For the past month and a half now, I’ve been working two days a week at the local non-profit thrift store as a volunteer. It gets me out of the house in wintertime and gives me something interesting to do, as well as serving as a social outlet.
Most of the other volunteers are women, who work inside the shop, while we men work out back doing the donation sorting and general heavy lifting. This keeps me out of the presence of the gals for the larger part of the day, which suits me fine, because I soon realized that they have their political stratas all defined between them that I don’t want to get in the middle of.
Since we all work for free, no one can really be considered the boss, as if anyone were to get too bossy the others would leave, and that would be the end of the thrift shop. So what they’ve done is divided up little areas of authority that never would have occurred to me, and they guard their little areas jealously. One person is in charge of how many hours each person has worked each month. Another is in charge of what days volunteers are assigned to work. Another is in charge of who gets their shop name tags printed and when. Each day has its own Day Leader who oversees the shop. So forth and so on.
Volunteers go through a short trial period before getting voted in as full member volunteers. They like to check people out to see if they steal stuff or don’t get along with others, or smell bad or whatever. I was told that I was getting voted in by my day leader for one of my workdays, and that I should go get my name tag made at this place in a nearby little town. I asked her twice if she was sure, since I hadn’t been voted in yet, and she assured me that Yes, I should. So the next day I stopped into the shop to get my directions to the tag making place refreshed, since I’m still very unfamiliar with the area, and was told that I was NOT supposed to get my tag made yet, and was asked who said I should. So I named the person, thinking nothing of it, and boy, did those hens start squawking about who had the authority to do that and who didn’t.
So today this gal showed up, told me I got her in trouble, and that I misunderstood, that she never said to get my tag made before being voted in.
Ah boy. Okay, I said yeah, I must not have gotten the drift, and let it go. But you know, this is exactly what I posted about the other day, about self esteem. I could see she was embarassed with her lie, and she should be. She just made herself look worse in her own eyes, and you know, bottom line is that it’s our own opinion of ourself that matters most to us. She also made herself a lesser person to me. Now I know that she would rather lie than to simply say, “Yes, I told him that, I didn’t think it would matter since we know he’s getting voted in anyway”. Because that’s exactly why she did tell me that, and then she lied rather than take such a simple little bit of responsibility for such a minor thing. The adjectives “venal” and ‘shallow” come to mind.
I still like her alright. She’s just weak when it comes to standing up for herself, and anyway, now I have a deeper understanding of one of my co-workers. Trust comes in many levels.
There’s between 6 and 8 of us there each day, and I’m in no rush to learn the mindsets of all the others. I’m just there for the exercise, as I tell them, not for the politics. Being all volunteers, they mostly seem like pretty decent people, though a few so far aren’t ones I’d want to take on a camping trip. I think it’s going to get better as it goes.