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?"


"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.