I Wish I Had Learned To Spit

Caught in Corners…

I wish I had learned to spit.

Sometimes, it’s the only way to express myself adequately.

I’m in a saber-rattling mood this morning. The day is gray as a nun, but I am smoldering. Breathing fire. I am of the idea that people should do their work, when it is their perception they are too important to do so & they are too aligned with that perception to accomplish much. Yet, am I not among them in my own way? So what is my job? For now, let me just vent here. Lie low, readers for I am in “take no prisoners” mode. I need either a vacation (coming soon) or more flower essences for noncombatant status than I can afford or have on hand.

I think I can & do make a difference. But yesterday was a revelation. I am newly involved in a Board for a local service organization. I found out my training did not include essential duties – actually, did not even incorporate training to do a proper job. Deadlines are missed which will cost our 501(c)3 money better used to help our clientele. Who passes over a title with a quick underhand, without informing the trainee of essential responsibilities? Well, the folks who elected me to the position. They were far more interested in the sale at Hobby Lobby for the fairy garden gnomes available this spring than in making me effective for what I will be doing. So I’m playing catch up but cannot do so until they have finished their sewing project, so just hang on here, Carol.  Curb your enthusiasm, okay?

I am becoming adamantine when I need to be malleable. Is this what age is about? Entrenchment? So it would seem. I arrive on the scene, cloaked in dragon mode, all teeth arranged in a ripping row, only to find those departing have waved over their shoulders, leaving me nothing to chew. All kinds of words rise to the surface: inefficiency, drawn to detail without a glimpse of the bigger picture, going to war armed with paper clips & rearranging the magnets on the fridge as the IRS ticks us off on the box saying “no response from them, time to set the penalty fee.”

I take flower essences for being haughty, for being pushy, for being bossy. These are needed qualities to get tasks organized & completed, especially in leadership. However, I’ve enjoined a flaw along the way: thinking others wanted to me to succeed when they were more interested in finishing up the latest pièce de résistance craftwork for the mantel than in the efficiencies of the organization they are fading back from. Is this what public service has become?

People show up at meetings with clothing on inside out, with papers disorganized & without the simple knowledge that to get these in order beforehand might work. The Treasurer is opening bills at the meeting, trying to pull together a report offhand & full of “um, it’s in here somewhere, hang on”. He turns to me saying, “You need to run a tape of your expenses before submitting them” (I point to the totals list) “What’s your last name, anyway?” (I point to the address label on the report.) “What’s the name of the play this is for?” (Not only is he in this play, but the name is at the top of my paperwork.) The President has no Minutes from the last meeting – the first item up on the agenda. Oh wait, did I even see an agenda for this one? Actually, no. But it will be all right – the ten-minutes’- late-arrival of another Chair to the meeting (entering as we dial her number) will furnish the Minutes, handwritten & out of sequence, to be squinted at & read to the group. The entire meeting is conducted in the spirit of passive-aggressive counting coup. Few stay to topic – a specific question leads to discussion around recipes. I sit & simmer, pen in hand, waiting for a conclusion to write down. If none appears, I make one up…my contribution to next month’s confusion.

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one with a point to it all. But it isn’t up to me & my point is lost in all the trying to be nice when underneath nice is where everyone lives because no one understands how to hold a real meeting. It’s a cabal of amateurs with the impression they know what they are doing. And why is the group less than successful? And why do they settle for this when they should take leadership in the community & serve as they ought?

Another volunteer gig sees me wrong in the eyes of the client – who thinks no one should be talking out loud in the room. As I prepare to ask the talkers to tone it down or leave, I am accused of not doing my job, “this only happens on your shift! Even YOU talk out loud in here.” “We’re not the public library,” I mildly protest, only to have a set of headphones flung at me as she screams “you’re a white shit” & flounces out. The client’s last name is “Mello” and she comes into the computer lab to listen to Indian Chant…guess she was having a Kali Ma day. My laugh-out-loud at these antics does not calm the situation. So I write “bipolar” next to her name in dismissive retaliation. Am I any better at handling the situation?

To say yesterday was frustrating is to say stupid is not abroad in the land. When people with beards & wearing fatigues are screeching, “You didn’t call me Ma’am! Watch your ** pronouns!” I am a bit lost in it. Is everyone in town off their meds – or should I be taking some?

Most of the time I’m a nice gal. But my slide into satire, cynicism & sarcasm is down a very short slope. My descriptions are apt, to the point, painful. I can leave people bloody & it takes awhile to scrub the entrails from under my nails & many toothpicks to dislodge these bits from my teeth. I try to remain patient, kind, loving – but I can be overbalanced by raw stupidity, discourtesy, unprofitable idiocy…just to name a few.

I like volunteering. But it makes me low on the totems. It is a false “in-charge” position against which demands are made to enforce the rights of others in a place where they um, actually? do not possess “rights.” Or perhaps these are better described as “entitlements.” They are availing a public service offering, unpaid & disrespected as it doesn’t live up to what they consider their standards. However, their life is not my fault. If one goes to a library, it doesn’t pay to throw the books around while hollering at the help. Or at least it never did before. I guess it does now.

I won’t go off into “whatever happened to” here. That would take pages to write. But I do have a realization that everyone is in their own space of right & wrong & it is one I may never have visited or conceived.

Among these experiences – being shoddily trained & left unprepared – seeing the underbelly of how irresponsibility can slow down the results of any process…I recognize I need to be more patient & forgiving, more forbearing overall.

I will smile when Ms. Mello next returns & asks for a set of headphones. I will show up to take minutes at the next Board Meeting of our town’s best hope at theatre. I will find a way to tame the fires of wanting so fiercely for all to be “right” as my way in the understanding that all is right just as it exists in now-time. I will turn it into laughter, as I do most of the silly adversity by which others use to prove they exist. I am both larger & smaller on the scales than I like to think.

It’s far more fun being the MGM lion though! Love that big, snarly roar!

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