Sunday, October 21, 2012

old people and kids

Some devoted blog followers have asked about the disappearance of stories in the popular blog category "old people."  There is a reason for this -- I've stopped volunteering with Aging Services, so I no longer hang out with the grumpy old lady I used to take shopping every Saturday. 

We had a falling out after I tried to support a store clerk in an argument about the meaning of "buy one, get the second 50% off."  The old person thought the store clerk was trying to rip her off by charging full price for the single pair of eyeglasses the old person wanted to buy.  My attempts to explain that she needed to buy a second pair to take advantage of the deal were unavailing, and she was still grumbling about my collusion with the dishonest store clerk when we finally made it out of the store thirty minutes later.

The next week, I received an email from the volunteer coordinator asking to meet with me.  She said my old person was complaining that I had tried to force her to buy a second pair of glasses she didn't want to buy, and the volunteer coordinator wanted to hear my side of the story.  After I explained it to her, she said that she would just take volunteer services away from my old person for a while.  She told me that I could either switch to a different old person, or I could take a break until I felt like coming back.

I happily took the break -- and then I decided to make the break permanent.  I realized, you see, that this was a very bad volunteering option for me.  I don't like driving, I don't like shopping, and I don't like old people.  [Well, in theory they're fine, but when they're perpetually grumpy and confused and racist and ignorant, I have a hard time exercising the necessary patience with them.]  Probably I should have realized this before I agreed to drive an old person on shopping expeditions every week.

I've now started volunteering with an organization that will hopefully be a better fit for me -- a group that provides tutoring help for kids in refugee families living here in Salt Lake.  It's also challenging, but I enjoy working with kids more than adults.  They're funny in different ways.  Take, for example, this peculiar conversation I had two weeks ago (sorry, facebook friends, for the repeat):
Girl: Do you get mad at kids?
Me: No, I don't get mad at kids.
Girl: How about if I jab this pencil into your eye?
Me: Well, that actually might make me mad. But let's not test it out.
Girl: You're so weird sometimes.
Last week this girl decided to switch tactics and go with bribery instead of treats:  "If I give you this Skittle, will you finish my math homework for me?"  I told her, "Sorry, kiddo, but I want you to learn long division a lot more than I want a Skittle."  This clearly reconfirmed her previous opinion of my baffling weirdness.

So, no more old people, but I'm happy volunteering with my refugee kids instead.

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