Volunteering–Be Careful What You Ask For.

This weekend was pretty quiet, what with the Dawgs having a much needed bye week before meeting the disgraced Tennessee Volunteers of ObKnoxville this coming Saturday “Between the Hedges“.   Still all the drama of the weekend came as a result of volunteering, with valuable lessons to be had from all the experience.

First off, Hubby had to work on Saturday.  He’s got two projects going on, one being a major update to his employer’s website.   That one went pretty smoothly, excepting for the usual clash of egos among the developers.

It’s the other Saturday project that provided the real drama.  Web developers from all over the local area were asked to volunteer in order to band together to make Web sites of various non-profit groups accessible to the blind.  Seeing an opportunity to provide a service while gaining some state-of-the-art street cred was something Hubby couldn’t pass up.

They’ve treated him pretty well, too, springing for a very rare opportunity to get some high-end training (this one was local; too bad he couldn’t have gone to the last class of this type offered–in Turin, Italy last year), and some nice experiences such as going (on their dime) to a local drafthouse theatre to view a film with access to a closed-circuit audio set for the blind that describes non-verbal action.  Things were pretty peachy until the volunteers got assigned to their groups.  Hubby got assigned a non-profit named for (and also dedicated to) a pagan fertility goddess that provides “services” to inner-city high schoolers.  “Services,” my *–more like a “how-to.”  I don’t think I have to tell you what.  The need to maintain a level of anonymity precludes my adding a link.  These people are anathema to everything for which we stand.

Hubby cannot, in good conscience, continue to do work that would promote these people and their “mission.”  Believe what you will, but we believe that one day we will have to answer to our Maker for the things we do.  Yes, we are forgiven, but it doesn’t mean we won’t have to explain ourselves.  As Hubby put it “God is my friend.  Why would I do this [allow a pagan deity to be glorified through Hubby’s work] to Him?”  Hubby knows in this liberal headquarters of the state, he will catch Hell for bowing out, but at the end of the day, we have to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror.  If he kept on, he wouldn’t be able.

  • The lesson here–know exactly what you’re getting into before raising your hand.

Then there’s my daughter “Ladybug”‘s experience this weekend.  This year, having moved from a 3A school to a 5A, she has had a world of new opportunities open up.  One of these is joining the school’s Debate team.  When I was enrolling her this past summer, the counselor was going over the elective possibilities, when Debate came up.  That got Ladybug’s immediate attention:  “You mean I can argue in class and get credit?!?  Sign me up!!!!”  Sure enough, she and her partner won their first ever debate competition two weeks ago.  Ladybug is a natural at this, and has had a lifetime of experience exercising her will over her two brothers and manipulating Hubby and me to get her way.  Perhaps she’s genetically predisposed:  is it the Latina half, or is it the Scots stubbornness combined with Irish temper that comprises the other half?

Anyway, the team met at school at 4:00 (!) Saturday morning to head to the Dallas area for one of the two BIG debates of the year.  Ladybug’s team won their first two rounds easily, but went against the defending champions for Round III.  The judge (this type of competition has a single judge) didn’t even listen to the debate; he spent the whole time turned around talking to a lady in the audience!  When it came time to fill out his score card, he didn’t enter a SINGLE note! (Standard procedure is to write copious notes about each competitor’s strengths and weaknesses in each round).  As for scores, he gave what were clearly arbitrary numbers to each competitor, awarding the win to the defending champs and tagging Ladybug and her partner with a score just four points too few to snag second place.  The coach, Ladybug, and her partner were justifiably outraged, and Coach submitted a formal protest.  The damage, however, had been done.  According to witnesses, the only things the other team had going for them were:

  1. Reputation:  they earned a spot in the Nationals last year (although they had been unable for some reason to attend).
  2. Volume.  They were louder than Ladybug and her partner.
  3. Bravado.  They said their arguments as if they had been carved in stone from Mt. Sinai.  That alone is the valuable experience Ladybug and her partner will carry to their next debate.

These girls could have taken it all, or at the very least come in a close second to the defending champs if the idiot judge had just bothered to actually do his job instead of flirting with someone probably not his wife.  It may not have meant anything to him, but it meant EVERYTHING to Ladybug and her partner.

  • The lesson here–no one, not even God, has said that life will be fair.  Anyone who tries to say it is a damned liar or, at the very least, delusional.  It’s how we deal with the unfairness in life that makes us men and women–or worms and weasels.

How is Ladybug dealing with it?  Same way as always–preparation, determination, and channelled aggression.  Next time, she will kick butt as always, but she will not bother to take names.  She will leave no room for doubt.


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