Tuesday was the last of our volunteer meetings here. While this photo shows ME with MY head in the Hippo’s mouth, I fear that Da Boss feels like HER head is in the ravenous creature’s mouth. She hates doing public events, and talking in front of others. She’s great in the forest, and she’s great at maintenance — but a presenter she isn’t. Fortunately her boss took over the most of that job.
The District Ranger came down from Waldport for the meeting — a first in the year we’ve been here. We had good turn out from our staffers in support of the volunteers and that’s only right. The Dunes would not function without the staff of folks we have here.
Out of 35 volunteers 8 failed to show — 3 for known and reasonable reasons, 5 seem to have simply blown off the meeting. Ok — so I know there were repeat topics, but it’s nice when experienced volunteers help out the new folks with their wisdom and experience.
On a negative note — one of our volunteers is quite ill at the moment. We saw her Sunday at the grocery — and stood around talking in the middle of Safeway for over 45 minutes. Tuesday her huz called to say she was in hospital. No idea yet the nature of her malady but her huz is the one who just had back surgery. That family doesn’t get a break.
The meeting went well overall. For me it was a bit uncomfortable. To much “We’re gonna miss Peter & Peggy.” Four different staffers complimented us on our performance and our accomplishments. Personally, one would have enough, but it was nice to be appreciated. We got a couple inexpensive trinkets and the meeting went on.
On the ‘what’s happening’ scene, our worried-volunteer-who-was-about-to-leave may not be leaving after all. He, Heh….. He’s been checking out other opportunities. There are no paid ‘volunteer’ opportunities in all of Oregon, he told me . He’s checked. (Although in my book if you’re getting ‘paid’ you aren’t really volunteering — that’s workamping) If you ask me, the cost of moving out of the forest into a ‘real’ RV park is a lot more than he wants to pay out of pocket — so now he’s casting around for some more acceptable gig here on the forest. We have gigs, but not ones he’d consider acceptable. Or maybe he’ll just stay where he is. Who knows? Humans are not always rational beings.
Our former roving caretaker who moved to the Beach about three weeks ago has now decided that the OHV beach is too much activity for him. He wants to keep his option open and go to the campground with the bad well that had initially been promised him. Problems, problems, problems.
And on the last who’s who and what’s what topic we had a couple who said they wanted to volunteer. That had been volunteers here before and the boss wanted to hire them. We did over my objection but hey — I was the new guy on the block and it’s Da Boss’ circus so Ok. You may remember that they arrived, signed up, and plopped down on-site — for 4 days — only to disappear overnight and turn in their gear anonymously over the greeter’s counter at the visitors’ center. We found out that they found a paying gig at one of the local RV parks — they were to replace a couple who had ben on-site for 17 years. Well, that didn’t last long. They worked there for about three weeks and now… They are gone again. I told Da Boss we shouldn’t have hired them because they just didn’t add up — too many inconsistencies in their current story. And in my lifetime I’ve learned that people have a way of showing you who they are — who they really are — no matter how hard they try to hide their real selves. I’m glad to see that I wasn’t wrong about my estimation even though I knew them for a much shorter time than the staff here.
I heard some very creative and constructive suggestions at the meeting. I hope some of them see the light of day — in the form of being tested out. All our speakers turned up save one — but with fog and wind no one wanted to hang out for longer than we spent anyway.
And we have three volunteers who have said (I’m sure in jest) that we should tell them where we’re going (they are making the assumption that we’re going to volunteer someplace else) and they’ll follow us — that make a person feel good in a strange way.
You know — so much of life is about relationship. I know without a doubt that part of the reason those three and others are here now is that I made a point of connecting with them before they got here, and I kept in touch with them since they’ve been here. We built something together that had nothing to do with the Forest Service. We built relationship. That always feels good.
I sometimes don’t understand the RV’ers who say they are getting off the road because they tire of being disconnected. That doesn’t have to be the case. For example — Our Dallas Texas couple are making plans to visit Milwaukee next year — Sept. ’15 — so knowing that Peg and I usually plan our return to Milwaukee in September we’re setting aside time to re-connect with them when they, and we (hope) to be in town. I have stayed in touch with people from our last volunteer gig in Spring Valley, and with Facebook and other social media there’s no reason you HAVE to lose touch, or be disconnected. Being here for long enough has been part of that — it takes time to build relationship — and some of these folks we’ve known 10 months, others for 5 months, still others for only a month or two. But relationship is what you make it and if you are the kind of person who shows you’re a real friend, not just an acquaintance, then people can get close in a hurry.
Seven more work days to go. Lots to be accomplished in those seven day.