We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Wednesday, November 27. 2013
The most interesting thing I noticed was how ill-prepared our Parks Department representative was. Leaves were all over the courts and needed to be removed. There were 3 men with small bags doing this work. Slowly. Clearly union work. I offered to grab some bags and start getting the leaves off, but was told no, these men would do it. After removing about one-eighth of all the leaves, they left. Gone, finished. Nothing left behind to finish the job of removing leaves. Our representative had all the tools we needed to paint - but we were going to have to paint with leaves in the way and blowing all over the courts. I saw, at the start, this was a clinic in how the government manages things.
The next thing I observed were the kids I worked with. I volunteered with 18 other members of my company, almost all younger than myself and under the age of 30. Clearly none had ever painted before. I tried to explain why we should start in a far corner of the first court so the rising sun could help dry the paint, and we could continue to paint in sunshine all day. But no, they chose to start in the sun and work towards the growing shade. As the shade increased, one proclaimed "Hm, I guess we should've started over in that far corner." I know they are young, and I know none have owned a home like I have, probably fewer have done any manual labor in their life. However, as a youth, I learned to defer to the guy with experience. Millenials rarely do this. They charge in, full of good intent and an idea, usually lacking a plan.
It was also clear they'd never used paint rollers. We were using 3 different colors to define sections of the court. They would roll haphazardly, spattering different colors on finished portions of the court. Apparently, they were unaware rollers can throw off a spray. Several complained they had worn the wrong clothes. Indeed, some nice pairs of sneakers and jeans will find their way to the trash bin. Yes, we received notification to wear clothes which were suitable for destruction.
The young representative from the Parks Department overseeing the work tried very hard, but was not adding much value. She worked with us, but she didn't know how to use the tools properly and didn't have a plan. In a sense, I felt bad for her. She honestly wanted to do well and right by people. She was clearly out of her depth, though. We would ask what to do, what was next, and she would reply "I'm not sure, I think whatever we can finish is good."
My final observation, and perhaps the most bothersome part of the day, was watching a woman drag a young girl out of the school and begin yelling at her. Based on the yelling, which was impossible to ignore as it was only ten feet away, this girl had bullied another, smaller, girl and the teachers had called this adult, who was the girls parent. The mother was pushing the girl against the wall, challenging her to a fight, using four-letter words, embarrassing and bullying the child. I was trying to determine if I should call for assistance when I realized this was the girl's mother.
Before I'd realized this, I commented "Perhaps we shouldn't be seeing this, teachers shouldn't treat children like this. No wonder our school systems are such a mess." When it was made clear this was the girl's mother, I was stunned. It's no surprise these children have difficulty learning. I wonder if this is a parent who complains about her child's poor performance in school because the government doesn't spend enough, or doesn't give her enough? If so, perhaps parents like this need to look in the mirror and wonder about the way they treat their own children. Bullying might be a problem, but you don't fix it by bullying your own child.
I'm happy I volunteered, and I like giving back to the community whenever I am able to do so. But it's no wonder some communities need so much given back to them. Between the government, the other well-meaning volunteers, and the parents, I was left with no doubt why things are such a mess in the world, at times. Meaning well is not the same as doing well.
I will continue to volunteer no matter how many mediocre experiences like this I have. Call it a belief in karma, or just a belief in doing the 'right thing' (whatever that is). We should all try to lend a hand whenever we can. The key word, of course, is 'should'. I do not believe in making something like this a 'must'. You cannot force people to do the right thing. Not only is 'the right thing' undefinable, forcing someone to do good doesn't make them good, and it usually doesn't garner the results you'd hoped for.
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Doing what feels right to do, regardless.
That's what we all try to do in life. Can't expect gratitude.
Very interesting, BD. It is sad and disheartening to hear the details of their inefficiency and incompetence, but I can't say I'm surprised by the tenor of your story. Still, you'd think more people would have a clue. Are these the kind of people that living in a big (nanny state) city?
I would make one comment about something you said that sticks in my craw - your giving back. That is one of my pet peeves. To my mind you GAVE, you did not give back. To say you gave back diminishes your contribution and relieves the recipient of any responsibility for anything (gratitude or support for those who volunteer, etc).
I don't live anywhere near NYC but I thank you for doing that and even more I thank you for promising to continue in spite what sounded like a rather mixed experience.
I guess I had a problem seeing the difference between 'Bulldog' and 'Birddog'!!! My eyes aren't what they used to be and they were never good!
Don't expect gratitude, the shortest-lived emotion.
Do expect some base level of competence fro our government masters though. As for millenials, they get exactly what their spoiled asses deserve after Mommy and Daddy spent all that cash on the best Liberal arts indoc center money could buy!
At least my millenials received the one, best gift I could give them: The gift of poverty! You want something? You earn it! I don't care that bussing tables or standing around retail clothing racks, helping customers, is "icky."
Lessons learned. They all use their degrees (none in Lib Arts) to make more now than I do and they all volunteer and donate money to charities (and all are staunch conservatives, as well).
I agree with everybody - don't expect gratitude - but it is still the responsibility of the receiver to be gracious.
I don't expect gratitude in anything I do (work, play, etc.), my feeling has always been you do what you do because you can and you want to. Or it just feels right. Regardless, I don't think I mentioned that I expect gratitude.
I wrote this because of a few things.
1. I grow weary of government inefficiency. This girl meant well, but she was way over her head. I doubt she'd ever done anything like this before, and whoever her predecessor was didn't leave behind a plan of action. She pretty much handed us rollers and said "do what you can while the sun is up." She worked hard, but anyone in a leadership role knows working hard and getting the most out of people are 2 very different things.
I don't blame the girl. I blame her organization. Again, it MEANS WELL. But it isn't DOING WELL, at least not AS WELL as it could.
2. I tire of Millenials and their attitude. It wears on me, and I have to keep a smile on and engage these suckers. There are some good ones, but not as many as I'd hope for.
3. I was surprised the teachers let this woman basically ridicule her child in public. I'm more surprised the woman did it. I do not wonder why these kids do so poorly, even with all the money and volunteerism we shovel into these schools. It all starts at home (sorry, preaching to the choir here at Maggie's).
I also don't wonder about volunteerism and why it's needed. Given the lack of effort put into this stuff by the government, this work will have to be re-done in about 3 years. Given what I saw from the parent, a whole community of kids is going to grow up either as bullies (criminals) or feeling unempowered (cowering classes) and prey to politicians drive to build their machines of want.
As BD (the OTHER BD) says, doing what feels right, regardless. I'll keep volunteering because it needs to be done. Hopefully, someday, people will actually care about the job they do, even if it's a job they're not getting paid for.
NYC is the most unionized place in the Universe.
In the co-op (NYC's answer to condos) I lived in one of residents (not of Noo Yawk origin) once tried to help the staff clear the snow-covered sidewalk. The unionized help soon let him know that was a no-no.
If you work in a typical office and try to move some desks with your fellow workers the unionized maintenance goons will go crazy.
Living in VA for years, I don't miss my home town.
Years ago, I took a new job and decided I didn't like where my desk was, so I moved it. Took all of 3 minutes.
Later that day a guy walks by, looks in and asks "what happened here?"
I didn't know what he was talking about. He tells me my desk had been moved, and that was union work. He calls up 3 guys, who take 20 minutes to decide how to best shift my desk back to its old position, then ask me where I want it.
WTF? Classic union nonsense.
FWIW, this is still the case at my office today. Of course, now they've bolted down the desks so you can't move them.
"The Sand Pebbles": Don't break his rice bowl.
#8.1: UCLA believes in slavery. Who woulda thunk it?
#10: Well, they, those poor victims of the storm, deserve that help!
Interesting choice of words, "I like to give back to the community." Pray tell, did you take something from them in the past that was not in exchange for something that someone else wanted more?
Giving back is part of the problem. Not that charity is bad, but when people expect and demand that those who have earned and saved, instead of simply consumed, give them something instead of earning it themselves, they then expect and demand that government will guarantee this process with the consequences that you describe.
One question - did any of the ultimate recipients or their parents say "thank you"?
Actually, yes, I take quite a bit from the community. In fact, we all do in some way unless we live in a hut in the middle of the forest.
Community provides us social interaction, and opportunity for social interaction, among many other things.
I agree that when a community expects and demands that those who have earned and saved 'give something' to them there is a problem. And part of the problem MAY be them hearing that I like to 'give back to the community'. Because they make an assumption I've taken from THEM, as opposed to the broader concept of humanity.
I believe in karma. If I only take, without thinking about others in the process, then I feel at some point I will get bitch-slapped by karma for being uncaring. Yin/Yang, whatever you want to call it. It is for precisely this reason I am a free market Libertarian. You can't engage self-centered behavior at all times and not expect it to come back to haunt you. In a free exchange of goods, services, and ideas, you have to be as fair and honest as you're capable of being. You always have to think of yourself first, but you have to remain aware of the larger community which you're serving.
As for the question - I'll respond with "Does that matter?"
It doesn't to me. I don't do this for them. I do it for me. I feel good when I help. I've worked in soup kitchens and never once heard a "thank you", but neither did I expect to. I get to walk out knowing I provided a service which made me feel very good about myself because someone else benefited.
Which, in reality, is why I like most of the jobs I have had. When I provide a service that many people benefit from, I feel I have done something right. The fact I happen to get paid for it, and I need that paycheck to live, is important to me personally. But it's rarely been the only reason I've had the job.
For me, giving back is part of what makes a community of people. We all know we have a stake in making things better. Some of us are just willing to act on it more than others.
I do not, at all, suggest that you be forced to if you have a problem with it, though. The whole concept of 'requiring community service' does not sit well with me. It's one thing if you get a school credit for it, or if you earn a Boy Scout badge for it, or if you just choose to do it. But making it a requirement (as I've noticed on some college applications - UCLA requires all new freshman to do a day of service when they arrive on campus) is not a beneficial thing. If I'm not interested in helping, it becomes a thorn in my side and I'm not motivated, but I have to do it.
But I enjoy doing work like this. Normally I don't mention it to people. This is only the second time I have. The first time was to discuss Sandy and how 6 months after the storm things were still not as good as the media had led us to believe. This time, it was to discuss some of the flaws of government sponsored volunteerism and the sources of its need to begin with.
Just because nobody said 'thank you' doesn't mean I feel less inclined to do it again. That's not the point.
I understand what you mean about community. Being in the community meant that you got something. Of course you did - And you gave something. As you say, that's part of being in a community. You didn't get anything that you didn't give (more to some, less to others but you contributed like everybody else in their own way). There is no deficit to make up. That doesn't mean that you should contribute more - we probably all should contribute more - but the way I read "give back", it implies a debt.
I believe in karma (or whatever name you want to give it), too. As the Bible says, "to whom much is given, much is expected".
Giving is not a badge of honor, it's not something to brag about, and it's not something that makes you better than somebody else. It is something to be done because it's the right thing. And as you say, you don't expect thanks. If you do, you are not giving, you are forcing a debt on somebody. But as I say, that does not absolve the recipient of the responsibility of being gracious.
You should (and have) given because it is the right thing to do and because at some level, it makes you feel good. We should all emulate your example.
I don't want to belabor the point, but I do want to clarify mine. I think we're pretty much on the same page but we're just reading the words a little bit differently.
I don't view 'giving back' as implying I have a debt. It implies I give back more than I get out.
I feel I get much from the community - often more than I give. You have a slightly different view, that's all. Neither is correct. I give back simply because I can, while others are either less inclined or incapable.
But to me, it's still giving back. Mainly because we're all better for it.
I don't know, Bulldog. It sounds like we're saying the same thing but just using different words!
Have a great Thanksgiving!
I think we agree on everything but the semantics!
If WE ALL take something from the community, then by definition of community, we all have already given back, i.e. participated in a mutually beneficial exchange.
I also agree, in both an "Adam Smithian" way (OK, I guess I created that word, but if you've read Smith, you get the idea) and a spiritual sense, in considering or serving others. Smith notes that the butcher will deal with the cobbler in a proper manner because it serves the butcher's best (financial) interest. I would go further and propose that when the butcher simply tries to serve the cobbler as best he can - without having his own interest in mind - he will be rewarded by the cobbler. Indeed, it is in the cobbler's own best interest to do so. We don't need karma to ensure this, only free markets!
Now, in response to your answer to my question - you state that "I don't do this for them. I do it for me." This begs the question "Are you giving back or taking?"
I don't mean to be a jerk about it, but the words and ideas do matter. When the Big O gets up on stage and says that "rich" people - i.e. "the makers" - should "give back", he's implying that they are "rich" because they took more than they earned. Thus, I think it's more accurate to say that you are acting charitably by volunteering your service because you derive some benefit - albeit non-monetary - from doing so because it is part of your belief system that doing so is the right thing to do. My concern is that certain politicians move from "those that have SHOULD give back" to "those that have SHALL give back" in which case, it's no longer charity that comes from your heart, but theft that comes from the barrel of the government's guns.
The question about did anyone say "thank you" was not intended as a reflection on your motives or concern for recognition, but as a reflection on the concern I expressed that many of the recipients of such activities have been conditioned by leftist politicians to believe that they are entitled to such acts of generosity.
It's not semantics, it is using words in their full meaning. Give back absolutely infers that you took. I do good stuff for others - it's because I desire to do that - usually justice driven rather than simple need arising from laziness or ineptitude.
We pay taxes and given the unlimited "generosity" of our elected representatives, we don't owe anyone squat. Let us list how government at all levels takes care of everything - on second thought, too long of a list.
Those that do more than is covered by taxes - good for you, much obliged, but you are not at all obligated. You owe nothing if you pay your taxes.
I would say that given the progressive nature of our tax system and all of the other wealth transfers tacked on by the federal government, the 50% who are NOT paying federal income tax take more than they give. They are using the feds to enforce an exchange which is not mutually beneficial, one in which they benefit at the expense of others. If anyone should be giving back, it's the moocher class who collect benefits from the government. When we allow these moochers to sit idly by while we bust our butts in order to provide them with a variety of freebies, we encourage them to persist in their ways and we hurt our society by making our nation less productive.
I think a cynical approach is not the best for me. I spent too long being an angry young man.
Does anyone 'deserve' anything? No. Do I NEED to do anything? No. But while I believe in the Smithian view, I also believe it has a limit. I also believe it is better to give than to receive, but in receiving to be gracious.
Whether I get gratitude or agree with failed Progressive policy is immaterial. It's what I want to do and ultimately is one reason I doubt the existence of true altruism.
I gave up volunteering after too many experiences of watching the helped take full advantage of the helpers on many, many occasions. We do have a class of people that need help but we also have a class of professional societal victims that tend to be the squeaky wheels who know how to work the charity industry. This past Sunday we delivered a mountain of food from our Concord, MA church to an inner-city drug recovery house. Just a few volunteers showed up late to help and and the main "professional" arrived in a friend's new Lincoln.
After the New Orleans storm, wife and daughter went down to help for a week, cleaning out schools.
The locals watched them help, drinking beer on lawn chairs.
They wondered why the locals weren't pitching in.
Be very careful while you are in "the community." Especially when you are being a do-gooder. Can be dangerous. Learned my lesson a long time ago. As far as mommy and the bread chopper--nothing new under the sun--life goes on--not necessarily as we know it.
I'm off volunteering for a while. For the past few years I've experienced too much of 'No good deed goes unpunished.' I'll volunteer again when I'm better able to handle the abuse that comes with helping out.
so basically the union guys got paid for the unskilled work and couldn't even do that. the volunteers did the skilled work and screwed it up.
it looks to me like the volunteers enabled the union guys to screw off and then blame the poor result on the volunteers.
it has long been my opinion that volunteers simply enable the government to waste $ on worthless employees and this looks like another example. better to "volunteer" your time by agitating to hold worthless gov't employees accountable, this will have a much greater effect than enabling the unions.
one observation about that mother: at least she tries to correct her child.
Most these days would get angry at the teachers for calling them over when their little angel obviously had done nothing wrong and the other child "must have had it coming".
Though I disagree with such public punishment, doing it as soon as possible after the child does wrong is always good.
Same as with pets, it reinforces what the punishment is for after all, associates the bad behaviour with the negative consequences and hopefully teaches them to not do it again.