It’s 6:15 p.m. and I’m not supposed to be home right now, in full makeup and in my pjs. I’m supposed to be selling raffle tickets at the Angel Foundation Gala. But then, I wasn’t needed. Not really. Perhaps I’d like to go to the lobby and stand around, for a bit, wouldn’t that be nice?
The email that I received asked me to sell tickets. Lemme’ tell you something about me: I can smooze. I can pour it on. But the look I got, from the helpful ‘volunteer check-in’ person, surmised that I was not what they were looking for in a raffle ticket salesman. Was my name actually Rachel (Dykoski implied)? Yes. “So (Minnesota Nice voice oozing,) there’s nothing for you to do, really, would you like to be a floater? And um, I could tell you where you’re needed, uh, when you’re needed, how does that sound?” I’m thinking that sounds like passive aggressive horse manure. But I respond, “Why don’t you tell me where you’d like me to go, and then I’ll do that,” trying to sound cheery while feeling ostracized and awkward. “I know, there’s all kinds of signs up, telling people where to go? But..uh….”
“Well, here’s (generic named chubby girl) and (generic named single woman in her 50s) and they’re going to direct people in the lobby to the gala.” Volunteer demoter leaves and I turn to speak with the singled out volunteers. I asked them if they had eaten. They said, oh no, we’re scheduled to eat at 7:00. Huh. In my email, I was scheduled to eat at 5:00 I shared. I grabbed a plate and dished up food. But when I finished adding food to my plate, I was suddenly without my generic, demoted volunteers. They had left the room.
So I sat down and ate with the raffle ticket sales people. The food was good. I checked my voicemail. I tried to make small talk but, I was getting aloof repartee. One of the ticketing elite asked, “So, are you any good at sales?” What the…meh?! I shrugged, trying to keep my face slack and my eyes soft. Poor dear, is what I read on her face. She shared that she was a colon cancer survivor, and this was one of her favorite ways to give back. She got murmurs of congratulations and supportive gestures. I told the group that I live with cancer, with leukemia. And the topic was changed to the weather.
I got up and grabbed a coffee. Where’s the demoted volunteers? I sit at a different table. They were the silent auction folks. I tried to make small talk with them, but it didn’t quite work past, “you should have a dessert….” Sigh. Am I too black for this event? I’m the only black volunteer in this staging room. And those who are my color on this floor are either serving food or singing in the ballroom.
I can’t locate the volunteer coordinator who demoted me. I cannot find the wandering ‘loser’ volunteers I was reassigned to and then I realized something. I am volunteering for this and I can walk away. Tonight I experienced “Minnesota Ice” and I’m not about that anymore. Not voluntarily. So they could kiss my retreating butt good bye.
I got in a cab to go home and the African American gentleman asked how I was fairing this evening. I almost gave a knee-jerk reply of ‘fine’ but then I though, no, that’s not true. “I’m salty thank you, but I’m on my way home and away from what irks me.” “You must have gotten a ‘real Minnesota’ reception.” He compared affluent, white Minnesotans to white from Mississippi. He said it has gotten bad, “I remember when it was Minnesota Nice up here. But that time has passed, believe me!” He shared all that before I had even shared what happened. BEFORE. Look, huh, I told the cabbie I had volunteered to be helpful and I was treated like garbage. He said, “you were treated like you were too black to be there. They took one look at your braids and thought, ‘oh-no, not one of them!’ trust me, believe that, ha.” Wow. He got me home quickly and wished me a blessed evening. “You handled yourself well, young lady. Good night.”
I don’t know if I did. But I’m glad I’m home.
I live with leukemia and Multiple Sclerosis. It took a lot out of me just to make it there, to be upright and presentable let alone helpful. All while in pain! I chose to walk away from that stress. It’s MY health. It’s MY time and I’m worthy of better discernment and treatment than what I received. I wrote the volunteer coordinator for the event and I told her that “I hope the gala garners goo-gobs of moolah for the organization. But my higher angels told me that my time is better spent else where…. Please remove me from any future volunteer opportunity emails. Regards, Rachel.”