Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stick a Flag In It

I'm about to tell someone to stick a flag in it.

I'm the orchestra rep for the Fine Arts Boosters at Oldest Daughter's high school.  Besides the obvious bad choice to represent ANYTHING that has the word "fine" in it (other than Fine Cut Cocaine, Fine Piece of Ass, or Library Fine) the fine people on Fine Arts Boosters have obviously not heard from our elementary school how disorganized I am and moved ahead with their choice anyway.

(NOTE to the 17 Mandatory Reporters who read this blog - I do not, nor have I ever done, cocaine.  I did drink Diet Coke addictively, but quit two months ago. I once had a fine ass, and I have been slapped with library fines, but I don't believe that was since my Nancy Drew days in the 70's.)

As part of the requirement of being a rep on Fine Arts Boosters, one has to be in charge of putting flags up around the Quad Cities for the local Optimist's Club.  I did the flags on Veteran's Day last fall, so I thought, "How hard can it be?"  But I wasn't in charge last fall, I was just a regular volunteer.  If I am in your volunteer/non-profit/service organization, for the love of GOD, do not let me be in charge.  I am a big idea person, not an organization person.  I'm the "let's get a 9 foot Christmas tree!" with 8 foot ceilings and a VW Jetta for transport on December 22.

Somehow I did manage to get volunteers to help.  I did get the Activites Director to give me the keys to the high school cargo van on Friday.  I did contact the Optimist Club guy in charge of flags ahead of time.  I did NOT mapquest the address, and realized that on Sunday evening as Current Husband was driving the cargo van to get 87 flags and said, "Where do I turn?"

Um.  Wherever Tremont crosses 53rd Avenue?  And then to some storage unit north of that?  But step on it, cabby, we need to be there in 10 minutes.

CH looked at me adoringly, and said, "WTF, Julie, you didn't get the address?"  I got the particular storage UNIT, I just didn't get the street address or general vicinity in the Quad Cities, with a metro population of over 300,000.  How far could it be?

After a few panicky phone calls, I located the storage unit.  We got our 87 flags loaded and were given vague instructions and some maps.  We left, parked the van, and went home until the alarm went off at 5 a.m. on Monday, when I hit snooze and groaned, "WHY!?!? One of my precious days off work, WHY DID I VOLUNTEER TO DO THIS!?!"  We woke up entire family and drove to parking lot to act cheerful and enthusiastic when other volunteers showed up.  One bitched at me because I didn't make more than 2 copies of the maps, and said that he would've had everyone at the school at 5 to leave at 5:30.  I smiled and said, "Next time you are SO in charge of this, I will happily be your minion!"  I don't offer up minionship lightly, but what the hell?  You get what you pay for, dude.  Isn't this about being an AMERICAN?

We gave everyone a sugar donut and some methamphetamene and left.  It's actually a little bit fun to be out at dawn, sneaking into people's yards, and instead of rolls of unspooled toilet paper, we're leaving flags.  Surprise!  You're patriotic!  They paid for it, so not that surprising, but I like to tell myself it's a random act of flagging.  And really, the American flag is pretty kick-ass, and it's awesome to see them lined up along the streets.  It felt like a good deed.  God Bless America, indeed.
 Oldest Daughter, patriotically vadalizing people.

Then, at 6 p.m., just before we were set to go back out and collect the flags, the sirens went off for a thunderstorm warning.  Shit on a Wheat Thin.  The rules on this were not specific.  If it is raining, do we collect flags?  I saw lightening - technically, I think we are liable if someone is tragically electrocuted while volunteering for me.  Call off the volunteers!

Wait.  Thunderstorm has passed over.  Warning has been lifted, it was only rain.  Call back the volunteers!  We head out on the town, and collect the flags, even though they are a little wet.  Damp, really.  And they're made of nylon, how bad can it be?  Well, bad enough that after an hour of picking up and rolling flags, the Optimists reject us at the Home Base storage unit.  REJECTED!  A real Optimist would think, "I'm sure these flags will dry!" We had to drive the school cargo van with our 87 damp flags back to the school.

For those playing along at home: 
87 damp flags don't dry in a closed van over 24 hours.

I called Rod the Optimist.  He made it VERY clear on the phone that if the flags are not 100% dry, they will not take them back.  Well THAT'S not very optimistic.  I said, "Okay, thanks!" politely on the phone, hung up, and thought, "Where the fuck do you think I'm going to unfurl 87 flags to dry, ROD?  I have a job!  Memorial Day is OVER!  The school wants their cargo van back!"

CH and I drove to the school and checked the flags at 5 p.m. tonight.  Nope.  Not dry.  This is where things really went south, because CH and I were on different paths here.  I was on my normal, passive aggressive "we are in charge, so we have to get the flags dry, I don't like it either" and CH was all "Optimists run the program, this is their problem, they should be clearer on their take-down instructions in bad weather."  We explain our differing positions in tense, adult voices.  We stare at each other in silence.  I open the cargo van and start taking flags out to line up along the high school tennis court fences.  CH stares at me and starts muttering about how this is so much bullshit, his volunteer shift ended 24 hours earlier.  I respond in an intelligent and mature way - I cry.  I'm not a big crier, so CH was kind of stunned.  He's not exactly sure what to do with me in that state, so he got very quiet and helped.  I should definitely cry more often.

The Son, as our family unfurled, dried, and re-furled 87 flags tonight.
Because who likes personal time?  Not us!

I'm now taking some personal time off work at lunch tomorrow so I can return the flags to the Optimists, and return the school cargo van before they call the police.  But the next time someone wants me to volunteer this summer?

They can stick a flag in it.

DISCLAIMER:  This blog in no way demeans the American flag or the raising or care of said flag.  This blog does not condone the use of cocaine or methamphetamine, or crying as an act of manipulation.  This blog does not encourage anyone to TP yards or steal the high school cargo van.  This blog does not imply that drinking an extremely large margarita on the rocks with salt is an appropriate way to end a school volunteer event, nor to start the next morning.  This blog does not promote the use of expired milk, and lists 'fisting' as a soft limit.


Pat said...

Try 2,998 flags. Over our next bottle of chardonnay I will fill you in. Meantime www.healingfieldcentraliowa.org. That event is why our HR department now keeps a straight jacket and Xanax in their office . . . . I'm a trailblazer that way.

Julie, The Wife said...

I saw your flag pics Pat, and honestly I thought of you that day and felt guilty about being irritated about the whole thing. At least your attitude about it is good!

Michelle said...

Love Love Love this post....and especially the disclaimers. Hilarious.
I'm a new follower (and excited to read some old posts)!

Julie, The Wife said...

Hello @Michelle! Welcome to the Wifers! I'm so glad that you "liked" the disclaimers and are not "contacting your attorney about" the disclaimers. Big relief. Thank you.

GrandeMocha said...

If anyone asks you to volunteer, show them this post.

I lost a kid on a field trip in kindergarten and haven't been asked on another field trip in 5 years. Yeah me!

Rhonda said...

I love this post and I adore your disclaimer. I am a great volunteer but I'm right with you on the big ideas poor execution part.

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