Sunday, July 26, 2009

Henry Hudson and My Cathartic Sledgehammer

True story.

When I volunteered to help out at the Henry Hudson celebration by the waterfront yesterday, I figured I would do something nice and easy.

I would sit behind a table, look pretty, and sell stuff. I can do 'pleasant' times.

I wore something casual, yet smart, sporty and comfortable.

The first hour met my expectations - I just sat behind a table, smiled, and looked pretty.


Then the organizer tapped me on the shoulder.

"Um, we need another stage hand. Please, can you help us out?"

Now, I agreed to volunteer and help out when necessary. I made no qualifications or restrictions on my abilities, so, when asked to be a stage hand, I said, "Sure."

Suddenly, I'm unloading boxes from a truck, thinking, 'I'm not dressed properly for this'.

Luckily, the shirt and shorts I wore I bought off clearance racks at the outlet mall - so, I really didn't care what happened to them.

Then, we set up the speakers. The time came to nail spikes into the ground with a small, sturdy sledgehammer. The iron spikes were about two and a half feet long....not small, OK?

It was either going to be me or the other stage hand, a thin, 16-year-old girl with a pony-tail cocked to one side.

Granted, I considered it, but I couldn't really let her do it. I took the sledgehammer and the spikes myself.

Now, if you give me an entity relationship diagram showing several database tables, joins, and primary keys, with your business requirements, then I can write the database-specific structured query language and get you the information you need in the most efficient way possible.

Hand me a sledgehammer and a spike, and I'm lost.

It's 90 plus degrees in the humid sun. I'm not a happy camper, but I was thinking, "Trix, you can do this."

As I was hammering, someone came to mind. ( names, please...) All of a sudden, I had the strength of a thousand drag queens - a thousand ANGRY drag queens!

The last two spikes went into the ground really quickly.

It was such a wonderful cathartic experience - quick and efficient, with a positive outcome!

...and no one got hurt.

We moved some more boxes and then it was "BREAK TIME"!!

Break time! We got pizza and water and twenty minutes to stop and eat. I felt like a union worker!

I went around and asked my new stage-hand friends how they heard about volunteering for this gig.

A couple of them said that they volunteer for Habitat for the Humanities and helped build some of the houses down on Mill Street, and that's how they found out about this festival.

When I asked them how they felt about building houses, they said,

"You don't need to know anything - we just show up and they tell us what to do. We built walls the other day, and I shingled a roof. I learned how to shingle a roof!"

That's when I realized I was eating pizza with some really extraordinary teens - and I was so fortunate to have met them.

After "break time", we moved a few more boxes around, and then that was it. The organizer came up to me and said, "I'm so sorry - I have you doing manual labor."

"Don't sweat it," I said, "it's not like I'm wearing my heels."

The lessons?
  • Sometimes, when pushed outside your comfort zone, amazing things happen.
  • In flats, I can do just about anything.
  • Never pay full retail, because you just never know....

Love ya,


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