I’m an active member of my community. If a volunteer opportunity presents itself, I seize it. My google calendar frequently resembles a stained glass window, but I enjoy contributing to the proverbial “greater good.” So here’s my current conundrum.
Several months ago I was approached by a “friend” who wanted advice on promoting an event. This pal of mine is not terribly good at promotions. He doesn’t fully grasp how to maximize social media platforms, his writing is bland, and his aesthetic is quite muddled. I want his recent undertaking to be successful, so I gave my two-cents. I also said, “Please let me know about [this charity’s] upcoming events. I’m a great party planner, I’m a killer guest bartender, I am a worker. I will gladly pitch in to help get more attention to this cause.”
“Great! You bet! Talk to you soon.”
The silence that followed was deafening. Not only did I not hear back from Peter, his online gobbeldy-gook continued in addition to employing ALL of the ideas I pitched to him. Shortly thereafter I ran into a mutual friend who is also part of the organization, expressed my desire to get involved in “the cause,” and was met with a polite, “Great! I’m sure your talents can be utilized somewhere.” That was on April 15th. Yesterday I received a disastrous invitation to the charity’s next fundraising event and, after obsessing for a solid fifteen minutes, was flushed with anger. (I concede that my anger may be a bit over the top, annoyance would have sufficed; I’m dramatic AND a Pisces.) Here is my thought process upon opening the invitation:
1- Great! I’ll see if I am available.
2- I wonder what to wear.
3- Wait. I offered to do this.
4- I offered to help with this.
5- Why is the graphic on this invitation so pixilated?
6- What time does it start? Why doesn’t it say what time it starts? Or how much it is?
7- Is this for real?
8- Why didn’t he just call me?
9- I’m not going. Screw that. I’ll send a donation to the generic donation address.
10- What. The. Fuck.
I obsessed for another fifteen minutes and curbed the desire to call Joe and bitch to him about it. He’d say, “You’re off the hook. One less thing to do.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. Good point. Not MY point, however.
In Peter’s exclusion and blatant ignoring of my offer, I felt shunned. I wasn’t questioning my talents or what they could do in terms of helping raise essential funds for a small charity: I know I am useful. I wasn’t balking at not being asked to do for free what I regularly get paid for: those words don’t even make sense all strung together. I was being plain old left out with not one but TWO recent and polite acceptances of my offer. I sought an answer via iMessage.
JKD: Hey! Got your invite. What’s up? What do you need? What can I do?
PTJ: Hey yourself! Not so much. Nada. I think we r set.
JKD: Kk… So can I be bratty and ask you something?
PTJ: Shoot. Brat. Lol
JKD: Is it that you don’t need MY help? ‘Cause I’m letting my feelings get hurt that I keep offering to help and you keep sort of accepting the help and then not really accepting it.
[Here appeared the dreadful “…” as he was allegedly typing a reply and I was staring at the poor iPhone6 so hard my eyes watered.]
JKD: I promise I’m not like “end our friendship” mad. I’m just confused and don’t want there to be “stuff” between us.
PTJ: Nah it’s cool. I know you want to help. And that’s awesome. It’s just that…
PTJ: Idk. It would be easier if you were married.
JKD: Haha. Very funny.
PTJ: It’s really hard to have you help with something that’s all couples.
I didn’t reply. I don’t have a reply. I don’t think his answer makes sense, particularly now that I’ve obsessed about it on-and-off for 20 hours. Try as I have to wrap my brain around this last message, I can’t. CAN. NOT. I’ve explored lots of possibilities and will not settle on one and have now taken to writing about it in an effort to release the demons.
What I hope: they really are set and have all the volunteers and donations and lists and logistics ready for the event.
What I fear: I suck at everything and no one wants me to “help,” lest I muck it up.
What I’d be okay with: The hierarchy is threatened. Have you ever noticed that sometimes when someone does something really well, some folks get nasty and defensive? I’m [not so secretly because it’s on the internet] hoping that the three paid employees and five member board that head up this organization’s efforts are worried that their positions would be endangered by Juliet coming in and working as a volunteer. I get that. I don’t agree with it, but I get it.
What I suspect: One of the more established volunteers doesn’t like me so I’m out.
What I also suspect that sounds crazy when I talk about it: I’m a threat. I’m the very-single-very-attached wild card at any party. I’ve been in a domestic partnership with the cutest of boys for 11.25 years. We’ve co-habitated for 11 years. We have lots of shared interests, but many more separate ones. Typically, I attend functions alone. There have been times when this does not sit well with “friends,” particularly women. I talk, I drink, I banter, I can be (well….I am almost always) a tad entertaining, I laugh. I have fun and I leave. There are no double dates planned, no couples’ vacations to anticipate, no dinners for multiples of two. I’m me and I go home to my Joe. From a particular perspective, I’m a reasonably attractive, reasonably talented, single woman. Clearly I must be trolling for all the other ladies’ partners, right?
I told you it sounded crazy.
So, I’m no closer to feeling better. Small town social politics are tough. Maybe it really is just one person that doesn’t like me and it’s easier for the group to acquiesce and keep me as a donor, not a volunteer. Maybe I’m labeled a man-stealer as I approach middle-age. Maybe I’m just not aggressive enough and not on the radar of the group overall. Hopefully I stop pouting, attend the event, have four glasses of wine, and interrogate Peter et al when the truth is likely to come out. En vino veritas, etc, etc, etc.