Good morning. As the title of this post implies, I am now employed. However, there's no pay involved. You see, I took a job at my daughter's school as the new "gift card coordinator".
It's a volunteer position for the PTO, something I never ever wanted to join. (Because as you all know, joining the PTO is like going back to high school -- somewhere I never wanted to be in the first place.)
I've been thinking lately that I did need to find a "real" job. Don't get me wrong, I consider myself self-employed. Same as when I was a self-employed caterer. But back then I always had something in the pipeline for the slow winter months between Jan 1 and Easter before things started picking up again. I was thinking this time, I would find something part-time, maybe office temp to keep me afloat until I can get the next book out. I mean, I am a pretty good typist and know my way around a couple of computer programs.
Anyway, over the summer, the school posted their volunteer positions and I kept seeing the "gift card coordinator" job not being filled. My friend Tina (our daughters are in the same class) was leaving it because she was going to be the new PTO treasurer. I just naturally assumed one of the other women who helped her was going to do it. But no one filled in the little box.
So I did. My only real thought about the position was that it would look good on my resume if and when I ever did join the real world again.
HA! Hindsight is 20/20 as we all know, and last week I had my first two training sessions. It's a lot more involved than I ever thought. A lot (A LOT) more political than I ever dreamed or aspired to (I now am sitting on the Executive Board of the PTO with a vote mind you), and a way lot more hours than I ever planned on donating.
I was at school, both Wednesday and Friday for 7 hours. I didn't bring a lunch because I thought it would only take a few hours. It's a lot more complicated than just filling orders and checking off boxes. There's math involved. MATH my friends, and let me tell you now, math and I are hardly on speaking terms. My personal checkbook has never been balanced in the 30+ years I've had one. I mean, I do know how to add and subtract, multiply and divide, but balancing, yeah, not so much. I'm willing to let a few pennies slide into the ether. (My accountant despises me.)
And for the love of Mike, I had to learn the different terminology of what Tina calls the "brain". (The reconciling sheets that need to match perfectly with the numbers in the columns.) We have In-School Sales, Great Lakes sales, (where we get our gift cards), buy-out sales, (people who don't want to participate but we need to account for them as well), percentage totals, credit sales, (which the teachers are always getting credits to use), not to mention we have local vendors who participate who aren't in the "system" so they're on a whole different page.
Don't get me wrong, I can do this job. I was in charge of a $3 million dollar budget when I was chef at The Stone House Inn. I had to account for every purchase and sale back then. But it's been a long time.
And because I now hold a position on the PTO Executive Board, I've already been blindsided by the politics. (There's a fight raging over taking the microwaves out of the cafeteria for the kids to use. I'm already pressured to cast a vote to bring them back.)
Can I back out of this? No. I said I would do it. Do I want to? Hell yeah, I want to run for the hills. My perfect schedule of dropping Monster off at school and writing all day is gone. Granted the "job" only encompasses two days a week, but because I'm the "new" coordinator, I've already changed the order form and pick-up policy as well as the days we "work". There are a whole lot of things that need to be done that don't necessarily get done on school time. (Calls to other volunteer parents, scheduling the volunteers, writing the column for the weekly newsletter about "new" vendors that arise and "specials" the company provides.)
People are looking at me differently. Not only because I wear my "good" clothes for this "job" (I mean, I need to be "professional" and not just some shorts and t-shirt writer mom) but because people assumed because I was friends with some of these women in the first place, I got the job because of that. Which isn't true. And because I now hold a vote, they assume I'm going to side with those who are fighting the system. (If it warrants it, I'll cast a vote for what I think is in the best interests of the children. I mean that's why we're doing this to begin with, right. It's not about us, it's about them.)
I had just started a new manuscript as well. Richard's story which has been sitting on the back burner for oh, about 7 years. His book was a shambles, and in doing some research the last few weeks before school started I realized I had to throw most of what I'd written away and start from scratch. I've been really excited to get him going and now...this.
WHAT. WAS. I. THINKING?
Obviously, I wasn't.
Tell me -- Have you ever made a choice to do something to help out and then realized you have just screwed yourself over?
Anne Gallagher (c) 2013