusty and/or slimy dishes left in the sink, fossilized lipstick on coffee cups, boxes of crumbs left behind by the people who took the last donut but didn’t have the heart to dispose of the empty boxes, people who (bless their hearts) try to recycle salad and napkins, and aborted moonshine-making projects in the refrigerator.
That said, kitchen duty is 1,000 times more pleasant than the other job I don’t want, which goes something like this.
I’m staff liaison for a committee, the members of which have an average age of 102. Once a year, I summon them from the surrounding countryside so we may enjoy lunch at 10 a.m. (just kidding, I’m firmly opposed to eating lunch at old people o’clock) and bestow honors on various people living (and probably old) and dead.
I always hate everything about doing this.
This year, someone was nominated for something by someone who really, really, really wants said person to get the something for which he was nominated. A letter-writing campaign resulted and I received no less than 872 phone calls promising future written correspondence, emails containing letters as pdf attachments, lengthy emails, one-sentence emails, one-sentence emails with relevant names misspelled, letters sent via U.S. mail, faxes, telegrams, smoke signals, messages written with lipstick on the bathroom mirror, singing telegrams performed by underdressed monkeys, and song dedications delivered by Casey Kasem. This would be no big deal but for the fact that in theory I should keep track of these missives and organize the information in an easy-to-digest format for 102-year-olds while expending as little effort as possible. Oh and there’s also the fact that the person nominated is the only person nominated and even without the vast outpouring of support would in fact obtain the thing for which he was nominated.
Then there are the people who don’t understand how to RSVP. I’ve received one response from someone clearly stating that he will be at the meeting. The rest have all been like this:
- I’ll try to be there.
- I’ll try to be there if there’s room. (Note: The meeting is not being held in a closet or teeny tiny room.)
- I’ll be there if I can blow off the other thing I have scheduled for the same time.
- I’ll be there unless something better comes up, which, let’s be honest, it probably will.
- I think I’ll probably be there, maybe. Later: I’m not coming. Later: Okay, I’ll be there after all. I bet you can’t wait!
- I like pie.
- …. (That’s the person who doesn’t respond at all but shows up anyway.)
I mean, is it that hard to commit to either attending the meeting or not attending the meeting? I’d rather you just not respond at all. Seriously, how much food do I order for myself, one dude, and 89 people who will maybe kinda try to be there? (Answer: A lot. Pizza is what gets us through these ordeals.) And we can’t blame this behavior on kids these days, because these people are all, well, older than I am.
Then there are the people who don’t understand email and their ornery friend email attachments. I sent an email that can be summarized as follows:
- 3 sentences of text, one of which states “The call-in information is on the agenda”
- several clearly labeled attachments, one of which is the agenda.
Without fail, I receive an email like this:
Hi. Could you please send me the call-in information?
One of the attachments is titled “Tabby Nominees.” I receive an email like this:
Are there any tabby nominees? Would you please tell me who the they are?
This or something like it happens 600 times a day during the week before the meeting, while I have, like, other actual work I have to get done. The good news is it’s almost over and I won’t have to think much about it until next year. Oh, and pizza.
I didn’t make anything today but I did a bunch of volunteer work and I think that counts because . . . I’m making the world a better place by doing volunteer work. Okay no, I’m kidding and that’s gross, but I am counting it. It was fun and involved walking around the neighborhood with Ben, Soren, and Peaches and assessing the health of baby trees that were planted this spring. Soren is getting good at this. After we got home, I asked him if he was going to help me look at more trees tomorrow. He said “Yeah!!” and ran to the back door, opened it, and pointed to the tree in the back yard. “There’s one!”