Saturday, January 16, 2016

It's not what I had in mind

When I bought my 1998 Honda Accord in 1998, I added a license plate frame that reads "Make God laugh - tell Him your plans". I replaced that Accord last year. And I moved the license plate frame to my new car. Some things don't change, I guess. And I still need to be reminded.

I'm a mediator in Washington State. I donate my time to the Dispute Resolution Center in my county, and I'm the lead of a team of mediators in small claims court every other Tuesday. So this year, when it was nearly time to leave for our winter place in Arizona, I spent a little time online to see if I could find a place to volunteer in Tucson. I figure, after four winters in Arizona, it's time for me to contribute to the larger community instead of just having a good time every day at our 55+ resort.

I called one place that looked promising - a social services agency providing multiple services, including mediation by volunteer mediators. I called the place and the woman I talked to sounded excited and encouraging. "Call back tomorrow, when Catherine is here." I did. No response from Catherine. A week later, another call, and no response. So I figured I wasn't supposed to mediate in Arizona this year. I wondered what the Universe had in mind for me. Maybe finish my book, maybe finish my Rosetta Stone Spanish. I looked forward to both those things.

We arrived in early December, before high season, and spent the month fixing up our place. A couple of weeks in, I was approached by Dee M, who produced last year's Voyager Light Opera Company's version of "Guys and Dolls". My husband Art was in the cast of that play. I asked Dee what I could do to help with this year's "Oklahoma!". She said, "I would like you to be in charge of ticket sales. The Activities Center will not sell tickets for us this year, so we're setting up our own box office and staffing it four hours a day, five days a week with volunteers."

I don't know what possessed me to say yes.

Oklahoma! is running on the nights of March 10 and March 11. Five hundred seats each night. One Thousand Tickets to sell.

Volunteers were rounded up for two-hour shifts for the ten weeks of sales. I planned to train each new volunteer, as we're doing manual sales and also entering information into an automated system to see if that might make the job easier next year. That was my plan. Art would be busy learning his lines and his songs.

What actually happened is that I had a houseguest for six days right around the start  of ticket sales. I wanted to spend time with her, so Art got called in to help. I said, "Art, if you will take over these sales until January 15, I promise to do all the rest from then on." Art said okay.

Then I got sick, before my houseguest left. For two days I didn't even get out of my pajamas. My houseguest spent three days with another Tucson friend. Art went to the box office every day, balanced the money each day, made the bank deposit.

Then I flew to Seattle for three days for a meeting in Olympia. Art continued to bail me out.

I had people I didn't know calling to volunteer. We winter residents are from all over the country and Canada. Incoming calls came from numbers in Texas, New York and Michigan. I suspected telemarketers but I was wrong. I ended up not answering so I could check voicemail when I got back to my scheduling calendar. One time I did answer; I was at the dentist in Nogales, Mexico, and told Fran W I'd call her as soon as I got home. I completely forgot about her for a week and then had to apologize for my senior-brain thoughtlessness.

On Monday it's my turn to take over the ticket sales from Art. But he has apparently enjoyed this activity sufficiently that he says he'll balance the cash every day. What a guy!

I like to meet up with friends for lunch on the resort or in town. I've got a couple of invitations but every weekday is marked with volunteers, and I am the backup for every one of them. When you're dealing with seniors, you never know when a doctor's appointment will crop up. So I'm living in a state of uncertainty about exactly what time will be my own.

I have worked on the book and the Rosetta Stone Spanish for about one hour each in the last two weeks.

This is not what I had in mind for meaningful volunteer work in Tucson. However, it's got its benefits. I'm meeting new people, resurrecting my organizational and planning skills from when I Worked For Money, and analyzing worksheets to see what mistakes are being made by the volunteers (seven errors out of 250 transactions isn't too bad). People know my name even when I have no idea who they are (good thing we all wear name badges to identify ourselves as residents!) In the first two weeks, we have sold about a third of all available tickets. The Voyager Light Opera Company is solvent. These are all good things and I'm glad for the part I'm playing.

I'm grateful to have my old license plate frame. It reminds me that I shouldn't be making too many plans, because they may change big time.


DJan said...

It sounds to me like between you and Art, it's a good deal for everybody! It does sound like you're awfully busy, though. Sorry you got sick and hope you're back to full functioning! :-)

Terra said...

That is a great license plate holder motto, and it sounds like you are enjoying your unexpected volunteer niche.

Linda Reeder said...

It's so like you to turn something that could have been a hassle into something you are actually enjoying. And thank goodness for Art!

Tom said...

It seems like, once again, Art comes to the rescue! Hope you're all better now, and ready to bust out all over!

Olga said...

Maybe not what you had in mind, but it is great that you can both just kind of go with the flow.

#1Nana said...

Yep, sometimes it's hard to see the "meaningful" in what we do as volunteers. I have to trust the universe that I'm where I'm supposed to be and that it will all work out in the end. My gig at the warming center seems to teach me more about compassion and gratitude than I offer in return. I had great plans to change the world, but then I didn't win the lottery!

Perpetua said...

You and Art are certainly going to wear out, not rust, Linda! Sorry you've been ill, but well done for taking on this responsibility and dusting off your work skills. Nothing's ever wasted, is it?

b+ (Retire In Style Blog) said...

Oh my gosh Linda...God knows all about you and he is praying too. Be well!

I don't do anything much and I am never ill. Maybe getting sick is someone's way to telling you to rest!