Monday, December 21, 2009

Hide it under a bush? NO!

So I'm driving eastbound on 3300 S headed towards my house (a phrase that I never thought would escape my lips) and I'm keeping a lookout for a cemetary on the right hand side of the street. Since I'm still not very used to driving in my new area, I use the cemetary on the right as a landmark to tell me when the street I need to turn down is coming up. It was dark and so I wondered if I'd be able to see it.

And then I saw it.

In the distance there were thousands of dim lights glowing across the huge expanse of the lawn. As I drove closer I realized that the lights were luminaries; one for each grave and then others to line the paths around the cemetary.

I had been in the left lane anticipating the turn into my neighborhood, but instead I made a quick (and somewhat dangerous... sorry blue car) lane change to made an immediate right into the cemetary grounds.

I then spent the next twenty minutes following a parade of cars who had almost all (and I curse the ones that didn't) turned their headlights off and were driving around to see the lights. I turned my radio off (I don't know why, but it seemed appropriate) and just looked around.

Several thoughts went through my head as I drove around. First of all, I don't think I'll ever really comprehend how MANY people there are in this world. Just in that teeny tiny bit of earth, there were thousands and thousands and THOUSANDS of lights each commemorating someone's life. Just in one cemetary, in one city, in one state, in one nation. I'm a visual learner, so it struck me to see so many lights.

And then naturally, being in the volunteer business, I thought, How in the world did they get all of these lit?! It must have taken them HOURS to make this happen! Because every single one was an actual burning candle. To place AND light each of those must have been a huge undertaking... one that I want to volunteer to help do next year.

The last thought I had was about how much influence one person's life can have. To their neighbors, to their family and friends, to strangers, to the world. I was touched that every single grave had a light. Not one of them was too out of the way or too small or too inconveniently placed to NOT have a luminary near it. Each life was worth remembering. It reminded me that each life IS worth remembering... living or dead, complicated or simple, good or bad.

And then as I drove out of the cemetary and turned my radio on I thought, Man... for someone not known for sentimentality, I can sure get sappy sometimes.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Happy 100th Post.

...and, in celebration, I have a gift for you.

At my place of employment there's a program where we distribute a box of food once a month to over two thousand low-income seniors around the Salt Lake valley. These boxes are plain brown and fairly boring, which is why we allow volunteers to take these boxes home, decorate them, and return them to us so we can eventually fill them with food. The common themes of decorations on the box usually follow the season of the year or consist of generally cheerful things: smiles, rainbows, butterflies, sunshine.

But every now and then, we get a box that breaks the mold:


Is this not the coolest thing you've ever seen?! I was having a pretty rough morning at work when I found this little number, and boy howdy did it turn my day around.

Here's some other pictures of things I kept meaning to post, but my internet connection made rather impossible to do so:
I went to Zion and Bryce National Parks over the Labor Day weekend. I was once again convinced that we live in the most beautiful state in the nation.



I went with my pal Robin to the fair shortly thereafter. We successfully found the booth of all things deep-fried. I enjoyed a brownie, while Robin tried her hand at the oreos. Next year I'm going to try the cheesecake.




On Thanksgiving morning I ran the Utah Human Race 5K. It was all kinds of cold outside and I didn't beat my time, but I really enjoyed seeing the thousands of people there together for a good cause. I'll continue to run it each year as long as I'm able.


And, I've recently fallen in love with this little guy:

It's my new roommate's nephew. He comes to visit sometimes and when he does I'm glad.


Work is slowing down and stress is slowly ebbing from my mind, so I hope to post more often in the future. Thanks for hangin' in there with me.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Worn.

Work is absolutely wearing me out. (It looks to get better from here though, so stay tuned for my usual chipper self to return any time now.) Having absolutely run out of groceries this week, I was forced to drag myself into a grocery store on the way home from work one day and pick up a few things.

As I was checking out and about to leave the store, I encountered a two-year old girl who was waiting for her father to finish checking out and had wandered out into my path. I stopped in my tracks and waited for her to decide which way she was going to go.

She didn't go anywhere. She looked up at me with an absolute look of exhaustion, gave a gentle sigh, and carefully laid herself on the ground, tucking one arm under her head and curling up a bit.

I looked down at her and smiled, and said to no one in particular, "I hear ya, sister." It took every ounce of strength I had not to join her there on the floor.

By the way, I'm moving to Sugarhouse in a couple of weeks. (Yes, I just moved. And I'm moving again. Wanna make something of it?) The good news is that my internet connection might improve, meaning you might start seeing actual pictures of the stuff I'm doing. Yay.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Scooters?

At the bottom of this screen as I type, it gives me the option to "label" my post with a specific word for organizing purposes. It then says: "e.g. scooters, vacation, fall".

Vacation, sure. Fall? Eh, it's a stretch... I guess if you want your postings listed seasonally too. But scooters? Do people really write multiple postings about scooters? Besides you, Jason Bell.

That's not what this was originally intended to be about. Moving on.

My father is in the hotel business and has been so most of his adult life. And, as his offspring, I was instilled with a natural knack for customer service and courtesy. This skill has come in handy many more times in my life than I can count. It's been a part of ME during MY adult years as long as I can remember. It's something I didn't ever think would go away.

Tonight I'm here to tell you... it's going away.

My job has been extraordinarily busy recently due to some staff changes in my realm. In short, the amount of work that three people usually do full-time for forty hours a week has been shifted to only two people until the other position can be filled.

So as to try and make things as simple as possible, my coworker and I have decided that the majority of my days will be spent doing face-to-face customer service at the volunteer desk, and she will be the one to field all phone calls about volunteering (which have increased dramatically over recent weeks due to the holidays approaching.)

I originally thought that my coworker had gotten the rough end of the deal, because she gets to spend her days saying no to all the people who have waited until the last minute to schedule their groups because our schedule is already full. All I had to do was be nice to people as they came in and get them started on a project. Easy enough.

Yeah. Easy as herding cats. Which I'm used to doing, but for 4 hours a day, not 8. And I'm reaching a breaking point.

A story to illustrate...

Yesterday, a woman came in with her two daughters. She had scheduled in advance, which was great. They immediately started on what I asked them to do, which was wonderful. But after their two hours were up and they came to sign out, that's when our good relationship ended.

Lady: Hi! Would you mind filling this service card out for my daughter? (handing me a small card)
Me: Sure. (I take the card, fill out all the spaces that it asked me for information, and return it.) There you go. Thanks for your help today.
Lady: Great. Oh, would you mind putting the date somewhere?
Me: Uh, sure. There's no line for it, just...
Lady: Yeah. Somewhere. Wherever.
Me: (writing it in the margin and handing it back) There you go. Thanks for your...
Lady: Oh, and print your name somewhere too. Sometimes they can't read the signature.
Me: ...Okay. (I find another space in the margin and hand it back.) Thanks...
Lady: Can you maybe put a telephone number on there somewhere too? I'm sorry, they really need this information on there.
Me: (taking the card back yet again and starting to get impatient, because there were now three additional people peering over the volunteer desk waiting for my attention) You'd think that if it were so critical that they would have added lines and spaces for this information to begin with.
Lady: (her smile fades a bit) Yeah, I don't know why...
Me: Maybe that's some constructive criticism you can give them when you hand the card in.
Lady: (laughs politely like I was making a joke) Thank you. And, do you have a validation form she can have too?
Me: (staring at her, hoping she's now making a joke) Wait... is the card I filled out not proof enough that she was here?
Lady: Well, I think it's wise to have both just in case.
Me: (trying to stifle my withering sigh and quickly filling one out, leaving the name of the girl blank because I didn't know her name and assumed she could write it in) Okay. Here you go. (peering over her shoulder at the next person in line) How can I...
Lady: Wait. Her name isn't on here. Can you write her name?
Me: (finally losing it) Is there a reason that SHE can't write her name? (This was only half of what I wanted to say. The other half was "Because I'm pretty sure evolution has treated her just as well as it's treated me and she has opposable thumbs just like I do.")
Lady: Oh. Yes, I guess she can. Okay. Thanks.

Lucky for her they left before my filter completely failed me.

So, if sometime soon in your blog stalking you stumble upon the blog of a girl who is writing about how she now has the work of THREE people to do because a SECOND co-worker just got fired, you'll know that my days of courtesy had run their course. I'll be sure to blog about exactly how it went down if that does happen, though. I'm sure it'll be a good story.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

a little plug... then a little rambling

First, here's a link to my co-worker's recent bloggy-ode to the strange things we pull out of our food totes as they're being sorted. As you can see, it doesn't take much to amuse us:

Food Drive Item of the Day

Secondly, I've been thinking about pain thresholds. And how mine seems to be a bit higher than some other peoples. Or maybe I just don't get myself into as painful as predicaments as others.

Or maybe you're all just wimps.

And how there are people all around me who have a pretty rough go at life, where the trials they're still enduring are a result of decisions they made years and years ago when they were teenagers and didn't have their heads on straight.

I was a teenager once. I went a good while without my head on straight. But how did I avoid becoming addicted to something or making a really bad choice with long-lasting consequences? How did I just end up reading R.L. Stine books and writing depressing poetry instead?

Luck? Meant for something greater? Spending too much time around really down-and-out people? You decide.

I'm working like a mad woman these days, so I apologize for the lack of postings. I also apologize for the lack of pictures, but my internet connection leaves much to want these days.

But thanks for still checking in on me every now and then.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The bad color.

There's a sign on the door that leads from the volunteer sort room of this place to the back offices.

It also happens to lead to the nearest restroom for volunteers.

There's a sign on the door. It says:
"Authorized personnel only. Volunteers must be accompanied by staff beyond this point."

The words are black on a bright red background.

As long as I have worked here, the sign has been on that door. And as long as I've worked here, we've NEVER accompanied ANYONE back there. I don't know who put it there, and I don't know what incident motivated its creation.

But I do know it works.

We tell volunteers as we're orienting them that they're welcome to go through that door and use the facilities as they need, but to be quiet because there's a call center just beyond the bathrooms. But even after the permission is clearly given, people are terrified to go through that door.

It fascinates me. At least once a day the following interaction will happen:

Volunteer: Excuse me, where did you say the restrooms are?

Me: (Pointing at the door) Through that door on the left hand side.

Volunteer: (Looks at red sign, then back at me) This door?

Me: (Pointing even more directly) Yep. Go on through. They're on the left.

Volunteer: (Looks down at the handle, then back up at the sign, then back at me. Then they'll notice the door right next to it that is clearly labeled "Supply closet". They approach THAT door.) This one here?

Me: (Standing up from my desk and pointing my finger within 3 inches of the correct door) No, THIS one.

Volunteer: Oh. Okay. (They hesitantly put their hand out to the door handle like they're afraid it's going to shock them. After they open the door a few inches a look of guilt crosses their face and they glance back at me. I give them a reassuring smile and nod encouragingly. They take a deep breath and push the door open.)

Okay, there might be slight exaggeration here. But not much. I can't tell you how many times I have to stop someone from peeing on our tapeguns in the supply closet. And, I can't tell you how many OTHER posted rules people blatantly ignore. Don't take food? Nah! They have plenty, they'll live without this item. Don't use the pallet jacks as skateboards? Meh! That's just for people without the balance to do it safely.

But none of those rules are posted in red.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Aaron

Earlier this week a man came in with his son who appeared to be about 16 years old. The kid was wearing black jeans, a black t-shirt, and a winter hat pulled over his dark, emo-style haircut. He had some giant earphones around his neck, and he was looking at the ground.

The man said, "I'm Bob, and this is Aaron. We'd like to volunteer for awhile."

I talked to Bob about the volunteer options, and Aaron never once made eye contact with me. Everything about his body language looked defeated and told me he didn't want to be there. Bob told me that it was his hope that Aaron could come to volunteer a few times a week for a few hours each time. He gave no explanation as to why Aaron was not in school on a Tuesday at 11:30am, but I could deduce a few reasons.

I sent Bob and Aaron toward a project in the back, sighing inwardly about what a joy it was going to be to have Aaron come volunteer regularly. There's nothing worse than someone volunteering against their will.

Well, maybe a few things are worse. Like Polio.

By today I had completely forgotten about Aaron, until I was returning to the volunteer desk after running an errand and found him standing in front of the desk. At first he blended in with the other youth who were standing around waiting for their project to start, but I noticed his sullen posture and recognized him immediately. This time he was without his dad.

I told him to wait a moment while I got the other youth started on their project, and then came back to attend to him. He still wasn't making eye contact with me, but spoke: "I'm not with these guys, I'm just here by myself to volunteer."

"Yeah, I remember you. Aaron, right?"

At the mention of his name Aaron's eyes immediately met mine. He stood up a bit straighter as his arms unfolded and his countenance changed from being closed and distant to open and approachable. The corners of his mouth turned upward ever so slightly. That hint of a smile only lasted a brief moment, before his mouth opened.

And then I couldn't get it to shut.

"Yeah, I used to go by Z or Zed. And then there was this other time that I had another nickname, and I don't remember the name but it meant 'end of man'. My friends gave me that nickname because it's, like, totally contrary to my personality. That's why I had a nickname because I didn't like the name Aaron, because I thought it was too preppy. Don't you think Aaron is kind of a preppy name?"

"Uh..."

"I mean, sometimes I dress preppy but it's because I think the clothes are comfortable, not because I'm a preppy. I'm like the opposite of a preppy, because my room is dirty all the time. There was this one time I had found this white gold ring somewhere and took it back to my house, and then lost it somewhere under all my stuff in my room. For awhile I thought my friend took it when he was over playing the Wii with me, and I was like, 'Dude, he has no right to take my ring, I found it fair and square.' But then later I was cleaning my room and I found it."

He paused for a breath, long enough for me to say, "Really, that's good. Well..."

"It's my folks that are making me come here. Well, not my real folks, my foster ones. My foster dad is making me choose between either staying with them or going back with my real folks. But I'm like, how am I supposed to make that decision? Both sets of parents drive me crazy. It's not like I really like having parents at all, you know? They're all worried about me and stuff, but I'm like, whatever, I can just do things on my own..."

It was at this point that I think my mind (as a subconscious defense mechanism) stopped actually listening and I started to search the perimeter of the room frantically looking for the project manager to come back, all while giving the occasional head nod and "uh huh" to try and still validate Aaron's talking in the meantime. He either was severely starved for a listening ear, or VERY bad at taking social cues, and I felt bad for him in either case. Thankfully Kelly (my trusty project manager and right-hand man in the volunteer room) came around the corner and headed to the volunteer desk. The closer he got to the desk the more he could hear what Aaron was talking about, and the more his eyes widened.

Just as Aaron was getting into some darker details of his biological family history I finally said, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but we have a project ready for you now. Just follow Kelly and he'll show you where to go. Talk to you later..."

Aaron didn't seem to be phased much by the abrupt end in our conversation, and happily went on his way to his project. Incidentally, he was taken to join a group that was comprised of youth from a residential treatment facility. Hopefully he found a more attentive ear than mine, maybe even one who could better commiserate with his woes.

The thing that I'll remember from the conversation (presentation?) is how validating it can be for someone to remember your name.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's the thought that counts.

We received this in the mail the other day:


What's a mandala, you ask?


"What's that you say? You'd like some food? Well, take a moment to look into this mandala... it will help you concentrate on something other than your hunger."

And forget budgeting money for more media campaigns. Just slap a picture of this thing right next to the picture of a hungry person, and the awareness will just start flowing. People will be skipping towards the street vendors and buying tacos and hot dogs and handing them to the homeless wandering the streets.

I believe in the power of the mandala. You should too.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rough day.

A man doing his court-ordered community service came in today pushing a shopping cart.

No, that's not typical.

There was a backpack and something electronic in it. He asked me if I could keep an eye on it. I told him he could park it next to the wall, but that I couldn't guarantee its safety. He said that was fine, and rounded the corner to the break room to eat his lunch before clocking in.

Not four minutes passed before he came back out to use the public phone at the volunteer desk. Here was the end of the conversation I heard:

"Hey... no... I was doing my hours... It wasn't me, I was here doing my hours... well what am I supposed to do?... No... Well, I didn't get a signature for some of the time so they won't... I didn't do anything... I don't know what you want me to do about it..."

While he was still on the phone, two men came around to the OTHER side of the desk, one wearing a polo indicating he was a parole officer. They began talking in hushed tones to each other and gesturing at the man on the phone.

"Is that him?"
"I think that's him."
"I barely recognize him with the hat he's wearing."
"Yeah, that's him."

Then the two parole officer men smile at me, and ask (still in hushed tones) if they can see the timesheet for the hours that the shopping cart guy on the phone has completed.

In the meantime shopping cart guy is still on the phone, oblivious to the presence of the other two men. His voice is starting to get louder:

"No!... I didn't have anything to do... I was here!... Well I'm sure they keep records... No... Well, I don't know what you want me to do about it! I'm..."

The parole officer guys finish writing down the information they need, thank me, and quickly sneak away. Moments later guy on phone slams it back on the receiver and says to me, "I've gotta go."

"Okay. Uhm, don't forget your cart."

"Oh. Right. Thanks." And away he rolled.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Some things you have to read first-hand.

I have nothing to say today that could top this.

The funniest part about this is that for years she's been trying to convince me that since she lived on 700 west that it made her a west sider. I've been telling her that she had to live at least west of Redwood Road to be a true west sider.

So she recently moved to almost 5600 W in her sister's house, and within a month of living there, this is what happens.

So read it. If you're not her friend already, it'll make you wish you were.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ah, youth.

Conversation overheard in a dressing room at Ross... two girls, both sounding about eleven or twelve years old:

Girl A: So I don't know what to do. She's, like, my best friend.

Girl B: She's acting dumb. So you just shouldn't hang out with her anymore.

A: I can't just not hang out with her. We've been best friends for, like, ever. I've known her for like two years.

B: But she's just, whatever. Hey, does this dress, like, make my legs look chickeny?

A: No, you just have skinny legs. They're not chickeny.

B: Well chickens have skinny legs, stupid. (They both laugh hysterically at this point.)

B: Hey, have you ever heard of a movie called "the Newsies"?

A: No.

B: Well I've never seen it, but it's supposed to be amazing. But it's not new or anything. It's like a really old movie.

(At this point I'm pretty sure I snorted out loud, but thankfully they didn't hear me.)

A: Oh. The Newsies? Like, newspapers?

B: I don't know what it's about. But someone told me that it's like a really good movie.

A: Do you think it's in the redbox somewhere?

B: No, they don't have old movies in the redbox, stupid. Just new ones that have come out, like, recently.

A: Nuh uh, I went to one just a few days ago and they had old movies in there!

B: Whatever.

At this point in the conversation I was finished trying on my shirt, and I left with a half smile on my face. I was torn between my amusement at the conversation and my concern for Girl A's self esteem if she continued to hang out with Girl B. Whoever the best friend was, surely she couldn't have treated her any worse than that.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I probably saw something shiny.

Lately I've decided that I arrived on earth about 100 years later than I should have.

On Sunday I got to my parents house to find my mom was watching a documentary on the history of hillbillies. The program talked about how they were kind of the cast-outs from Scotland or something, then eventually moved to Ireland where they weren't treated well, and they made their way to America where they settled in the Appalachians and worked in the mines and stuff in the 1800's. They were hard workers, had no care for social propriety, and lived and spoke as they pleased.

All of a sudden in the middle of a segment about how hillbillies were the first ones to race cars around a track, my mother turns to me and says, "See what a proud heritage you have?"

"Huh?"

"Those are your people. That's where the Greers are originally from... the Kentucky and Tennessee area. These are the people that you come from."

At first I rolled my eyes in the certainty that the hundreds of years that passed between their lives and mine had filtered any amount of hillbilly-ness out of who I am. Besides, I despise anything to do with NASCAR and... um... moonshine.

But then I thought more. I thought about my at-times-tactless ways ("honesty", I call it). And my aversion to formality ("down-to-earth", that's me). And my tendency to want to do things my own way ("independence" is all that really is).

And my ever-so-slight overbite. (...)

And then I had to accept it. Whether or not I cared to admit it, there's hillbilly blood coursing through these veins.

But then I thought about the things I've come to value. Hard work, determination, sacrifice, independence, looking out for other people... those are hillbilly traits as well to some degree. And they all seem to be the things that most of the world doesn't give a flying flip about these days.

So that's when I came to this conclusion: I was meant to be born in 1881, not 1981.

What probably happened is while I was waiting in line for my turn to be born to some coal-mining Greer family in Kentucky, I got distracted, wandered off to talk to someone, and lost my place in line to be a Greer (which, I'm certain, is quite a lengthy one).

Which is a shame, because I would have been quite the catch to a coal-miner. What's that honey? Gonna be gone for 7 months up in the hills? Oh, and you want our log cabin to be finished before you get back? Warm meal waiting for you upon return? No resources but the land around us, an axe, and a shotgun?

...Bring it on.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A public service announcement.

Dear reader,

If ever called to a service assignment, please do not bring more people than was requested of you.

YOUR specific assignment may only consist of 5 or so people, which seems a pitiful number especially if the task is something like, oh, I don't know, fighting hunger statewide. Surely five people will not be enough to tackle the task. You better bring your entire youth group of 20.

Little do you know that all of the other 7 groups assigned to bring only 5 people also had the same idea.

And now a staff of three people is responsible for maintaining 90 volunteers instead of the 35 that they were expecting. And your good intentions have turned into a nightmare for those facilitating your project.

It is safe to assume that those requesting your help requested it in specific numbers for a reason. They in the know, as a general rule, know more than you.

That is all. Carry on with your day.

- Your local friendly Volunteer Coordinator

(This may or may not have been based on a true story.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

A familiar face.

The autistic peanut-butter kid came back today with his summer camp group. He bounded into the sort room and said "We're back!" triumphantly. He's about 7 years old.

About half way through his shift he came to the desk and giggled and said "I forgot where the bathrooms are," like it was the funniest joke he'd heard in years. I love him.

Another kid in his group had been reading a sign on our wall and came to me with this question:

"How does one dollar become nine dollars here?"

"Well, thanks to gracious volunteers like you and the generosity of people's food donations we are able to be extremely resourceful with the money that comes in. Does that make sense?"

"Uhm... not really."

"Nice people like you help us stretch our money."

"Oh. Okay."

I've been accused of being too wordy on many occasions. This confirmed it once again.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bad week = good run.

Some observations I had while going on a jog/walk around Midvale Middle School this evening:

  • If I hadn't eaten dinner only an hour before leaving, it would have been more of a jog and less of a walk.
  • I'm going to have to find a new place to run on Thursday nights. It's apparently little-league football season, which means my running route was lined with trucks and SUVs with NFL team logo stickers plastered on the rear windows. Most of them with team moms and dads waiting with the car running for their child to finish practice, and eying me suspiciously as I was jogging a little too close to their cars for their comfort. Next time maybe I'll just put a helmet and shoulder pads on, and they'll just think I'm one of their players being punished for mouthing off. Just as long as they don't throw a football at me, because my complete inability to catch one smoothly would tip them off.
  • Midvale, in addition to being known for having more Arctic Circles per square mile than any other place on earth, is apparently a natural breeding habitat for some kind of little quail. Mom and dad quails that run around with little quail babies, and teenage quails that pester each other are all over this place. I'm pretty sure I ran (jog/walked) past the quail-equivalent of a game of tag tonight.
  • As I watched little kids running around the neighborhood with no sign of any kind of adult around to watch them, I worried for their safety in our borderline-shady neighborhood. And then I wondered if people thought the same of me growing up as I ran around the streets of Rose Park by myself and darted across Redwood Road regularly to play on the Jordan River Parkway.
  • A young man was walking a bassett hound down the street. I didn't think that anyone could have less energy and spunk than their pet bassett hound, but this young man managed it. I wondered if he was yet another victim of World of Warcraft or other video games that cause people to go weeks without seeing the light of day.
  • Sometimes, if you decide to go just one more lap, you're rewarded with a brilliant sunset.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Turns out life isn't fair.

Do you ever wish you could go through the people you encounter in your life and pick an all-star team of them to carry you through your day-to-day tasks?

I had to say goodbye to one of my all-stars today.

It's a man who will remain nameless just in case he'd want it that way. He was assigned to work at our warehouse by the Dept. of Workforce Services, from whom he received a certain amount of money for the 32 hours a week he volunteers with us. When he first came to us it was obvious that he was homeless and struggling. In fact, I had one person in the warehouse comment on his smell, and ask if I could get rid of him based on the fact that it was unpleasant for other volunteers to work around him. I refused, certain that once he got some resources under his belt that he would naturally take better care of himself. Until then, people could just deal.

And I was right. Over the next several weeks his appearance began to become less and less unkempt. As he got to know the functions of the warehouse and the different tasks that needed to be done he would do them without having to be asked, and he would do them carefully and quickly. His demeanor became less beaten-down and more jovial as he gained confidence in his abilities and his knowledge. Eventually we would send new volunteers to him to be trained, and he would do so with the patience of a saint. He was known for his kindness and his reliability, and he was always, always looking out for me. Making sure I had everything I needed to do my job well, asking if I needed his help with whatever I was doing. On the days when I was evidently frazzled, he'd ask how I was and if he could do anything to help out.

Even when I'd mess up on his time sheet which meant it would be a couple more days before he'd get his money, he would approach me gently with the problem and ask if I could resolve the issue when I had a moment. I wish I could explain to you how refreshing that was, because a lot of other people are a lot LESS nice when they don't get paid on time.

And as it turns out, cuts in government funding meant that his benefits program ended this month. As far as I know it's his only source of income. I don't know what he's going to do from here, because from what I understand there's no other program to catch these individuals. So today was his last day of work, and I had to leave him with my contact information, a promise of an outstanding reference or letter if he ever needed one, a silent prayer that he'd be okay, and a hug.

I'm upset that someone with such a wonderful work ethic and respect for others has to live in the Road Home, while there's a couple of people at my workplace who get regular paychecks and regularly make my job a lot harder than it needs to be due to their lack of follow through. People who would definitely NOT make the all-star team.

Maybe it would make me feel better to just cryptically tell the less-effective ones that tomorrow. "You SO wouldn't make the cut."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

*sigh*

A man came in today asking if he could volunteer in exchange for some food.

As is policy, I told him that no one takes food from our facility, and that he would have to seek out his nearest community pantry. I gave him a brochure with all of the pantries in the county.

"But none of them are open today."

I pointed to a couple of them that ARE open on Saturdays.

At which point he uttered some curses under his breath and called me ridiculous and left.

Then I glanced at the baggy of homemmade chocolate chip cookies I had brought for my coworkers and wondered if I should have offered him one.

**********

Do you have a hierarchy of interest when it comes to surfing the web?

On reeeeeally slow days I've discovered this is mine:

My email. Then Facebook. Then Google Reader. Then KSL for local news. Then CNN for national news.

And then... back to KSL to look at the kittens in the classifieds.

...Seriously.

Please be gentle with your mockery.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Catching up on weeks of moments.

Interaction with Stella, 60-ish yrs old, from South Africa, regular volunteer at the food bank:

"Oh Haley, you cannot believe what happened yesterday."

"I can't? What happened, Stella?"

"Yesterday I made myself so that I should have looked like a spookie!"

"A...spookie?"

"Yes, I was with my daughter and I decided I would make an Asian food, and the spices, I don't know if the spices and my body, but I was itching all over the place!"

"Oh no, that's no good."

"Yes, and so I put the white soda and I put it all over my body. And I said, 'Lord in Heaven, if anyone comes in at this time they will be so afraid of me!"

"I can imagine!"

"Yes, I was like a ghost in the day! Heeheeehee..."

...and away she went to continue sorting food.

*******

A boy with Autism came to me with a jar of organic peanut butter in his hands.

His comment: "This looks over-rated to me."

He meant expired. But I wanted to hug him.

*******

Found in the food-drive tote: Chocolate Body Frosting.

Directions:
1. Light candles.
2. Open jar.
3. Offer paint brush.
4. Announce softly: "Dessert's on me."

Discovered by a group of scouts.

*******

Question about doing court-ordered hours at the food bank:

"Can two people's hours count toward the same offense? Can we, like, split it up?"

In case you wondered, the answer is no.

*******

Gregory is a regular volunteer at the food bank. He is near 60 years old, and is assigned to us through the Easter Seals program, which gives seniors a small amount of money for the service hours they provide. He is missing most of his teeth, and just recently found somewhere to live after having been homeless for several months. But I've always been impressed with how sharp he is.

Today I found out that he has a PhD in Philosophy and is a European-trained Master Chef. The only one in Utah, in fact. I didn't believe him at first, but the more detail he gave the more I knew he wasn't making it up. So I asked him how he came to his current status.

His answer: "My ex-wife raped me in the divorce. Never get married."

You're not lost.

It's just me changin' things up a bit.

I've decided that most posts from here on out will be descriptions of little things throughout my regular day that make me giggle, make me sad, or make me think. Hopefully you'll find my life as amusing as I do. If not, we'll reevaluate.

And since I spent most of tonight playing with my new header, I'll actually start posting another day. Till then.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Reconstruction...

Sorry to leave you hangin' guys. I'm in the process of formulating a new theme for my blog. I'm thinking a theme might help me blog more regularly and give me purpose. This current fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants isn't working for me it seems. And, the wireless internet in my new residence in Midvale leaves much to desire in the speed category, which is why I'm mostly pictureless these days.

So I'll get back to you when I have more direction. In the meantime, thanks for still lookin' in. As a reward, take a gander at the largest can of tuna fish you'll ever see:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fear Factor

Jason's always good for some blog inspiration.

His recent post cited the book Who Moved My Cheese, which I've never read but about which I've heard quite a bit. I guess in this book the author asks the question, "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

To which my initial response was "Pf. I'm not afraid of anything."

And then I remembered the year that there was a yellow jacket nest outside my apartment door and how I got stung on the same hand three times by these stupid Kamikaze bees that would lie in wait for me on places like my pillow and then when I lay down they'd do their damage and fly away giggling a little waspy giggle to themselves, and how ever since then I've been afraid of bees.

Well, I wouldn't say "afraid" so much as "reluctant around" or "more prone to flail uncontrollably in the presence of".

In truth I'm a big bundle of insecurities. But insecure people make other people uncomfortable, and whether I like it or not I have been hardwired from birth to be overly conscious of other people's comfort and ridiculously accommodating in an effort to minimize any discomfort (which is what happens when you're raised by a man who has been in the hotel business all his life.)

So wah-law, here you have cool and collected Haley. You're welcome. Can I get you a drink?

But just for kicks I'll reveal a few things to you that I'd do if I weren't afraid:
  • Cut my hair off. I've always wondered what I'd look like with a chin-length A-line haircut. But the fear that resemble the character Alice from the Dilbert comic strip keeps me from doing it.
  • Ride the Skycoaster ride at Lagoon. Actual skydiving is completely out of the question, but I could maybe be coerced into riding this contraption if I could get the idea out of my head that I'd inevitably be featured on the next Fox 13 special When Things Go Wrong - Amusement Parks.
  • Get a Master's Degree in Public Administration. I love school, but I am terrified of unnecessary debt.
  • Pursue a career in parody songwriting. Someone's gotta take over when Weird Al kicks the bucket, right? I have the knack, but for whatever reason it's more socially acceptable for men to get away with being funny than it is for women. Weird Al is funny, Weird Haley would just be weird.
  • Say a good number of things to a good many people in my life that I don't have the courage to say. Don't lose sleep wondering if you're one of them. It's hard to imagine that with the stuff that DOES make it out of my mouth that there's even more that DOESN'T make it, huh?

There's my list. If you decide to fess up some of yours and blog about it, be sure to let me know so I can explore your vulnerable side too.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"We see things not as they are, but as we are."

Someone important said that. But obviously not important enough for me to remember their name.

...Alright, I went and looked it up. It was Delbert Stapley. You'd think that name woulda stuck in my brain. I still don't know his significance though.

...Okay, I couldn't let that go either. Turns out Delbert Stapley was a member of the apostleship for the LDS Church at one point. The distinguishing characteristic that wikipedia finds important enough to note is that at one point in the 60's he fought AGAINST legislation in Michigan favoring civil rights. But keep in mind that the man was born in 1896. It then notes that his views eventually changed, and just months before he died he sustained the 1978 action of all worthy men receiving the priesthood regardless of race.

Huh. Now that this quote has some background it makes it even more interesting.

My degree, no matter how useless it might be in the business world, has actually benefitted me greatly in my interpersonal interactions. When studying Family and Human Development one learns a lot about behavior in a family context. And, since your family constitutes your most immediate relationships during your most formative years, a lot of issues people have as adults can be directly related back to how they were raised. Of course, there's a myriad of other variables that come into play as well, and it isn't to say that people can't be trained in our out of good or bad habits, but the things you learn from your family tend to be the things that stick. For good or ill.

What brought all this on, you ask? Is it that I crave school so much that I just decided to crank out a mini-essay on nature vs. nurture just for old times sake? Maybe a little.

But I've recently been reminded of the importance of context. People generally do not set out every day with the goal to be as inconsiderate as possible, or to hurt someone else's feelings, or to engage in other behaviors that are destructive to the relationships around them. But, I also don't feel that people should be spared the negative consequences that are a natural result of these destructive behaviors, because how else will the person be conditioned out of them?

For instance... at one time I was known to be fairly tactless with people about their failings. What justified this? The good ol' golden rule. I would hope to high heaven that if I were doing something stupid and didn't realize it, that someone would let me know so I could correct the behavior. So, I was just extending the same favor to other people around me under the assumption that they felt the same way I did.

As it turns out, most people DON'T like being told what they're doing wrong. Shocker, I know.

So, as I persisted in being the police woman of the universe, I began to notice that blowing my whistle at people started to have negative reprocussions of their own. People weren't comfortable being themselves around me, because heaven forbid one of their weaknesses poke out for me to see and call them on. When I thought I was helping people change for the better, it turned out people were just sucking in their guts until I was gone.

And I'd rather people be at ease around me than good around me.

So I've slowly moved away from that by trying to keep any behavior within context. It has helped me leaps and bounds in the charity department, too. It's a lot easier to love crappy people when you think that their crappiness isn't necessarily something they can control. And heaven knows I have my own set of crappy behaviors that I hope people can shake off until I can shake them off myself.

... I don't know where that all came from.

By way of a life update, I'm moving to Midvale in a couple of weeks. Not being one who likes feeling stagnant in any way, shape, or form, I was offered a room in a former roommate's new house, and I took it. I'm excited for the change and whatever growth will happen as a result.

I still love my job. You know that one restaurant where the buffet line moved and you just had to stand there and scoop stuff onto your plate as it passed? My job is like a moving buffet line of people. I go to work and every day new people come in and out of the volunteer area for me to meet and learn from. More often than not these people are happy to be there, too. I'm sure a prison security worker could also safely say that his job was like a moving buffet of people, but it'd be like a buffet of anchovies and canned peas and cat food and stuff. (For whatever reason, those were the three items that sounded the least appetizing right at this moment.)

There. There's a new blog post. Do what you will with it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pass the poi Mahana!

Sorry for the ado. Laptop difficulties.
Without any further, I present to you the magic and mystery of Oahu.

Just for background information, my dear friend Wendy and her husband Dave (who is incidentally also my friend) live in Laie, where Wendy teaches at BYUH. Wendy has a former mission companion named Bonnie who I had met a couple times in passing, and I learned that she had purchased a ticket to visit our common friend. Having been toying with the idea myself without having any real dates in mind, I just decided to hop on the bandwagon.

The flight was long, due to the big fat ocean in the way. But upon landing in Honolulu I immediately initiated my shameless touristy picture-taking by snapping a shot of this at the airport:





While waiting for Wendy and Dave to pick us up, I picked up some pamphlets and studied up on some of the wonders... and hazards... of the paradise I suddenly found myself in.

(I've always had an unnatural fear of jellyfish that almost kept me from entering the ocean at all. Unnatural because I am more likely to be eaten alive by brine shrimp in my lifetime than be stung by a jellyfish.)

Wendy and Dave greeted us and, after a stop at Pali Lookout, we went to our first official Hawaiian dining experience:





I quickly learned that all the names in Hawaii are very literal. For instance, the bus there is called "The Bus". The restroom was labeled "toilet". About every school I saw was simply labeled "school". And, of course, their most popular grocery store chain:


It made me feel like I was in a Sims game of some kind.

I also quickly learned that there are wild chickens everywhere. They were frequently found crossing roads, which for some reason I never ceased to find amusing:



Eventually we made our way from the airport to Laie, where we unloaded our stuff and relaxed for the rest of the evening. Wendy and Dave's apartment is huge! And, apparently the contractor who built it decided to use every single last piece of leftover tile he owned to finish it:


We spent the whole next day at the Polynesian Cultural Center, which is like Disneyland without the rides. We learned to play Fijian instruments, we learned more about Hawaiian songs, and we got some Tahitian tattoos:
We took a break to eat a Shave Ice and watch the floating parade of dancers. I maintain that, given the proper grass skirt, that I could successfully dance almost as well as this Tahitian dancer. Tragically I don't own such a skirt, so it cannot be proven.

video


The Samoan presentation included this tree-climber guy. I was taking pictures practically right beneath him, so he seem extra conscienscious of keeping his skirt tucked beneath him:


In Tonga-land we made these fun fish toy things out of palm frands:


As the evening pushed on we made our way to the luau dinner and show. It was an ampitheater full of tables, with people finding their seats excited to eat luau food. Or that's the gist I got from the general excitement. Let's put it this way... no one seemed like they were dreading the meal.


As we waited, nice attendants walked around asking if we wanted to purchase the special smoothie drink. Knowing that my chances of ever returning to Hawaii are slim given my current occupation of choice, I decided to pay the money for it. They sneakily stuck this thing in the back of my chair indicating that I had purchased my drink, but I didn't realize it until it caught my periphary vision and scared the heck out of me. For a split second I thought I was being attacked by a tropical bird... and I didn't pay for THAT experience:


Soon I was presented with this delightful concoction:


...Which I happily slurped while waiting for the meal to begin. It was delicious, of course.


Soon enough we were excused from our table to go and load our plates full of luau food in a buffet-style. I kind of suspected that we wouldn't be able to return, which is why I piled my plate so high in the first place (I was right). The purple roll is made with poi, which is okay in roll form, but terrible by itself.


After a night show we went home to sleep, all cultured-out for the day.

The next day we woke up to a rainstorm, but headed to Honolulu nonetheless. While passing through the mountains to get to the other side of the island, the rain was coming down so hard that each little crevice in the mountain became a waterfall. It was beautiful. (My camera didn't work quite right for the rest of the trip as a result of me sticking it out the window of our car in the downpour. So treasure this picture, would ya?)


Our intention was to visit the USS Arizona memorial; however, the heavy downpour I guess made it dangerous for us to walk on the battleship, so it was closed when we got there. It being the only free attraction there, and the fact that the rest of them were outrageously priced ($24 bucks for a submarine tour?! I can watch the Hunt for Red October instead) we moved along.

So we decided to hit the swap meet instead, which is a whole lotta little shacks selling essentially the same touristy stuff lined up all around the stadium in Honolulu. This was the bathroom at the stadium. At first I thought this girl had no arms, but then I realized it's just the silhouette of someone who truly does have to pee really bad:

Their hand-washing technology is light-years ahead of ours.

This is us, holding our cheaply-purchased treasures. We fought hard for them, having to dash in and out of huts made of tarp between moments of torrential downpour:

From the swapmeet we went to the Punchbowl Memorial Cemetary, which is a bunch of WWII veterans buried inside of a volcano crater. It was a very powerful reminder to me of the many fights that have been fought for our freedoms over the years. This is part of a mosaic there:


From the cemetary we stopped and took pictures near this huge Banyan tree:

We then ate at Macaroni Grill, where I subtley expressed my fears once again:


On the way home we stopped at Turtle Beach, where... well... you guessed it. They apparently have a team of volunteers who cover the beach pretty much constantly and ensure that no one messes with the turtles when they come up to rest (hence the red rope keeping me from getting too close.) They had just affixed a transmitter to her shell (Olivia is her name) because her behaviors recently indicated that she was resting up for a long excursion elsewhere.

Then a couple beaches later we stopped just to watch the surfers for a minute, and I was rather amused at this brave man with his metal detector. (It made me wish there were such a thing as a Jellyfish detector.)


My happy feet.


The next day was Sunday, which meant church. (They really do say "aloha" at the beginning of every meeting. It's not just a gimmick. But, the response "aloha" from the congregation isn't ever nearly as enthusiastic as it is here in the states. I guess it would get old.) After church we ate and walked around the temple grounds. The temple itself was undergoing renevations, but the grounds were still beautiful. Here's me with the giant flowers whose actual name escapes me at the moment:

This is me hugging a palm tree. It's not my first picture of me doing this.


We then walked down Hukilau Beach for a bit, where Wendy helped me identify what is not a jellyfish. ("That's a piece of coral, not a jellyfish. ... That's just a leaf, not a jellyfish.")



On Monday Wendy and Dave had to work until that afternoon, so Bonnie and I took advantage of the bright sunny morning and went to catch some rays on the beach that is only a 5 minute walk from where we were.

When they got home we made our way to the North Shore part of the island, which is world-renoun for its surfing. And, for its Shave Ice. (Not shaved, mind you. Shave.)



After our treat we drove out to the beginning of a hike out to Ka'ena point, which is the westernmost point of Oahu. It wasn't a hike so much as an hour-and-a-half-meander down a very rocky, very pothole-ridden dirt road. The last little bit of the walk entailed an Albatross sanctuary, where we observed some behaviors worthy of Animal Planet:

video


At long last, we reached the point where we intended to whale watch. But, as you can see, we started a lot later than we anticipated, and by the time we got there the sun was setting rapidly.


...Which, as you can imagine, made our hike back pretty interesting. We hadn't brought any flashlights or anything, so we slowly made our way back down the rocky road with only the light from two cell phones to help us navigate around the mudholes and pitfalls (at times unsuccessfully.) It was so dark by the time we found the car that we didn't even know we had reached the car until we were three feet away from it. Here's the picture we took by cell-phone-light in the car once we found it, just to document exactly how dark it was:



The next day we spent the morning at Waimea Bay, where I finally entered the ocean beyond my ankles (after several assurances that the waters were jellyfish-free.) We body-boarded and snorkeled for a few hours. The snorkleing wasn't excellent, but I did see a few fish and actually caught sight of a sea turtle nearby during the five minutes my head was actually in the water (before I gave in to the charlie horses in my feet caused by the flippers.) I was more entertained by the bodyboarding, because being slammed into the beach and getting my swimsuit full of sand was a lot more fun to me.
Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of this excursion. But it happened. I swear.
Then Wednesday morning Bonnie and I woke up and made our way down to the Hukilau Cafe (which, I guess, has been immortalized in the movie 50 First Dates, which I've never seen. It's not the same cafe as is in the movie, from what I'm told.)

It was a tiny cafe, with HUGE pancakes! I ordered the banana pancakes (in honor of Jack Johnson's song), and Bonnie got the coconut pancakes. Very delicious, but entirely too much food. You can't tell from this picture, but each pancake was about an inch thick.


It would be our last breakfast on the island, as we were flying out that night. Wendy and Dave came home from work and we headed out to explore about the only part of the island we'd yet to see, which was the south point. I don't remember the name of this point, but it was the last picture I took. (When I took this picture we were standing next to a couple who had literally just gotten married down at the beach and had ventured up to the lookout still in their wedding clothes to look down on the site of their matrimonial bliss. It took all my strength not to kick one of them in the shin before I left.)

From there we stopped for a meal at Chili's before they dropped us off at the airport. And thus we bade aloha to the island.

It was probably the most relaxing vacation I've ever been on, thanks to Wendy and Dave's hospitality. Having a free place to stay, an agenda already planned, and someone to drive you around (thanks Dave!) made this the vacation to beat in my lifetime so far.

And, notwithstanding the fact that it was no where near Christmastime, the song Mele Kaliki Maka was in my head pretty much the whole time I was there.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Big bucks, no Whammies!

I, Haley Marie Greer, am a game show junkie.

I link this back to the days of year-round elementary school, where my brother KC and I would be left at home to fend for ourselves while off-track for a couple weeks at a time. We were old enough to take care of ourselves at that point so my mother can't really be accused of neglecting us while she was at work. We, being the Greers that we are, knew our way around the kitchen and were perfectly capable of preparing any number of instant meals on our own.

And besides, who needs a mother when you have Pat Sayjack and Chuck Woolery to raise you?

I had a specific line-up of shows every day. Some were more critical than others, so depending on the day I might have skipped one show or another to either prepare the before-mentioned instant lunch or to go downstairs and perfect my Super Mario Kart skills. But here the shows are, in the order I remember them appearing on my television each day:

The Price is Right - Came on right after mom left and Little House on the Prairie ended.
Supermarket Sweep - A grocery pricing game, which resulted in a mad-dash through a grocery store to "buy" as many things as possible for the most money possible. It made me very conscious of how very expensive meat was compared to other things.
Shop-Till-You-Drop - Much like Supermarket Sweep, but set in a mall setting. Even as a 5th grader I remember thinking how goofy the premise of this show was.
Win, Lose, or Draw - One of my favorites, because I fancied myself somewhat of an artist at that age. I didn't have a clue who the celebrities were that they got to be on the show, but the audience thought they were hysterical, and so of course I did too.
Love Connection - I had no interest in the actual compatibility of the couples on this show. Instead, I lived to see if the person the contestant picked for themselves was the same or different from the one the audience chose for them. I found all kinds of suspense in that for some reason.
The Newlywed Game - This was usually the show I skipped the most often to go make myself some mac and cheese and pester my brother for awhile.
Name That Tune - I LOVED this game, even though I rarely knew the songs they were singing.
Hollywood Squares - Also one of my favorite shows. Still would be if it still was on. Wait, is it still on? I know Whoopi Goldberg made a comeback with it for awhile...
100,000 Pyramid - I'm pretty sure this is the game that made me yell at the TV the most often. Which is funny, because the correct answer would be displayed on the bottom of the screen, so of COURSE the contestant would be an idiot compared to me.
Press Your Luck - If you haven't seen this show, you're missing out. It still plays on the Game Show Network if you have access to it. Hi-lar-ious. And original to boot.

Of course, all of this was just something to occupy my time until Saturday rolled around and American Gladiators, my true reason for living, came on.

Most of my life goals are fairly vague and non-specific. But I've recently decided that being on a professional game show is one of them. Not reality TV mind you (which is the poor man's gameshow because it clouds the "game" of the gameshow with ridiculous drama... with the exception of the Amazing Race of course), but a real gameshow where there are winners and losers clearly established in no longer than a one-hour show.

I'm thinking my best bet for this to happen will be the Price is Right, but it would be my happiest day ever if I could make it on the Wheel of Fortune. Why? Because I'm fairly confident I would clean up. However, they don't seem to have shows that aren't themed around something, and I'm not in college, I'm not in the armed forces, I don't follow NASCAR, and I happen to still be without a sweetheart, so I might be out of luck. There's no "Mediocre White Girl Week" on the Wheel.

There should be. I'd clean up.

On an unrelated note, I leave for Hawaii in a week. It's safe to bet that my next post will involve pictures from that escapade.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Needs.

It's been a long week at work, notwithstanding the actual shortness of the week due to the holiday.

Consequently, I will not be tapping my own thoughts tonight, for they are not my most upbeat. Instead, I'll be stealing a hilarious tag from my friend Jason:

Google the phrase (including the quotes) "[your first name] needs" and write down the first 10 results.

1. Haley needs to grow up.
2. Haley needs HELP and it has NOTHING to do with $$$$$$$$$$
3. Haley needs a sister.
4. Haley needs to stop laughing.
5. Haley needs to keep her hands to herself. (*snort*)
6. Haley needs a storyline Marky! (?)
7. Haley needs to get back to Walking Mississippi.
8. Haley needs funds to amputate leg so she can survive. (!)
9. Haley needs to Step Up.
10. Haley needs to beat that skank's arse!!! (okay, this one was really like number 13, but I thought it was so funny that I had to include it on the list.)

I encourage you to humbly request your own needs from the all-knowing Google.

And, for the record, I never have nor will I ever need a sister. EVER. If I did, I'm sure I would need to beat that skank's arse. ;)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

...so stay with me and I'll have it made.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with the band Blind Melon.

Even if you're not familiar with the band itself, I can almost guarantee you're familiar with their most popular song, No Rain.

But tragically, many of you may have not seen the music video to the song No Rain by Blind Melon.

And so I think you should watch it. Here.

That being viewed, now you'll understand when I say that some days I feel like the bee girl.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Play-By-Play Saturday

For those just joining us, I work at a certain Bank of Food in Utah (referred to generically so as to prevent our PR girl from finding my blog. If it didn't work, Hi Jess!) I absolutely love my job. (And I'm not just saying that because I have PR girls potentially reading this.) My days are filled with people, and as most of you know, I love people. I'm at work on this Saturday morning, and since it's a somewhat slow day in our warehouse, I thought I'd give you a little log of what happens throughout my day, so you can maybe understand why I'm slowly becoming a workaholic.

7:45am - Arrive at work to find a group of boyscouts locked out of the parking lot, waiting out in the cold to come in and do their scheduled service. They offer me a donut while we wait. I silently curse the Saturday project managers and make a vow to campaign for my own set of keys on Monday.

8:05 - One of the boyscouts gets brave enough to scale the chain link fence and go alert someone inside to the fact that the gate was still locked. One of the project managers sheepishly comes outside and apologizes. My contempt is swept away.

8:15 - A handful of court-ordered community service workers straggle in. One (Short Squirrley Man) is sent to start building a fort of empty boxes in the sort room; another (Jerry Garcia) is sent to restock some stuff, and another (David Archuleta's evil twin) is sent to organize the supply closet. David seems insulted by the menial task he's assigned. I refrain from reminding him that he, only weighing 90 lbs, is not suited for our heavier work.

8:45 - A troubled youth work group shows up to do whatever we need them to. I tell them to go sweep. They inform me there are no brooms on the wall. I tell them to go on a super fun scavenger hunt in the warehouse to FIND all the brooms, and THEN proceed to sweep. They're not fooled by the words "super" and "fun".

9:00 - A family shows up to sort food, led by their father who resembles Mr. Magoo. One of the sons has long blonde hair topped with a beanie. I wonder how many Cousin It references he gets in any given day. I give them the food sorting song and dance: chili is a canned meal, olives are a condiment, refried beans are an ethnic food. They, as usual, don't listen, because how hard could sorting food be?

9:15 - I notice that the project manager has a dirt stripe across his face, most likely from moving pallets. I decide not to tell him. That'll teach him to leave me waiting in the cold with the gate locked. Looks like not ALL of my contempt was swept away.

10:00 - Mrs. Magoo comes to ask me what category chili belongs in. I want to tell her EXACTLY where she can stick it. Instead, I kindly remind her that it is a canned meal.

10:05 - An unscheduled family comes in and wants to help. I put them to work, but ask them to schedule in the future so we know they're coming. The mother is a little offended - her family comes in ALL the time unannounced and no one's given her a hassle before. I seriously doubt it. I soothe her ego by telling her we're actually really GLAD they did show because we truthfully needed their help a lot today. It's a lie, but it makes her happy.

10:10 - The Magoo daughter comes over to ask where chili goes. The Magoo family apparently aren't effective communicators. But at least they were on the schedule.

10:45 - Evil David Archuleta declares himself done organizing the closet, and asks for a print out of his hours completed so far. I ask what happened to the printout I gave him on Friday. He shrugs. I sigh and smile.

11:15 - A Spanish woman and her daughter come in, and the daughter asks, "Is this where we get food?" I pull out a list of pantries in the county and hand it over, referring them to their local agency, and send them away. It's the saddest part of my job... sending a hungry family away from a warehouse full of food. But that's how it goes.

11:20 - A dock door is opened, letting in a blast of arctic air. I shiver, and zip up my giant coat. One of the warehouse boys notices me and laughs. I throw a piece of Christmas candy at him. I'm then reminded that I should probably erase the caroling penguins off the white board behind me and draw something non-Christmas themed instead. I'm sad to see the penguins go... they took some doing to get up there in the first place.
... I'm also reminded that I should probably do my part to eat the rest of the Christmas candy.

11:35 - A father rolls a cart full of food boxes to be delivered past my desk. His 3 year old son is sitting on top of the boxes, enjoying the ride. From my seat behind the volunteer desk all I see is a blonde little boy's head giggling, floating past me. I offer them my Christmas candy as they leave, and decide to eat my apple and peanut butter instead.

11:43 - I make the mistake of going back to my office for a moment to retrieve some paperwork and see that there are 7 messages on my phone. I choose to pretend I didn't see them.

12:03 - I send another Spanish family away with a list of food pantries.

12:14 - Mr. Magoo and family want to be put on the schedule for next Saturday too. I tell them that, unfortunately, we're booked that day. They settle for the following two Saturdays. Cousin It hasn't smiled since he walked in the doors, and still looks grim upon leaving. His morning of fighting hunger seems to have had no effect on his cold, sad heart.

12:15 - I decide to stop blogging while working, because it seems to be taking priority over the data entry that needs to be done.

So there you have it. That's a nice sampling of what I do for a living. There are definitely days that are much more stress and chaos-filled (take, for instance, the forty 10-year-olds and their two leaders that were here on Friday), but for now, I'll happily take this quiet Saturday.

As long as Evil David doesn't give me any more attitude.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Shh! Quiet up there!

Despite what infrequent blog postings might indicate, my brain is actually quite noisy these days. But, like some other blogging friends have indicated, there are just too many people of consequence who check in on this blog for me to be very specific or candid about anything. Maybe I should set up a different blog for only specific subscribers to view--people who would be a great audience for my antics, but whose reach in my life is not close enough to interfere.

Don't get excited. It probably won't happen.

Recently I've been thinking about puzzles. Those 1000 piece suckers that cause you ridiculous amounts of frustration for being an inanimate object and a general waste of time. I love them, because in the midst of all the frustration of searching through pieces that DON'T fit, you get little injections of satisfaction and accomplishment every time you DO find a piece that fits. No matter how down, confused, disheartened, and intimidated by life's ups and downs you may be, in the moment you snap one of those pieces into its perfect and intended place, you are on top of the world and capable of anything.

But then moment passes, and you're on to your next piece.

And then there are those pieces... those pieces that, upon first look, seem to have found their rightful position in the puzzle. But you look closer to see the slightest amount of wiggle or resistance to the piece as you stick it in, and you know in your heart of hearts that the piece is not right. Still, you find yourself trying to pound the piece into place anyway or wiggling it over and over again in a vain effort to get that shot of satisfaction that only comes with true piece completion. You've been searching for that piece for the longest time, surely anything to fill the void at this point would be better than nothing. But you know it's not, and that it will only cause problems with future pieces if you were to continue to pretend the wrong piece was right.

So you begrudgingly remove the piece and go find a Caffeine-free Diet Dr. Pepper to drown your sorrows.

And then when you have several people working on puzzles, out of the corner of your eye you'll note them successfully clicking pieces into place with ease. If you're self conscious about your own puzzle-completing abilities, this might make you frustrated and want to abandon the puzzle for awhile. Or, their success can remind you that, with persistence, progress CAN be made on the puzzle, and can encourage you to keep at it, no matter what skills you lack in the spatial relations department.

I also find it helpful to look at the picture on the front of the box, provided by the puzzle's creator. Though it may not give much specific help as to individual pieces, it's great for general ideas of where pieces should go. And, the complete picture gives you an image of what you're striving for and makes you excited to get there.

...What?

I just really like puzzles, okay?

After all, I've never been one to be known for being figurative...