Friday, June 17, 2016

The real worst ever...

The Pulse nightclub shooting is on many people's minds these days. There a lot of talk about it on Facebook and I'm sure all the other obsessive social media sites.

I'm also sure that most people have seen the disclaimer type of posts about how this isn't the WORST EVER massacre or mass shooting and pictures of horrific events like Wounded Knee and the Watts Riots or the St Louis Riots and the list could go on and on. It's as though they would take away the sting of this horrific act by saying well hey, we've been through this before and look, survivors.

There's hours of time being spent debating on whether this was terrorism or not, and if it was, was it domestic terrorism or something else and meanwhile people died. Of course all these tv shows and talk shows have a gallery of the victims of the shooting, well the ones that died, because the true victims of the shooting are not JUST the people directly involved but all of their families, and friends and co workers and the people that they used to smile at on the commute to work and the people who never had a chance to meet them and will sadly, never know the joy of the friend ship or love they have missed out on.

The fact is that defining terrorism takes away from this point. Whatever it was, it was awful and shameful that more attention is being spent upon whether it was the *WORST EVER* or not. I kinda bet if you asked someone who was there if they cared whether it was called the worst ever, I doubt they'd want to go in for a do over to get the damned title.

Every second spent on whinging about whatabout this time or that time or wasn't this worse than that is time spent wasted when it could have been spent loving our fellow man (woman person whatever the hell you want to say in place of the word man) _see even there is a stupid waste of time_

So stop telling me that this event or that event was worse because all you're doing is avoiding the fact that people died and people who could have stopped it even happening didn't. Do we go on a witch hunt for those people though? The guy made it onto a watch list, but it seems he wasn't very well watched.

None of all that matters, sadly because what really needed to happen didn't and we can't go back in time.

But we can go forward, we can move ahead, not through to the other side leaving this behind us but through it, taking it with us, letting it colour our actions towards others a bit, or a lot.

I've never understood a parent who could turn their child away from the family home or table because of who they loved.  I just don't get it.  I bet that some of the people who died, died alongside the only family they felt they had in this world.  I bet that some of the survivors are now facing the fact that because they were there, in a Gay Club, that they longer have the family they had.

I also bet and would be very sad to win, though I know I would, that there's more than one parent out there wishing they'd not closed the door, hung up the phone or turned their back on their child who was there.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Observances on WoW gamers and the world in general.

So the part you're missing is that he was playing the game his way.

Who are you to tell him to do otherwise? Sure you can kick him. And find some other person to be low man on your totem pole, but really.. there's ways to do that without being an absolute creep about it. Like it or not, most of the people in random dungeons act one of three ways.

Either they are so consumed by their own greatness at a game, because you know, they levelled to 90 within the first week of the expansion and will be bored by the end of next month, having blown through the content by playing for hours daily.

This is A GAME, but they are so UP there, so high on their achievement that everyone else is beneath their notice or concern and really don't matter at all. This approaches what used to be the layman's definition of a sociopath. As well as gives rise to gamers being referred to as mouth breathing, socially inept basement dwelling, pee in a bottle cause they can't leave their computer long enough to use the bathroom let alone shower creeps. Just saying.

Or they are computer savvy, intelligent people who relish the challenges of an expansion and knowledgeable of the changes not only for their class but others, but are so fed up with the first group that they have become defensive and insular and just want to get through the dungeon already. They 'used' to offer advice and try to play the peacekeeper but have been attacked, slammed and generally treated like crap so often that they don't bother anymore. Just go, get it done, move on.

Or three, they are so scared they will mess up and be the lowest on the recount and get kicked after every fight that even if they do know what they are doing, they are too nervous awaiting the scathing or sometimes just down right abusive harassment of the first group that there's no way they could function normally or effectively.

I guess now that I think about it there's four, there's the person who just wants to have the fun of playing in a group of people. They might be moms, dads, doctors, lawyers, university students taking a break from studying or even 15 yo girls who think gaming is cool. But I'm willing to bet those are getting pretty scarce cause who wants to hang out in a crowd where the bullies are the kings.

All it takes is being nice, a concept that could very well be applied to any interaction be it at school, work or even at home in your own family.. Treat others as you wish to be treated. I really doubt anyone on WoW wants to be sworn at, told how inept they are and made to feel inferior for not being able to push a button as fast or in the correct (according to some) order that an elite is able to.

However I think that's beyond the scope of some people and too simple for others to accept as a solution, or maybe just too cool for the elites to understand. Being nice doesn't equate to being weak. Sometimes it's far more difficult to be nice in the face of something than it is to give in to the weakness of being a creep.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Grief

Grief isn't something one gets through, like a stretch of muddy trail on a hike.  It's more the hike itself.  It's a journey that has highs and lows and long stretches of normal.

In 2006 a rescue dog came to live with us.  Her name ended up being Girl as nothing else caught her attention.  She was old and weary and we felt the least we could do was give her a safe home for the few remaining months it looked like she had.

A part of her story is here. Another part, which wasn't mine to tell appeared on my son's facebook feed today. With his permission, here it is: One - eyed teacher If I were still in Stavely, If you were still alive, Now is when I'd close my eyes, Curl my fingers into fur, Fur which once came matted, The last time I felt - Genuinely, totally close - Like my brother and I Were actually siblings - Not strangers held together By tense, distant relationship. I can still remember him, Determined to clip away The neglected fur, Your patience rewarded, With suitable collar, Proof that, "In the morning" Never came. You feared thunder, One - eyed educator, Maybe a truck - We never did know. But I knew without a doubt, You came for more Than just a lesson. You reminded me; You are loved, You are cared for, You never cared, What I admitted, Secrets and fears Too dark for diaries. When we walked, The abandoned streets, Dark corners & Wide, open prairies... I bared my soul to you, While you merely looked on. You at one point, Soothed tears brought on, By hateful, cruel words - Spit by peers whom Really were old enough, To not only know better, But be better. I still remember how grieved, Bereaved and lost - How late night walks returned, To the fearful - "Will I make it home?" Lover holding me tight, Sobbing - tears shamelessly spent For you. In a school which I swore would Never have a drop of salt Borne from my eyes, A hatred of which i had fostered So deep that it's a wonder, I ever made friends there at all. In the city now, I have no fears of that. Perhaps its the boisterous Anonymity from being alone, Or the fact that Somewhere I know, Over the rainbow bridge, You wait for me - Watching on, Reminding me of Your compassion - For strangers & babes alike. Now I wonder if your seizures Were part of why I have made Choices which i still question. And i wonder, whether you agree Or if part of you would bare teeth And scold me like a kitten too rough. Though I know, That with your fears With your cold paws, And warm heart That you understand. You gifted me with much, Your lessons and love - Were all part of what I needed Then and now. ---Niko Wilson 2015

Humour. Or the Lack Thereof.

I'm a grouch.  I don't like stupid humour or the punk'd / pranks type and get no amusement in mean spirited 'shots'.  It's one thing to poke fun at someone gently and in a manner that may heighten awareness of a gesture or speech pattern or word usage.

Think Rich Little of way back when time.

Think Tim Conway (for that matter the entire Carol Burnett ensemble right down to the cute guy who left after a couple of seasons). AKA as Lyle Waggoner, thank you Google.

I loved SNL back in the day -- not saying that the humour there isn't to my tastes these days but I can't recall the last time I turned on the current show.  I'm more of a Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Dan Ackroyd, Martin Short fan than I am of the current players.

Even then, when it got mean spirited, I tuned out.

Loved Robin Williams on Happy Days and Mork and Mindy; but wasn't too fond of his attack type of stand up that he did back then; nor the foul language. It was done for shock factor and was very effective in its time.  Now, I cringe watching his standup routines.  They just aren't funny to me anymore. (yes, I know he's passed on, but he's a valid example as is Richard Pryor.)

Same with Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller.  I used to just cringe at both of those guys being in a movie I was going to watch.  But then I saw Spanglish with AS and I found myself finding the pathos in his humour.  50 First Dates is fun and thoughtful and softer than his usual schtick.   Grown Ups 1 and 2 are too. Add Blended and Just Go with It to that list. 

He still gets out of control in some movies but it sure seems like he's grown up himself.  Blended ends with one of his style of singalong songs and it's quite delightful.  He and Drew Barrymore have that 'connection' that Gable and Lombard had (yes, way back in the day). There's an honesty and trueness that they bring across the screen.  I have no idea if they have an off screen friendship or not but I suspect they do.  

Sure Benny Hill was obviously a misogynist (or so it would appear) but his brand of humour was rampant in his day and I bet a lot of people still smile and picture a manic run of semi naked women and goofy man in their minds when they hear his theme song.  

British humour doesn't translate for some people. I love it.  There's a cleverness and effort to it and while it does contain a fair amount of physicality and staging it still has the appeal of making one think to get the joke.

My all time favourites are still the Carol Burnett gang and Red Skeleton.  It was shocking to me, at the age I was when Blazing Saddles came out, to hear Harvey Korman using such language and fondling a statue *yikes*.  But Mel Brooks is right up there for me, as well.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Make Bullying Unacceptable Behaviour EVERYWHERE

Bullying does not stop after you leave school.

This is why we need to stop it at every level be it fellow student to student, teacher to student, adult to child and yes, child to adult as well as peer to peer coworkers etc etc etc  

Oh Bosses, let's not forget bosses or managers or lead hands.
 
In fact anyone who sees themselves in authority over someone has probably been guilty of bullying.  

But that doesn't mean that just because you've done it that you should condone it.  

This is a long while ago, but when a DUI wasn't as serious an offence as it is now, many people were let down with light sentences because judges and lawyers had been there done that.  

Look how unacceptable DUI is now!

Come on, reformed bullies, let's get with the program and make bullying as unacceptable and distasteful as we possibly can. Don't share the photos, don't Like them on Facebook or pass them along on Instagram etc.

Find out the whole story if you want to comment and keep your comments to the situation, not how someone looks, acts, dresses, presents as, or the amount of $ you think they have in their bank account.

Be accountable for the things you say and do; if only to yourself.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Facebook is pissing me off

Offensive post #1.

"Shelter Insider" informs on how things work INSIDE the facility and how BREEDERS and SELLERS need to stop doing so while even one animal is being euthanized. *Big emphasis on how hard is your heart if you don't immediately go out and adopt a dog. *sarcasm intended.

I find it offensive to lump *breeders* who live with their breeds and work daily( hourly and lifetimes )to correct the errors of puppy mills in with *sellers*.  Not to mention all the uniformed people who seek out the *better deal for the paperless pup*.  Newsflash folks:  papers on an animal belong to the animal and have no monetary value.  Anyone (in Canada at least) who sells an animal purported to be a 'purebred' without the registration papers is in direct contravention of the Canadian Livestock Act (and the last I heard) is subject to fines at the least.  No punishment for the buyer though... so this goes on all the damn time. 

But that's offtopic here. 

Not every humane society worker is a damn saint and not every animal lover who doesn't take their dog to doggy day care is an abuser of animals.   Nothing is absolute.

I have worked in a shelter, I've shown dogs in conformation as well as agility and I've also had people tell me horror stories about their lovely breed becoming popular and destroyed.   I've stroked the head of my own dog as she was put down (for old age related illness at an already advanced age for her breed) and looked into her eyes as they dimmed and faded. I did the same thing 6 months later with another of our dogs, who was exactly 6 months younger than her and also at an advanced age.  I know how much that hurts, and I'm not saying it's not sad that there are thousands of dogs *thrown away*.  It is.  It just isn't the *breeders (real breeders who actually know the faults and qualities of their breeds) fault.

Attack Disney while you're at it.   Check the facts on the popularity rises (and increase in demand therefore allowing the whole puppy mill industry to thrive) of American cocker spaniels after Lady and the Tramp, and dalmations after 101 Dalmatins (the live version).  

Make a cute cartoon version, cleverly edit regular puppy play (hours and hours of it) into 3 - 5 min scenes, add some sound effects, even some voice overs and voila, you have a ruined breed.

After certain celebs showed interest in certain breeds, *teacup* variations became prevalent.  One of which proclaims herself a "true animal lover whose heart breaks *add tears here* at every animal that is euthanized".  All the while promoting the *selective breeding* so everyone can have a purse puppy JUST LIKE HERS.  The animal is malformed.  A SERIOUS breeder would either cull or at the very least neuter or spay such an animal to STOP PERPETUATING the breeding of smaller *thereby cuter?* versions of an already small sized dog.  These *teacup* versions are 'exactly the same but smaller'  though now fraught with health problems and the accompanying vet bills not to mention the heartache when a dog that could normally be expected to live 10 - 15 years has to be put down to spare them pain at 5 or 6.

Whew...there are going to be other posts that piss me off but this one was just over the top.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Customer Service


1.  When I phone you from an English speaking country, and you don't speak English clearly or well, expect me to be crabby about it.  If I'm not, then bonus. If I am, and you take it personally the call isn't going to go well for anyone.

2.  If I call you and I'm obviously angry, don't react in a 'my day is worse than yours' manner.  Again, the call isn't going to go well. You had a bad day, I had a bad day. It's inconsiderate of either of us to inflict that upon each other.  And no, you didn't call me just to bitch.  Chances are? I didn't either. You have no idea what straws were in my load before this last one so don't make assumptions.  You are a point of contact for the business you represent.

3. The minute you make the call into a me vs you situation, you lose.  You'll most certainly lose my respect which will make it darned hard to accept anything good from you without it being suspect in some manner. Do I mean you should take shit and abuse from someone? No. Absolutely not.  But if you get pissy because I ask for someone who speaks clearer English than you do (BECAUSE I AM HARD OF HEARING AND ANY ACCENT MAKES IT DIFFICULT for me to clearly understand you) then you're not really interested in servicing the customer, are you?

3A. And if you chose to make it into a racism situation, well.. just think about that in reverse for a moment.

4. I may not have started out in a cranky mood when I first called you, but if I've been passed about like a hot potato from department to department, having to listen to the world's worse choice in music (IE blaring rock and roll or rap or anything with a hard driving beat that gets my heart racing) I'm probably going to be that way when I get to you.  This will be doubly worse if I've been hung up on by someone else, or had to jump through a series of press 8 to speak to X department 3 or more times before I get fed up and press the * or 0 for a long hold to get past your silly, supposed timesaving phone messages.  Understand that. And if I want to bitch about it for a moment or two, let me.  Really, it'll go a long way to me seeing you as an ally.

5. By all means, smile when you speak to me.  It really does come through in the sound of your voice and cadence of your speech.  However, keep the shit eating grin that tells your co worker I'm another nut bar off your face, cause guess what? That comes through as well.  Se that part about I may not have started out cranky?  This will do nothing but make certain that I am.

6. I'm not always right, but I sure as hell think I am.  If you can be right without taking that away from me, you'll be well on your way to a career in Customer Service and management.

7.  Tempting as it might be to tell me to stuff it and hang up, reconsider.  I am a customer of the business you work for.  Without customers, chances are the company will have little use for customer service personnel. We don't have to be friends but this whole thing works better if you can manage to be a double agent and be on my side as well as your company's.

Just one more thing:

All of these work equally well for customer tips.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Life is Better with a Dog

NOTE:  Long, self serving and purposely sad, with a happy ending.  Read at your own decision.

Yep it sure is. 

When Girl died in January, that was the first time in over 20 years that I did not have a dog in the house.  People talk about how freeing it is, not to have that responsibility and I can understand that; but for me, it was a gigantic hole. 

That doesn't mean we didn't love Girl and were eager to replace her (sigh people look to your own before deciding why I'm doing what okay? Just saying). It means we understood that her time with us was done and that having loved her as we did, that love was available for another dogsoul.

It goes even further back to when Girl came to live with us.  She was a stray around stock when my son brought her home because she had climbed into his truck at the first crack of thunder and refused to vacate from under the dash.  At least it was on the passenger side ;). Alright I said, to his phone call, bring her and we'll take her to the shelter in the morning.

We had dogs when he found her.  In fact we not only had our own dogs, we had his big moose of a mutt.  However, when this bedraggled, thin and weary border collie with a smucked in eye and pads worn thin came into our house she went immediately to hubby and sat down, solemnly putting her paw upon his knee.

No fear.  No notice of the other animals. Just manners and a silent plea. 

Needless to say, she didn't go to the shelter the next day.  Her muzzle was already mostly grey, her teeth worn down and a certain hesitant stiffness to her joints upon rising had us thinking that this poor old girl had had enough and could live out her days with us.  How long could she have, we thought. Maybe she'd live out the year, maybe the winter but that's probably all that was left in her.

She moved with us the following September.  That was in 2007.  She became a constant companion to our elder daughter, especially after a bout of bullying had her become a home schooled student.

Ready at any time for a game of soccer or fetch she belied her gray muzzle with her exuberance and willing heart. 

She baby sat kittens, her soft fur soaked up tears and her gentle snores as she lay at the door, always at the door lest someone try to enter, kept me company through many sleepless nights.

In 2010 she fled the housefire after the girls, her fear of loud trucks and fire overwhelming her.  A neighbour caught her and returned her to my girls as they waited for me and watched the fire ;/ She stood beside them when I got there and when we checked into the motel later that day, she laid herself down at the door.  Likewise at the rental home. 

You just knew to open the door slowly because as she grew older she didn't always hear us and sometimes we had to give a little nudge of the door against her to get her to move.  However that hearing loss wasn't apparent when a stranger knocked. She was as upright and alert as a young dog in her prime.

Slowly her age caught up with her.  Soccer sessions grew shorter and fetch was only one or two tosses before eager as she was, her panting was too obvious to continue.  Walks with my daughter grew shorter.  Instead of walking her all the way to school she'd go midway and watch her till she got to the school yard before heading home.  Likewise with her trips to the park to swing, once there Girl would flop on her side and wait, but if daughter took too long she'd get up and give her a look. "I'll meet you at home." Shake out her coat and amble home.

Seizures started to punctuate her days.  Likely connected to the head injury that she had when found.  The time had come.  The decision was made.   In January she had one that she didn't come out of and she ended her days with her head in my lap as I sat on the floor with my back against the door. 

(Don't even begin to chastise me about not taking her to a vet, I tried, but they were far more interested in my method of payment than providing this final release to her. And yes, if you ask me I will tell you the names of the three vets I called begging them to let me bring her right in).

We adjusted, or at least tried to.  At night, I could hear her toenails on the kitchen floor as she patrolled the house, checking the doors before settling down for the night.  At least, I imagined I could.  

Coming home had a different flavor to it; there was no bacon in the house and no spontaneous trips to DQ for ice cream because not getting her a small dish of it was just too sad.

Years before we'd felt this sort of loss, when our boxers, Bop and Keys left us, the same as how they came, six months apart.  Over the years we'd broached the idea of another boxer, but the timing never seemed right.  Yes, we all wanted a boxer but couldn't quite face the idea of a replacement because that's how we would have viewed any boxer coming into our lives at that time.

"So get this.  I got offered a boxer for free. 2 issues..." the text from my daughter in ON started.  Thus began a series of events that simply clicked into place, culminating with the arrival of Bronx in our life.

Normally deciding to take in an adult dog would be a much harder decision for me.  I love that people rescue animals and obviously, Girl's rescue was a success.  There's always this niggling thought for me, someone's habits, bad or good are involved. 

There was none of that. My response to this text was an expression of sadness for the owner and the circumstances involved and a question. "So should I tell D to pick him up?"

Many texts and phone calls later, Bronx arrived a little over a week ago.  A lovely mannered, happy boxer who manages to "look a little like Keys and a little like Bop all at once" -- as expressed by nearly everyone who knew them and has now met him; while all the while being his own dog.

So hell yes.... LIFE IS BETTER WHEN YOU HAVE A DOG!






Wednesday, May 08, 2013

I'm a Fan

I wrote this blog entry on another blog some years ago when Doyle *Doc* Mullaney had to pull out of the 2005 season.

I've edited it a little to clear out some snark about links and such like as they have no place in this tribute.


Doyle Mullaney passed away a couple of days ago. I read that he was fighting a grass fire on his land and had what was apparently a heart attack.

I've seen lots of tributes to him, one of the posts on Facebook definitely made me catch my breath on a sob.  "The shamrocks are flying somewhere else today". If you know chuckwagons, then you know what that means.

His service announcement  is here.


2005:

Doc Mullaney has been a fixture of the Chucks for 42 years, and for health reasons has had to leave the Rangeland Derby this year, in midstream. That seriously sucks. Now in that great article (the writing was good, the online department *comment removed in the interest of good taste) it was mentioned that it hadn't yet been decided whether Doc's wagon would be driven by other drivers (a not unprecedented occurance; the most well known incident perhaps when Richard Cosgrove's wagon was driven for the entire week following his death during a race in BC shortly before the Stampede), or whether the next ranked driver would come up the ranks.

None of that matters, although from a what's really right in my personal viewpoint, the former is the most appropriate solution.

The Doc is gone... maybe for good, from the chucks and that's the important part. While he might not be as famous as Micheal Jordan or various other *sports* figures, he's a local legend around here.

Being a lover of all things Irish, I was quite enthralled by the shamrocks on his wagon, the leprechaun remarks and good natured jokes about his Irishness, when I first arrived in the big city (aka Calgary) in '79. Chuckwagon racing has to be experienced to be understood, and not just from the grandstand my friends. Not necessarily from the seat of the wagon either, but there's a certain *feel* that you either have for it or you don't. And by the way, if you don't get chucks and rodeo, please don't clutter up my comments with pita/peta remarks, 'kay? I couldn't freaking care less what those folks have to say.

*AHEM*.

Back to Doctor Doyle. He's never been a *star*, not going to hold the records, or post the times of the Bashaw Flash, and he doesn't have the 4 generation standpoint of the Glass family but he's been my favourite driver since '79 and since this is my blog that counts a lot. :P

His career thus far

In the early '90's not only was he my favourite driver, but he was also my favourite veterinarian. I doubt he recalls the hug I gave him following a fellow driver's untimely death, when I arrived at his clinic that monday to pick up some meds for a pet. There he was, a giant of a man, with tears in his eyes, doing what he did because what else was he to do. His friend had died, that was the chance they all take.

But I can sure tell you I recall the one he gave me when he put down our cat (he'd been severely injured and we'd waited some time to see if the injury would heal); enfolding me in his large arms and holding me close as I sobbed like a 5 yo who'd lost her best friend. Telling me all the while how hard I'd worked to save him and how I'd given him more chances than most would have to get well and that yes, this had been the best solution and I was brave to have done it.

I'm also not likely to forget the tears in his eyes when I told him that the pug puppy he'd saved from parvo had been killed by smoke inhalation during a fire at the campground we were at. This vet who has been described to me as unfeeling, rough handed and abrupt (by some) held this tiny dehydrated puppy in his hands, putting in a line, swearing a blue streak I'll give you that, but the hands? The hands were as gentle as if he held a newborn babe. He fed this pup baby food by finger tip and his assistant even told me he'd taken her home to give her extra TLC. The bill? It wasn't much, Tushi survived and loved to visit the Doc.

This is the fellow that I recall a few years ago, after a rather bad wreck at the Stampede, shouldering past the eager reporter who put a mike in his face to get a sound bite. Doc growled, something to the effect of: do you mind, a friend of mine is hurt. The friend he's referring to? His horses. Quite a sound bite if you ask me.

Doc has been graced with the following awards:

1980 Battle Of The North Champion
Meadow Lake Stampede Champion
1982 WPCA Active Supporter Award
1983 WPCA Active Supporter Award
1984 WPCA Active Supporter Award
1985 WPCA Most Improved Outfit Award
1986 WPCA Active Supporter Award
1993 WPCA Chuckwagon Person Of The Year
1995 Fort Nelson Chuckwagon Champion
1996 Fort Nelson Chuckwagon Champion
2002 WPCA Clean Drive Award

Not a bad record for 42 years by any one's standards.

Here's my hat, Doctor Doyle. Here's my cheer when you leave the barrels and here's my thanks for being my favourite driver for all these years.

EDIT to add:  He celebrated his 50th year in Chuckwagons recently.  Please see the halfmileofhell.com website for more information on Doc and other drivers as well as the current season.




Sunday, April 21, 2013

Still a volunteer I guess :)


It’s been a while since I’ve posted. There's many a started and stopped draft in my folders.  

I  wanted to a time or two, out of outrage and out of wanting to share a ‘moment’ and for some reason I’ve gotten out of the habit.

So the other day, I had a chance to help out at a Senior Pro Rodeo.  These cowboys and cowgirls are over 40 and at some point competed at a pro level in rodeo. 

There are a few accommodations made for age and somewhat more brittle bones.  But for the most part these guys  and gals are competing under the same rules and conditions they would in a regular rodeo.

There are a few more for fun  events, like the rope and ribbon event where a roper ropes a calf and gets off their horse to control the calf, while his partner (a woman) snags the ribbon off the calf and races back to the chute.  There’s a lot of good-natured jeering as often enough it’s a husband and wife.

So anyway, I’m sitting at the little table I’m assigned to, selling tickets and because it was slack the crowd was a little thin.  I took advantage and was knitting along on a glove I’m making.

While one of the other volunteers and I were chatting we noticed an older cowboy approaching us. By the way he was holding his body, we could tell he was hurting.

As he came up to us, we greeted him in the way one does and we started talking about the rodeo and how it was going and such like.

He told us about how he’d torn his bicep in a previous rodeo and how that was making him use his other hand for bullriding.  I won’t go into how lipstick came up but we shared a chuckle about his using some bright red lipstick to mark his hand so he’d remember to tie in with the correct hand.

I’d offered him an advil jokingly as he had joined us and now he turned to me and said that he needed far more than an advil.  I agreed, nodding at his arm.  He said, well yes, that and my son died last night.

The other volunteer and I just… stared at each other.  We didn’t know how to answer him as he’d spoken in such a matter of fact tone.  Of course we expressed our sympathies at his loss but the conversation had come to a standstill.

He went on to tell us how his son had been disabled and how it wasn’t unexpected but still felt sudden all the same. He mentioned how everything felt out of kilter, like he'd forgotten to do something.

What floored us both was his indication that he was riding that night.  I understand that. Sometimes when life has taken an extreme corner or reversal, something usual is very welcome to give an oasis in the storm of the change.

This man, well past the age most people would consider tying themselves to a bull for the chance of an 8 second ride.  His body in pain from the injury to his arm and his heart hurting from the loss of his son, he was still going to compete; for that was his usual.

This is why I volunteer to work at rodeos; these glimpses of the real definition of ‘cowboy up’.


Sunday, July 01, 2012

Rodeo and stuff

I am a volunteer.

I will be the one smiling at you when you pick up your tickets wishing you to enjoy yourself. I will be the one wearing the silly usher’s vest and showing to you to your seat.  I will be one of the many who will go around after and pick up the debris and empty the garbage and recycle bins.

I may have sold you your ticket to event prior to it.  I might have been the one answering the phone and reciting the times and dates while you jot them down.  And the one who does that the second and sometimes third time you do that, too. Each time I’ll do my very best to do it with a smile on my face because I’m a volunteer by choice.

I’m not a paid employee of the facility or organization that’s putting on the event.  I’m there because I want to be.  I’m there because I believe in the organization that’s putting on the event and want to contribute to its success.

I don’t get to watch the show for free. Fact is I haven’t sat down in the stands in the last 7 years to watch more than a few minutes and really couldn’t tell you who won, lost or wrecked. I don’t get any ‘behind the scenes’ perks that you can’t have for the price of the event.  I don’t get to meet the performers and I don’t get to go afterwards and have a drink with them either because I’m a volunteer. 

I don’t get to harangue anyone, demanding that the event change to agree with my considerable knowledge and experience either.  I do as I’ve been asked to do in my capacity as a volunteer.  Sometimes that means I will tell you “no”.  I’m not just
‘exercising my superiority’; I’ve been entrusted with the job I’ve been given and I’m going to do it.  If that some how hurts your feelings, I’m truly sorry.

I’m not there to spoil your particular fun.  Nor am I there to baby sit your children or run your errands either.  I’m there to make every possible effort so that you and other paid patrons can enjoy the very best performance possible in the most comfortable way for all. Not just you.

I’m a part of a team.  We all fail or succeed as one.  If I stand by and let another volunteer fail, I fail. That would be nothing less that sabotage of the organization I’m volunteering to assist; and what would be the point of that?

If I micromanage someone into a state of indecision or worse, fury, I fail, just as they do.   I do my job and let others do theirs and the event succeeds and so do we all.

The best thing I can hear as I tiredly smile and wave to you all as you leave is “See you next year.” That tells me that you’ve enjoyed yourself and intend to come back and that is a true measure of our success.

See you next rodeo.