Monday, 8 February 2010

Please Don't Volunteer

I now work at a charity shop. I say work, that implies you are paid. I am a selfless, altruistic and praiseworthy volunteer. Feel free to knock down commemoratory statues of Mother Teresa and build shrines in my honour. They are long overdue. I can't pretend it's all out of the goodness of my heart though. First dibs on ladies' blouses and 90s dance CDs? I'm so there, as the kids might say.

I went on Saturday, rolled out of bed only recently, and found it to be a lot more enjoyable than I had anticipated. People, young and old...mainly old, were friendly and time went quickly as I sorted through cat-hair clothing and assorted bric a brac. Also I get to use a till. The novelty of using a till has never worn off. It's not fancy touchscreen, and I don't get a swipe card. We're talking old school tills, but nevertheless it will do for my fun.

But oh dear. Oh dear oh dear Monday afternoon in a Save The Children shop. Volunteerism, as I understand it, works like the proverb about the buses. And today, after pleas for volunteers, we all appear to have arrived at once. So we were there: Elaine, Orlean (A French exchange student on what must be the most tedious work experience she could have imagined), Freda, Jean and me. Like the power-rangers, except 4/5 dressed in Dororthy Perkins and Gimbles get-up. (I of course was in the Red Ranger outfit, he being the most enviable one of the group). Ready, Set...Well, Go would be a push. More stand around for 3 hours whilst Freda regaled us with annecdotes and stories so uninteresting they could be used as a punishment for young deviants. But I shouldn't grumble: Jeanie is a bit of a peach really, and Elaine has the habit of calling you "sweetheart" after every clause in every sentence, which surprisingly doesn't really lose its warmth or sincerity.

The highlight of my day was watching a Spanish man enthusiastically ask me for his opinion on the coat he was trying on. (He may have been Spanish, or Iranian, or Greek, I'll be honest I don't have the foggiest. I am only certain he was not from France. I've got that accent down to a tee. Ask me at your next cocktail social.) I returned with gusto. It suited him very well I informed him. He paid me for the coat. A handsome salesman I clearly am. Wasted in that shop. Writing about self in third person never a good sign. Nor is missing out words in diary style and writing like some sort of Bridget Jones. Must lose weight, meet man of dreams and advance in job whilst avoiding phone calls from mother.


Sorry. I've gone a little mad. Anyway, my point was: don't go mad with the volunteering thing. Sure, do it. But don't all do it. If a few of you do it, you can spend a few hours restacking shelves, pricing things and sorting donations into relevant piles (keep and display, or what-the-fuck-is-that-pile-of-monstrosity-and-I-don't-even-want-to-know-what-that-stain-is). But when too many people do it, you just sit there listening to people compare the most economical and grandchild-friendly Sunday carvery to be found in Stannington. And fun that is not.

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