Come my daughter’s fall swim season, I also have another job, one that’s voluntary by definition and anything but in reality. The beginning of the season gives slacker moms, like me, unbridled moping reign. Wait a minute, way too many big words to define what’s really going on here. We, the parents, basically get to sit around, eat candy from the vending machine, and occasionally glance toward the pool, unless the People magazine, the WiFi situation, or HGTV reruns in the lobby prevail and entertain us during the glorious, one-hour downtime. Yes, I know, sad. I’d rather sip a latte at Barnes & Nobles or, heck, get my nails done, but my reality isn’t exactly sponsored by a TV show. On the contrary – it’s my reality.
Several weeks into the season, the parents finally get their work/volunteer assignments. “Yippee!” I had applied for the “zookeeper” job; a pretty cushy gig by definition since I already keep a small herd of monkeys at home – the elementary and pre-school kind. The job description appealed to me. How bad can it be to “herd” a group of swimmers between events? Sure beats manning the bake table, which requires a cool head and flawless math skills (not my forte). Unless they’d agree to rip off customers by instituting a uniform pricing structure, the subtle variances between a bag of M&Ms and a bowl of homemade chili are too much for me to calculate on the spot, with swimmers and parents scuttling about. I have enough pressure at work, thank you.
Feeling superbly confident in my qualifications as a zookeeper, I was shocked to learn that the position had already been filled. Now, these kinds of arrangements don’t come with a LinkedIn network (note to self: look into registering a swim team social network to swap job opportunities, recommendations, and ongoing training). There is no Plan B, no “who do you know” string pulling, and not even an “opt out” contingency plan. I was assigned place judge instead, a job that requires dead-on eyeballing capabilities. Don’t get me wrong, I take this stuff very seriously, which is why I mope so much during preseason, drinking soda, eating candy, chatting, reading, and watching lobby TV, sometimes all at the same time. As a newbie to this gig, I dove right in and listened in earnest to the instructions during orientation, while the pros on the team, aka parents less inclined to embrace vending machine-sponsored happiness during preseason, merely poked their heads in and excused themselves seconds later to do their jobs with the efficiency of a fighter pilot. The instructions for my new job made sense, but I had the official repeat them twice more for good measure, as if the whole competitive event would fall apart without my assigned job.
By Marion Kase
Marion Kase is a working mother who lives, plays, and, well, works out in the burbs. She captures a dirty sock laundry list of mundane, sometimes hair-pulling observations, as seen from the brim of her coffee cup, for all the unsung heroes in our wonderful community on her blog, Helicopter-Caterpillar.