Tuesday, August 29, 2006


As the Interim Volunteer Services Director I have to interact with potential volunteers. Most of the time these are business professionals sometimes they are not. Before today, I met one person who I did not really want to become a volunteer. She only wanted to volunteer because she wants to start a program such as ours on her own with the young people she mentors through her church group. Typically I would be fine with that. This woman, however, should not be teaching anyone how to find work. She looked like one of the people who did not successfully complete our program 20 years ago. Once when she came to observe one of the classes she brought her son. I'm not kidding. She walked in here in an outfit that could only have been from Rainbow, Pay-half, Wet Seal or some other awful store that peddles so called fashion to the creatively challenged (for those of you who don't know what these places are is think the cheapest Baby Phat knock-offs imaginable), fake gold chains, huge earrings that may as well have had her name in them, and brought her 5 year old to sit in on a class. I wanted to turn her right out the door but I was too astonished to know what to say. Did I mention she can't speak anything approximating proper English? Now I am not saying I always converse in a perfectly correct manner (read blog) but I can if I need to. I don't think that is a possibility for this woman.

I thought she was a new low-point in a volunteer until today. Mary at the front desk called me and told me someone was here that was interested in volunteering. I went out to do my thing. This woman looked totally normal, then she began to speak. As I am walking her to my office she is telling me she wants to volunteer in the arts (we are an employment agency). As we sit, I begin to tell her about our volunteer opportunities, which consist of teaching parts of our 8-day pre-employment workshop. She cuts me off to mention how she wants to volunteer as an office assistant and do work that is a little above data-entry. I tell her, again, that we don't really have volunteer opportunities like that. She said she would be interested in whatever could get her foot in the door so I told her about what we did have. When I talked about strengths and weaknesses class she said "that is good because it is something I work with. I want to be a gospel singer. A staple in the gospel world for years and years. I'm a budding musician". I realize that I can't describe/write this woman's speech pattern correctly but suffice to say either she thought I had sub-par intelligence or she did have sub-par intelligence. She really loved calling me Miss. Daniels even though I told her a good 5 times that Natalie is fine. I hate Miss. Daniels. She asked me about internships, I mentioned those were for college students and asked if she was in school "Not now, but I could be," she told me. I explained that our interns do this for college credit and are typically psychology students in their Sr. year. "Oh, that sounds interesting" she replied, "can I have an application?" I was floored at this point. She then told me she really wanted to bypass volunteering and join our board. Who is she kidding? I politely told her that our board does a lot of fundraising and their yearly donations are in the 10k plus a year range, which may or may not be true it probably depends on the board member, and if that was something she was in a position to do maybe we could talk about it. "Maybe after I get my music career going".

I must briefly comment on her Volunteer Application. Under employer she put Chicago Park District-pending arts and crafts teacher's assistant. Under school she put KKC- one of the Chicago city colleges graduation summer 06. Now you would think if that was true she would have mentioned just finishing when we were talking about school. Her last work experience was in '99. I am guessing she has been in some kind of treatment facility since then (that wasn't nice Natalie) and is now an outpatient or something.

Things went on like this for a good 30+ minutes. I was mentally exhausted. She kept repeating everything I told her but in a way that made no sense. She kept asking me questions that made no sense based on what I had already told her and were totally of topic. I am completely exhausted. She closed things out by asking me "how can I transfer myself to other things here, like transferable skills, that’s one of the classes, I like this". That is really what she said. I kind of feel like a bad person writing about her but man, it really blew my mind. I was very polite to her and as helpful as I could possibly be so I guess I am not a bad person. Maybe she won't follow up.

I had to come back and add this after speaking to my mother. She said people may not understand that this person was seriously a problem and may just think I am an asshole. I can be an asshole, in this situation this is not the case. In my talking about the first woman who was a bad dresser, poor speaker, and brought her child maybe I am an ass. After this crazy woman left I asked the receptionist if it was just me or if she was nuts. The receptionist cracked up and said she was glad I was free at the time to take the crazy lady or else she would have been stuck talking to this lady. She agreed that she is probably an outpatient somewhere. So in case I have not been detailed enough about how truly strange this person was. Believe me, she was nuts.

I am hoping that music will clear my mind

Get Into The Groove, Madonna- This is funny because I watched Desperately Seeking Susan last night. Actually I fell asleep to it but Tony watched it. We are really scraping the bottom of the On Demand barrel.

Boogie In Your Butt, Eddie Murphy- This is the theme song of my family and apparently is my parent's "song". Shoshana (sis) had only heard this song talked about in the family until April this year when I played the song for her. She nearly had an aneurysm. Then when I went home we played it for the fam and Mom did the bump and was captured on the digital camera in film version. She may have deleted it by now. If she hadn't she probably will after reading this.

Ain't No Sunshine, Bill withers- This is easily one of my favorite songs that I forget about. It is so incredibly good. In "Streetfight" a.k.a "Coonskin" there is a scene with Brer Bear walking down the street all depressed because he was no longer friends with Brer Rabbit. If anyone likes racism and Ralph Bakshi I highly recommend this film. If not, you probably shouldn't see it.


J. said...

I sadly relate to your post! I used to work in a treatment facility for teenagers with behavioral and psychological disorders. You would think that the staff would have to be sane to become employed there? Nope. It almost seems like those types of jobs attract the most mentally unhealthy people around. We would get volunteers who were definitely not appropriate to be working with troubled youth because they were so troubled themselves.

Natalie said...

You have a point. This lady was trying to teach people. The youth I work with need business professonals to advise them. I am sure she will do great in her pending job as an arts and crafts teacher's assistant with the park district. Just not here.

sunshine scribe said...

Thanks for introducing me to your great blog and the great veggie comment on mine.

I too work in the non-profit sector and one of my roles is to build our volunteer team. I was doing my best not to laugh as I read your post. I could write a dozen experiences just like it. Sigh.

Mrs. Loquacious said...

At least she gave you a good story to tell, right? ;)

Bill Withers' Ain't No Sunshine is one of my faves. My Hubbs listened to it a lot when I was a continent away from him...

Alanda said...

Streetfight = MEskin? :)

Natalie said...

Yeah "Streetfight" was originally released as "Coonskin" but people didn't think that was a good idea. The movie went out of print for a while and is now available again, I think. All I know is that i have a copy and that makes me happy.