Sunday, July 03, 2011

Just tired out.

You know, I think eventually there's going to be a mass "shrug" in the American public. Maybe not the kind Ayn Rand wrote of, so much, but a "shrug" on the part of the people who are responsible, who do what they say they will, who are "always there" and wind up picking up the slack for everyone else.

I'm tired. I spent most of the weekend involved with various volunteer projects. I baked cookies (three batches!) for a reception. I stood and ladled out punch at the same reception.

(An aside: people are nuts, you know that? This was a free patriotic concert with free reception afterward. Donations were not asked for nor collected. And people got all shirty and rude when we ran low on punch. I was standing there waiting for the kitchen ladies to get back out with the fresh batch and I had people complaining at me about them being out of punch. And I had one lady - when I was trying very hard to get caught up on providing punch, ESPECIALLY for the choir members who were parched after singing for an hour - this lady, who was not in the choir, came 'round the other side of the table and kind of snapped at me, "Well, can we GET punch from THIS side or is THIS side for people drinking WATER only?" (We also had ice water out for people who didn't want punch.) And I just looked at her like, lady, don't start with me. Don't goad me into saying something I should not say in a church. I gave her her punch and she didn't thank me. People are crazy and it's hard for me to love them the way Jesus said I should.)

Anyway, this morning, I was looking forward (after teaching Sunday school) to just sitting in church and being a worshipper. And not having other responsibilities.


As some of you know, I'm an elder. I've been one since, I don't know, 2006 or something. I was off the official board for a while, but I still did elder stuff.

So the usher comes up to me and says, "Joe Mama was supposed to elder today but I don't see him here. Can you fill in?"

Okay, I know where Joe Mama was. Because he was going out there yesterday and his wife said he was going again today. He was out fishing.

I said yes. I didn't have much choice; the only other elder I saw in the congregation at that moment was the other person on duty that day. So I said yes.

It's not that I mind filling in, so much...I've had people call me up on a Friday or a Saturday and say, "I know I was supposed to serve at the table this week, but I came down with a stomach virus and probably shouldn't be up there." or "My mom is sick again, I'd really like to go and help her."

In cases like that, I'm happy to fill in. Once in a while, if I'm scheduled while I'm traveling, I can get payback from those people. (In fact, one of the guys caught me last night at the reception and asked me if I could do it for him in a couple weeks. I said yes, and then said, "Will you be in town on the 31st?" and he said yes, that he'd take my time then.)

But I'm getting a little fed up with people just NOT showing, and me getting tapped. It seems like I do this at least once, and sometimes twice, a month, at times when I'm not otherwise on duty. I've only said "no" once, and that was when I was having throat problems and had a badly pulled shoulder (the trays of the communion cups are HEAVY).

I'd raise the issue at the next elder's meeting about "Hey, if you can't be on duty on a day when you're scheduled, could you please CALL someone and find a replacement beforehand?" but (a) the head of the elders is someone who might take that as a personal attack, even though I've known him to call when he couldn't be there...there's some sensitive stuff going on and (b) the people who really need to hear it probably won't be at the meeting.

But it frustrates me. Oh, I'm okay at coming up spontaneously with a prayer (it's a lot easier on days like today, when we have some kind of a "theme" to hang on to). But you know? I get TIRED of it. Really, really tired. And I feel taken advantage of, especially today, especially by this person. (I suspect he actually didn't check the schedule to see that he was on, but still: is it too much to ask that people check the schedule?)

And I know. I know, that's the wrong attitude and it's unChristian and selfish and all. But I think it's also kind of selfish for people to just skip their turn and expect that someone else will cover for them. We're a community, and people are supposed to pull their weight in a community, not sit back and let a few people take care of stuff.

I don't know. I like helping out, I like feeling like I can contribute, but there comes a point where I'd like to see other people step up and do something. It seems unfair to me to always be the "fill in person" simply because I make it a habit of being in church every single Sunday.

I think the woman who was in charge of the reception - incidentally, the woman who expressed earlier frustration at "volunteers not coming through" - is aware of my frustration at always being tapped, because she came up and thanked me personally for helping out at the reception. And I was happy to do that, because I know it was hard for her to find people who were free at that time - several of the other women who could have done it have crazy ugly work schedules (one is, I think, a dispatcher for the fire department, and another works retail, and another works at a local Indian casino, and they get called in at bad times, like Saturday evenings). But I also admit I get tired of being the "George" who is always expected to do whatever.

I don't mind being asked to help at the reception - in fact, I actually volunteered, because I knew I had the time to do it and I know that other people couldn't. What I do mind is the expectation that people seem to have that I will jump up and do other people's duty when they slack off. And sometimes I wonder if my willingness to volunteer to do certain things plants the idea in people's minds that I'm just there, waiting to be told what to do.

I mean, I guess I should be happy that I can contribute to having things be a success...but I wish I didn't feel like I had to so much. I don't know whether to bring it up to the minister (though I suspect his reaction might be leavened with a healthy dose of "suck it up") or whether to simply say I don't want to elder any more the next time my term ends.

Perhaps I need to say "no" more to things so people don't automatically expect I will say "yes." That makes me sad, because I really DON'T want to turn down doing things I could do that I want to do...but sometimes I think people maybe take a little advantage of my good nature.


TheBoopanatorChronicles said...

I have noticed alot of people have become impatient and more or less rude to others who show kindness and charity. It makes you wonder if people have forgotten how to be human.

Dave E. said...

Well, as a society we seem to be training people to be that way. Half the nation doesn't pay income tax at all. It seems now that often their response to those who do, instead of a thank you or even just silence, is to vilify those people and demand even more. Apparently that is some sort of progress in some quarters.