God, I love that song. Buffalo Springfield. Okay, yeah, it's an age marker. Because I can sing the whole damn thing. It's been running through my head the last couple of days.
I have had a couple of experiences with people the last few days that have me, well, in one case puzzled and in another, rather awe struck. That's because something dawned on me and I wondered why it took me so long to figure this out.
Volunteers are usually good people. We all know this. What I didn't realize is that volunteers are also people who have control issues and WAY too much time on their hands. This is why they're volunteers, 'natch. Now, I'm not talking about all of you people who juggle responsibility with volunteerism. I'm talking about the people who volunteer because they have nothing better to do.
You know, sort of like what happens "when the idle poor become the idle rich". If you've ever read, or seen "The Nanny Diaries" you'll know what I'm talking about.
Case in point: Yesterday I found myself at an absolutely wonderful event. It was a performance of "Suessical" performed by high school kids for kids much younger than themselves and, frequently, less fortunate. It's a joy to watch, it invigorates me to no end. At the end of the performance the cast comes out of the theater. Right out, no changing, no make up removal. You can't imagine the face of a six year old day camper who has just met The Cat In The Hat! I'm getting ahead of myself here.
Anyway, I had seen the show over the week-end and wanted to see it again. It's magical. It's also closed, sorry. Anyway, I invited my father and step-mother to come. My father drove. Yeah, been there, done that. My step mother is a very small white haired woman with a cane. We dropped her off close to the theater (which is on a college campus) and parked the car. The show was obviously starting extremely late, the theater doors weren't open. There were hundreds of excited day campers and one missing little old lady. Who is married to my father who is deaf in the best of circumstances and is now trying to hear me over the din of 400 six year olds. As we're walking I'm yelling to be heard over the din and I'm saying "maybe she went in there, I'll check" (pointing to the open door of the adjacent building which contained the ladies room).
Some volunteer behind a folding table who was supposed to be selling Snicker bars started yelling at me..."who are you looking for?" After three times I finally turned and said "My step-mother, do you know her? " Now, as the woman didn't know ME I was pretty sure she didn't know my step mother. I was right. "Well, she didn't go in anywhere, the show hasn't started. The doors are closed." "Yes," I said, "I'm aware of that." The volunteer had time on her hands, I guess. "Well then, she's not inside, is she?" Volunteer lady? Do NOT condescend to me, I'm fifty six freaking years old. I am losing my politeness with age. I think that has something to do with my growing a mustache. "Then what bush are you sending people to pee behind?" I asked her. Two hundred kids giggled hysterically..."she said PEE". The volunteer got even huffier. I left. Lady, my son is the stage manager in there, I did NOT just fall off the turnip truck. But I digress. The point I was making was that this was, someone who was volunteering because she had time on her hands, not because she had any special fondness for, or belief in the program. You can spot those volunteers. She wasn't one of them. And she wasn't very nice.
During this same time period I found myself on the end of another martinet volunteer. This one runs a web site which, I gather, nets her no monetary rewards. You may be familiar with it, this isn't the first time I've mentioned it (koffkoffJuly17koffkoff) . Now, said volunteer identifies herself as a mother and a businesswoman. She has children, that's true. She also has a home based business which, from both personal experience and customer reports seems to consist of ignoring the people she recruits to work under her, packing incomplete orders for shipment and then shipping them late. Based on this, I don't see that the business would take up a lot of time.
Periodically the news trickles in to her that someone, somewhere, in some space/time continuum has fallen out of love with her. And THIS, apparently, is what fills her hours. She uses the internet to stalk people who have annoyed her. She searches and investigates and follows link after link until she finds just what, exactly, the person who annoys her is doing, thus gaining powerful insights into the psyche of people who don't like her as well as filling a veritable arsenal with information to be used against the transgressors.
God in heaven, what I would give for that kind of spare time! Seriously. Not only the time, but the space in my brain to store all that crap. But I have a full time job, I actually contribute something besides my smiling face to my family. If I spent that much time tracking down people who annoyed me at least one of my kids would be in jail now. I mean, come ON...there are times you just have to put down the mouse and take care of those people you brought into your life. You married the guy, you owe him. You had the kids, you owe them.
Not to mention, and this is what I REALLY don't get, all the time spent chasing people you don't LIKE! Here's the way I see it. Maybe I don't like someone. Okay, no maybe about it, there are definitely people I don't like. And there are also people who don't like me. Now I could jump up and down and say I'm so secure that I have pulled on my big girl panties and I don't CARE about the people who don't like me because I know how absolutely awesome I am. But, come on here, everyone feels bad when someone doesn't like them. Well, everyone with a heart, anyway. But, 9 times out of 10, there's really nothing you can do about it so you move on.
Because why the hell would I waste time chasing people I don't like? Hmmmm, let's see. I don't like you, you annoy the hell out of me. If I never heard from you again it would be too soon. So what am I going to do about this? I know! I'm going to spend hours and hours chasing you all over the internet so I can tell my friends, who probably don't like you either, that you're a psycho and a drunk and I want them to be mean to you because it'll make me feel better.
"Paranoia strikes deep", I'm guessing.
Now, maybe it's just me but if someone annoys me I do NOT waste my time trying to find out what they're doing and what they're saying. I've got way better things to do with my time. I've got kids to listen to. I've got a husband to annoy and a cat to feed and a job to look after. I've got carpets to vacuum and pizza to order on warm summer nights. I've got sunsets to watch and a father to reminisce with. I have a grieving, recently widowed friend to be there for. I have wine to sip and an ocean to watch. I have trips to casinos in the desert to make and visits to outlet malls at the beach to relish. I have shows to see and flash mobs to dance in. I have picnics to pack and jazz to hear. I have checkbooks to balance and bills to pay. I have fragrant Indian food to try and I still have the pyramids to see.
See? I simply don't have TIME to spend chasing people I don't like through cyberspace. I barely have time to deal with the people and things I LIKE let alone waste all those hours worrying about slights, be they real or imagined. So, you found my blog and you read it. You stuck your nose into the doorway of a party you weren't invited to and everybody was having a real good time and they didn't even notice you weren't there. So you cried and cried and fumed and turned red and stomped your privileged little foot until someone said "I will block the big bad person you don't like from our website which she seldom visits anyway and it will break her heart and you will feel better and you will feel vindicated and can hold your little head up high, knowing you have slain the demon."
And if it makes you feel better, well, go ahead on. If that will help you with the hatred and the paranoia, sure, why the hell not?
But it still won't make me give a crap about you.
The opposite of love, my poor, deluded volunteer, is not hate. It's indifference. Hatred and arrogance are what unfocused people with too much time on their hands use to fill up the empty spaces. And there's a difference between cojones and petulance. Hillary Clinton doesn't pout. 'Nuff said.
"You better stop, hey, what's that sound, everybody look what's going down."
Volunteerism is good. People who volunteer to do stuff because they aren't paying attention to the things that are really important? Yeah, I think those are the ones who NEED the help. They sure as hell shouldn't be giving it.