Saturday, September 13, 2008

My snack bar shift

Our soccer league has an interesting way of drumming up volunteers: upon registering, the parent can choose to volunteer to help in some way, or pay an extra $20 fee. This kind of brings up the image of "mandatory volunteerism" which we might talk about some more later. But, it seems like a good method. Except it doesn't work. I learned today that only about half of the people who volunteer to work actually do anything.

I had signed up to work in the snack bar rather than help with field setup and takedown, since setup happens about 7 am. I can handle the stress of selling candy and pop. (Side note: I was asked today if I was from Pittsburgh because I said "pop" instead of soda. I said no, but that I was born in Buffalo. People always nod knowingly when I say that. Since I haven't been to Buffalo since 1982 I am not sure what that means.) The first week of the season I received email asking all the people who'd volunteered for snack bar duty to sign up for their choice of days and times. The time commitment is a 2-hour shift, just one. Not bad for saving $20. No discounts or freebies at the snack bar, though.

'Tis a good thing I am not in charge of running the snack bar; it seems impossible to me how anyone can predict how many hot dogs to put on the roller-cooker-thing, or how many of each color of Gatorade to put in the fridge. This snack bar did have one up on the Little League's; at least here only one person handles unwrapped food, and that person does not handle money! And, there is no icky pot of orange cheeze substance for nachos. I suspected that the crockpot of orange cheeze just gets refilled when it runs low, but never actually emptied... but I digress. All in all, this was a clean snack bar.

But, I am a big policy-and-procedure geek from way back, and I just cannot help but think about writing policies and procedures for any organization that I observe. It's a sickness. So if I ruled the snack bar world... my rules (beyond having separate money- and food-handlers) would be.

1. No children under 10 (maybe 12) in the snack bar.

2. No balls in the snack bar.

3. No cell phone chatting.

4. Employees/volunteers who want to carry on extended chats with customers need to ask them to step aside and stop blocking the entire counter area from the customers behind them.

5. The snack bar is not the place to teach your children how to make change, particularly if they have to be told that "the quarter is the big one." (See number 1.)

Really, the place was crawling with children kicking soccer balls around. OK, just 2, but in a tiny space when one has to dodge soccer balls while adding up the cost of 2 Gatorades, 3 hot dogs and 4 hot pretzels, oh and how much are the red skittles and are the blue ones cheaper... it seems like more.

One of the kids was 7, didn't know the different coins, and couldn't reach the counter, but her mother decided she could help anyway. Her 10-12ish year old brother was "helping" too. Mostly these two helped by kicking and tossing the soccer ball around, nagging mom for sweets and fighting over whose turn it was to get a drink out of the fridge for the customer that someone other than their mom was helping. She rarely actually helped anyone but spent most of her time talking on her cellphone while sitting on the cooler, making it difficult to get at the extra bottles of purple Gatorade, which was apparently the color du jour, based on the requests. AND PLUS (I am trying to get my sister the grammar nazi to read and comment here) she was talking on the cell phone in a foreign language and laughing... so I know she was talking about all of us schmucks who were actually doing some snack bar-related work while she chatted and made pedicure appointments (I'm just speculating on the pedicure part).

Well, my two-hour shift dragged by and I was free. Now I have the rest of the season to enjoy my girl's games and avoid the snack bar. Oh, I do have team snack duty later this month. (Yes, not only do kids have the opportunity to buy snacks, but they get a free snack as well!) I hope I can come up with a snack to outdo this week's: Dunkin' Donuts for all!

Next: deadbeat parents who don't fulfill their volunteer obligations and what do to about them.


Sandy said...

We have that mandatory volunteerism in Scouts this year. One parent from each family has to volunteer at least five hours. That's not much and I understand they need lots of adults if the boys are going to do lots of things. Still, something doesn't seem quite right about it to me. Maybe it's because we aren't actually volunteering, but rather are being drafted. It was hard enough for me to add something else to my schedule; I'm concerned about the single moms in our pack who weren't consulted about this ahead of time. I'm guessing they don't need one more mandatory thing to do. I'm not sure we should assume all parents can volunteer, even for just five hours. There was no alternative. I'm not sure what happens to parents who don't volunteer, I'm guessing nothing. Personally, I signed up to chair the Blue and Gold banquet. Like any good leader I'm going to delegate the work to the moms who were drafted, I mean, volunteered to help me. Should be fun volunteerism for all.

SmallWorld at Home said...

I'll be interested to hear what you have to say about the deadbeat volunteers.

Now speaking as someone who NEEDS volunteers...this is what we ask in American Heritage Girls: that parents volunteer at one (out of 2) meetings per month. They can work on the playground, nursery, or with clean-up. The other week they are free to go do whatever. IF a parent absolutely cannot help out, we ask them to help out at a special event--at a banquet, for example--or to do a special project (like head up Operation Christmas Child). We do have some parents who never do anything, but we sure do appreciate the ones who are conscientious about their commitment!

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