Sunday, September 28, 2008

Volunteering fail

I never did register anyone to vote yesterday. I got there 15 minutes early, paid my $5 parking fee and boldly marched in expecting to find a few voter registration types setting up a table near the door. I figured they'd be happy to have me there early to help out and that I'd be all super keen and register a ton of people. Only there wasn't anyone there that looked suitable.  I went up to the convention registration table, but no-one there had any idea that there were supposed to be any voter registration types. They suggested I walked around to see if I could find them.

I did. I couldn't. 

I talked to people with event staff t-shirts, I talked to the convention center staffers. I talked to pretty much anyone who was an adult and wasn't wearing an attendee badge for the other convention that was going on in the convention center at the time (Christians in Action - now there was a bit of a visual contradiction - teenagers and young adults walking around in full costume or in black, scowling and generally being angst-ridden and alternative, and people walking around with kids in matching khakis-and-white-shirts get-ups looking all squeaky clean and Christian. Not exactly two groups of people that mesh well together, methinks.)

Eventually, after a good 45 mins or so of looping around the convention center asking anyone if they knew where the voter registration volunteers were supposed to be, checking back in with the front desk on a regular basis, being sent off to the second floor, no, try the first floor, and generally getting pissed off, one of the event staffers told me that he'd spoken to Lynn (Lynn? Who?) who said that they HAD requested a voter registration group, had filled out all the forms, and that nothing had arrived, so some people had gone off to get all the necessary materials like the registration forms, and would be back at some point. And that there were a few other volunteers like me also wandering around looking for the desk. I sat down for a while, thinking I'd just wait for the damn people with the damn forms. Then I got up and spoke to the front desk people again, in case anyone had snuck in without my noticing but no, the front desk people said they hadn't and that I may as well go away and come back later.

Given that I didn't want to pay the parking fee again I went across the street to Starbucks so I could sit down and rest my aching back, but couldn't help myself getting more and more pissed off at the bad organization. And feeling that I'd feel like a bit of a fool going up to kids who'd seen me walking around like 10 times already looking lost. But, I figured it was my duty, I'd volunteered, and I'd just get out there and do it. So I duly walked back over to the convention center, made one more loop around everything, still couldn't find the fuckers (and at that point, I'd been hanging around for 1 hr and 50 minutes) and finally stomped off in a huff to go home and have some lunch.

There. That was my brilliant volunteering attempt. Not exactly a successful day!

But it was kind of fun seeing the costumes. And that self-conscious way kids have of walking around hoping everyone will notice them but equally hoping that nobody will notice them. Some of them looked really good even though I didn't recognize the characters, although some looked familiar. 

Not so fun noticing the real misfits who presumably latch on to anything like that just so their weirdness will somehow blend in (only of course it doesn't really). Two of the attendees I saw there reminded me of people I have come across over the years who just use a cover of an "alternative" lifestyle as a ruse for being upsetting and behaving badly towards others. It was not a nice moment recognition for me. And they seemed to be older than the majority too - I'd guess mid- to late-twenties rather than late teens to early-twenties. Oh well, I guess it takes all sorts to make the world and we can't protect kids from everyone. Not that these people were doing anything wrong, I hasten to add. I would have done something if they had been. It's just that, well, there's that malevolent or unsettled energy about them that I recognized. It didn't sit well with me. Most of the kids were just sweet, though, even though I'm sure they'd be horrified to be described as such!


Almamay said...

Typical student non-organisation. It's not you. It's just students.

Tina said...

Nah, it's not anything you did wrong, but that has been my experience with volunteering. It's disorganized and such.


calliope said...

oh man! How annoying. Maybe there will be another chance for you to help rock the vote. Move on has some good (& organized) things to least they are always sending me e-mails about stuff!

(& now I feel left out that my icon isn't a kitty!)