Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My guilt trip

Note the date This is about My Guilt Trip, the trip of last Tuesday evening.

Tuesday November 17th.

I did not want to go volunteer today. I had plenty of reasons to say no. I was tired from two days in Machias this past weekend. I had too much to do--I wanted to run, to go to the YMCA, to eat dinner, do laundry. Oh and I had things I "had" to do as well: go to the store and make a test.

So when I got an email from Pete Andrews the head of the Christian Youth Corps in Machias asking for any available volunteer to come help get ready for tomorrow's drywallers, I mentally dismissed it with a simple "I can't, I am too busy".

That said, I figured the least I could do was pass the request on to other volunteers who might not be as busy and might be able to go. So I tweeted the request. I did not expect much, if any response: SBU played St. Johns in the first big game of the year, I was giving them almost no notice, and it was a school night the week before Thanksgiving break so there would be many mid-term exams to study for and papers to write. "No, no one will be able to go. I am in good company by not going. They are all busy too. "

But then, something happened. Within an hour I got a call saying that one of the people who had read the tweet wanted to go and could drive. "OK, I will contact Pete and tell him you are coming, but I still can not go. I am too busy" I told her.

Then I got a text, and then another, and then another. More and more people wanted to go. I was feeling more and more guilty. The other volunteers, by their great example were guilting me into going. So I began to think I might go, but my heart was not really into it. I felt guilty about my weak excuses, I felt guilty about not wanting to go. I felt selfish for wanting to do my own thing before responding to this call for help.

In the end, I decided to go, but it was far from an easy decision.

Upon our arrival in Machias we all got to work. The main tasks for the evening were to clean out the upstairs and then help to wire and insulate the basement so that the dry wallers could do their thing starting at 7 AM the next morning.

I warmed to the job but felt somewhat "out of it". The other volunteers clearly had good work and were working with the electricians etc, but my jobs were more of the "what can he do without messing up too much" variety.

So I swept up and located tools for the other volunteers. But as I did I occasionally suffered from cognitive dissonance and found myself thinking more and more that I should have stayed home. I had work to do, the drive made the trip uneconomical. If I had wanted to do BonaResponds work, I had many projects online that needed doing without the added time spent on the drive. I should have stayed and done them.

As person voted "most likely to mess up on the job", one of my jobs was to make sure the others had tools when they were needed. On one of my tool locator walk-arounds I went outside looking for Pete, when suddenly "the boys" came around the corner of the house. I am not sure who saw who first, but Wyatt and Dalton waved and the smile on their faces almost matched the smile on mine.

Suddenly the trip, and even the promised late late night of test making was worth it and then some.

The next few hours flew by. the work, which only minutes before has seemed trivial and meaningless was terrific and important. I could not even believe I had not wanted to do this.

So to the BonaResponds volunteers who guilted me into going tonight, thank you. You not only made their house, you made my day.

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