So, you know that I was in charge of food for my girls’ band’s senior night, which the junior class hosts. Obviously, feeding 400 people after a football game is a big undertaking. But as the night wore on (and on and on; I ended up leaving at 2 a.m.), and most of the actual tasks were as completed as possible, I found myself observing more and more.
- I watched the worker who showed up without fanfare, wearing a sweatshirt that didn’t even promote the band (band ones are pretty expensive). She left to watch the band perform at halftime — well, she tried. She came back when she learned that she’d have to pay $5 to get in to see the performance, so she turned around and kept helping instead. When the coffee machine made odd noises, she just smiled and said that things were going fine and would work out great (she was right).
- I watched the dad who came in and said, “What’s the worst, ickiest job that you hate? That’s what I want to do!” with a big smile. Actually, I was kind of wanting to take him home.
- I watched the kids swarm in to eat, happy and full of youthful energy. I waited, yet not one said thank you (to me — they may have thanked others). I reflected that my record here was worse than Jesus with the ten lepers. To be fair, I admit that eating dinner doesn’t really compare to being healed of an awful disease, and yeah, there’s also the bit about that part of a teen’s brain that doesn’t finish up until years later, but still … It reminded me of an incident in my youth. I was in band too, and once one of the directors’ wives held a baby shower for a lady who helped us flag girls. I went to the shower and enjoyed it. The next day, the director called us over and said, My wife worked really hard to plan that shower, and do you know how many of you said Thank You? NONE! I remember thinking, hey, I did, and then thinking … uh oh. I guess I didn’t. Well, I remember THINKING I would say thanks … It’s a moment I’ve always remembered, and I hope it has prompted me to show more gratitude in the intervening years. I volunteer mainly out of a sense of duty, but when others show gratitude, that’s when it becomes enjoyable.
- I watched the head of the whole event trotting around in her jeweled, high-heeled sandals. She got in my face once, angry. Other times I observed her shaking her head, a grim look on her face, saying, “This is bad. This is bad.” If she had a single enjoyable moment during the entire evening, you could have fooled me.
It was interesting to observe a large group of people over a long, long night. The differences really stood out, because I was … watching. It gave me a lot to think about. You just never know when someone may be watching you.