Saturday, August 25, 2007

Can't we all just get along?

I worked with the public today at community event. It involved passing out brochures, shaking hands, answering questions,etc. Lots of characters passed through our booth during one of these events, but it seemed to me like today I saw more than the usual number of them.
My favorite was the short, squat German woman who strode over to our booth, with her husband trailing behind. While he stood grimly at a distance, she asked for some gardening information because her husband wanted to have a garden. Hands drawing pictures in the air, she explained that "he don't know noting about de gardening. He hired a man to till up half de yard, trows de seed out dere and tinks dats eet. When we got notin he dont' understand why." I leaned around her and told him there were great gardening classes overed by a local club and she pshawed, "You can't tell him notin. I try to help, give hm de books, and he says, no, he can garden. He don't need nobody tellin' him noting. So I go to de class and learn about de gardening. Den we have somtin." And she strode away, her husband trudging behind.

I crossed paths with a long time, respected parent volunteer who talked to me about another troublesome parent who's lately attempted to run every event she's been involved in.

It's creating problems with the other parents, some of whom are threatening to jump ship if she doesn't stop. This is nothing new to volunteer organizations, but it does make me weary. Thanks to three years of this and some volunteer management tips from more experienced people, I have an answer this time.

The parent who tends to take over events are a lot like Border Collies. They need a job to keep from driving everyone around them crazy. So I've got to sift through my hat boxes and see if I can find something for her to wear that will keep her busy, and be truly helpful without insulting her intelligence.

Still, I do wish adults would just learn to play nicely; the very skill we're trying to impart to the kids we're all supposedly pulling for. How hard is this? Take turns. Maybe next time you can be the boss. This time it's Suzy's turn. For now, why don't you play with this toy or go see if Alice over there needs help . . . .


Dennis Bryant said...

I got a chuckle from your account of the German woman. The community I live in is very ethnically German, and those few of us are not have a saying:

"You can always tell a German, but you can't tell him much."

Scotty said...

Can't we all just get along?

Apparently not; the state of the planet we share is proof of that...

Anonymous said...

Getting along, being polite, playing together, sharing, working well together, etc, etc, etc. Basic lessons indeed!
A cute kids book (actually part of a trio) that every adult should read (don't skip it just because of the sappy first part of the title!): 'Chicken Soup for Little Souls: The Goodness Gorillas' by Lisa McCourt.
Probably at any local library, no matter how small. Let's all go back to first grade for just a short least attitude wise!


Mary O. Paddock said...

I'm falling behind on my replies!

Hi Dennis. My mother-in-law is German. 'Nuff said.

Scotty and Eileen,
It is an elusive skill, isn't it? Thanks for the book suggestion Eileen. I'll look it up.