Yesterday, despite it being Saturday, did not feel like much of a break! It was, however, a change of pace from usual Monday-Friday schtick, to which I'll happily return tomorrow! To give some background, I've been a lackluster member of a "triathlon" club since January, attending the occasional run and on an even rarer basis doing something like an open-water swim or a bike ride with a group. Despite my limited participation, when they were looking for volunteers to help raise money, I thought "Oh, why not". The money will go to the Challenged Athletes Foundation and probably a local food bank, so this is all for a cool cause. I did not love the idea of spending most of a Saturday at a UCLA football game helping to man (or woman?!) a concession stand, but they needed volunteers so I signed up!
Knowing the WHY did help me rouse myself out of bed on Saturday morning - after a fun night out, which made the getting up even more difficult - so that I could meet up with the volunteer group. We all looked quite professional in that food-service-sort-of-way: black pants and a white-collared shirt. Once we put on a black apron and and a hat, our transformation was complete! I won't go into the details - much of the day reminded me of some of the stereotypes I have of the military - fairly bureaucratic, and not very efficient with a "hurry up and wait" mindset. The company that "generously" allows groups to earn money was fairly incompetent - we were supposed to have cash registers, but the company did not give them to us. They did give us calculators - none of which worked, so all of the people working the registers needed to rely on old-fashioned mental arithmetic. This would have been a royal pain, but at the very least every item was a dollar amount. You know, five dollars for a coke, five dollars for a hot dog, seven dollars for nachos, six dollars for water. The prices were, of course, ridiculous, and my favorite part of the day was the fact that customers complained to us about the price point. As if we were owners of the concession stand? Couldn't they tell that we were doing not much more than menial labor? (I don't mean to belittle the food service industry - this was definitely not high-end stuff and it wasn't a challenging task.) About Sodexo, the company that actually does own the concession stands, I was more than happy to help out the club and raise money for a good cause or two, but it did bother me that I was helping this company earn a huge profit margin because they were obviously not paying us jack shit! I'm very skeptical about their fair labor practices. We were just volunteers, and they stipulated what we could eat - one soft drink, one bottle of water and one hotdog! Despite the fact that watching the food prep all day totally grossed me out, I was more than happy to scarf down the hot dog. Probably the worst part of the day was the clean-up - at that point, I was hot and tired (we all were) and ready to go home, and having to account for all of the hotdogs and hamburgers that we made but didn't sell was quite depressing. Also, the "cheese" that accompanies the nachos is one of the most disgusting non-food processed items that is sold as food that I've ever seen in my life, and trying to clean it up when you don't have soap, water or a rag/sponge is a Sisyphean task!
Fortunately, we were out of there at 4:00, like they had promised, which came as a relief. The other major relief for me was that I didn't see any of my students or any of my students' parents while I was serving this terrible food and swindling people out of their money as they paid too much for everything. It wouldn't have been the worst moment of my life, and I've certainly seen students outside of the confines of the school yard, however I always think about that moment from the movie Mean Girls when some students see Tina Fey's character who is working at the mall and one of them says "Oh, I love seeing teachers outside of school. It's like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs."
So, not my "ideal" Saturday, but it was a good experience. It does make me appreciate that I work at a place that I like, where I can dress more or less as I choose (as long as I look presentable), and where I'm treated with dignity, on the whole. I'm glad that I did my part, but everyone carpooling back agreed that we don't need to do that again this season!