Saturday, August 15, 2009

Public Service

For any who are unaware, my favorite radio station on the planet is WUOT. They are the NPR affiliate that is associated with the University of Tennessee. There are a number of reasons why I enjoy them so much, but I'll only list a few here:

  1. They play classical music, which, while I know little about it, I still enjoy.
  2. I like the hosts, my favorite of whom is Chrissy Keuper, the host of Morning Edition. She has a very soothing tone, and helps me relax, even during world crises.
  3. I am afforded the opportunity, at least twice a year, to hang out at the station during the fund drives. The food is excellent, and the company better, while the conversation subject matter can range from Keirkegaard to Pamela Anderson, and all places in between.
  4. For some inexplicable reason, they seem to appreciate my rather meager efforts on their behalf.
WUOT will be celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and to celebrate, they are holding an open house on Tuesday, August 18th. To aid in preparation, I sojourned to the the station a couple of days ago to perform slave duty for Lisa Beckman, the Membership Coordinator (which is business-ese for "the one who deals with the unemployed nuts who want to help"). Most of the labor was of the manual variety, with which I am uncannily familiar.

When I first arrived, I fully intended to store my truck -- for the duration -- in Circle Park Drive. What I should have done was tell the attendant that I would be going to the McClung Museum, so that he would provide me a two hour pass. Being a guy, however, I'm not gifted with that kind of foresight. When I arrived at Circle Park, the conversation went thusly:

Me: "I'm going to WUOT to work for a couple of hours. Can I get a two hour pass?"

Attendant: "I can only give you a 45-minute pass."

Me: "What if I tell you I'm going to the museum?"

Attendant: "But you're not."

There were a few more limited sentences, but I could see that the young man took his job much more seriously than I, so I accepted the 45-minute pass, and resolved to move my truck every hour or so.

When I first arrived in the station proper, Lisa wasn't quite prepared, which I attribute to two phenomena: I was a tad early; and, she's probably used to being stiffed by volunteers who make empty promises. After it was established that I was on site and ready for work, she got her station map, and dragged me back, forth, east and west, moving and hefting.

As a guy, I expected to perform most of the actual labor, 'cuz, hey, I'm a guy. But every time I turned my back, Lisa was lifting and moving things that were bigger than she is. At one point, we had moved some new, as yet uninstalled, electronic equipment into a particular spot, and cousin David Williamson (his mother -- of Irish heritage -- was burdened with the maiden name "Loftis") expressed -- rather sternly -- that the servers would have to be moved into an area under lock and key. I believe he would have preferred an armed guard, also, except he's one of those left-wing-lunatic-anti-gun-nuts.

I razzed L'il Davey some about his serious attitude, then later, I thought, "You shouldn't have been such a derriere; he's just trying to protect a rather significant investment." So I stopped in his cubbyhole to express my understanding about the fact that, at some point, somebody always has to be the hardass. David began to explain his position, whereupon I elucidated, telling him that there was no need for him to explain; he was, obviously, just doing his job.

He looked a little puzzled, and I wondered if he had ever had a volunteer who expressed the understanding that business is business.

After the second time that I had to go move my truck, Lisa suggested that I park it in the staff parking lot behind the Communications Building. Since it was already 4:30 PM, and it is legal for me to be there after 5:00 PM, I took her suggestion -- more on that later.

After a while, I told Lisa that I needed to check my blood glucose level. I'm still acclimating to having an insulin pump, and sometimes I don't do things the right way. I was perspiring too much for the work I was doing, and I was more fatigued than was warranted. So my blood sugar was -- um -- low, and I inquired with Louise Higman about the nearest drink machine, to which she directed me with unerring efficiency.

I sat in Cindy Hassil's office, drinking my Coke while the three of us passed the time. After several minutes, I felt back to normal, and Lisa and I began generating more perspiration. At some point, we began hanging signs that set newbies in the proper direction, and told people not to eat and drink in the control areas. Now, Lisa is a little -- how shall I say this -- particular. She was attempting to hang signs from the suspended ceiling using only 8 1/2 X 11 sheets of copy paper and Scotch tape. And she wanted them to be perfectly straight. Girls are funny, aren't they?

She would stand on a chair to adjust a sign, hop down and eyeball it from ten feet. Back up into the chair; down; eyeball, repeat.

After another little while, all the tables that could be moved had been, all the signs that could be hung were, and we had rolled a grand piano across the performance studio and into a corner out of the way. Also, David, if you read this, the servers are locked in Dan's office.

Lisa expressed her appreciation for the minimal work I had performed, and sent me on my way. When I got back to my truck, which was now in the staff parking lot, I found a ticket from my favorite law enforcement officers, the UT cops. It was generated at 17:01, which, for the uninitiated, is 5:01 PM.

It is legal to park there after 17:00, and the ticket said 17:01. Hmmmmm. So I did what I normally do with them. I wadded it up and threw it into the nearest trash receptacle. What are they gonna do, come to Philadelphia and impound my truck? They haven't yet.

I was glad for this opportunity, because, though I have conquered a number of tasks here at home over the last few weeks, helping someone else gives me a different sense of accomplishment; more satisfying somehow. And it makes me feel useful again, which is different.

No comments:

Post a Comment