I’ve already posted about my belief in volunteering. I spoke a little about my first real experience with it and would like to now take the time to expand on it, particularly because this week just happens to be National Volunteering Week. Some of my story has nothing to do with volunteering, but it should at least add some humor. It wasn’t so funny at the time but me and my two friends laugh about it quite a bit now. In fact, me and one friend had a pretty good chuckle talking about this very topic last night via telephone. I’m pretty convinced that trip helped solidify our friendship and helped me to form a new, long lasting friendship. So here it is, The “Jody” Experience.
I mentioned before I really had no clue what I was getting into despite my friend’s best efforts. Mandy and I lived caddy corner from each other, which is how we met. My roommate (and now also one of my best friends) and one of her roommates were high school buds so we all hung out. This all happened at the University of Northern Colorado. Anyway, it was after winter break and of course we were already talking about spring break- go figure. She had plans to be apart of Alternative Spring Break and was headed to Detroit, Mich., to do volunteer work, talking to kids about violence prevention. This meant working with a group called Save Our Sons and Daughters. She told me about it a couple of times but none of the information ever really sank in for whatever reason. Finally, she asked if I wanted to go along as I didn’t have plans and her group diminished with students giving up on their commitments. I said sure why not. It’s perfectly normal for college kids to want to head to Detroit for spring break. Imagine that talk with the parental units. Fortunately mine were fine with it, which to this day astounds me really. It amazes me the things my parents didn’t argue with me on or how they didn’t think I was totally nuts in college but it all worked out and was for the best.
Anyway, after all that’s said and done it would be a group of six going on this little adventure: Mandy, co-site leader James, “Jody,” “David,” Sara and myself (Jennifer – just in case some of you may be inclined to call me Stormy). I’m sure by now you’re putting together that “Jody” is the problem I’ve eluded to and for whom this post is named for haha. She was an experience and I’d say I wish I could undo that experience but that would mean undoing all the rest and that’s no bueno. Just have to learn the lesson as my dad would say (and of course have a few jokes at her expense from time to time).
It all started when she freaked out the day we were supposed to leave (which was a Friday) after picking up the much smaller van we’d travel in instead of a 15-passenger van. We almost didn’t go because she panicked over having to be a responsible adult (she was 21 mind you and the rest of us were what 19 I think). There was just some technicality in the rental but really as a group we’d never really make her solely responsible so it was ridiculous particularly because we were supposed to leave THAT DAY! We had a commitment. Ugh. That’s how the week started. Imagine how it ended.
It’s been long enough I can’t remember all the details. I remember certain highlights and that’s what I’ll stick to for now. It doesn’t help that “David” is my friend Mandy’s ex-boyfriend and um the man says pacifically when he means specifically. Need I say more? They had broken up just before the trip so that added tension. He was being a total jerk to her and then we all had to watch him make an ass of himself as he threw himself to “Jody,” who wouldn’t even so much as glance his way. If you ask me, that was just karma. He followed her like a puppy dog. It was pathetic. The first couple of days were okay when we arrived in Detroit, but then hell would slowly break loose over the week, with “Jody” revealing more and more of her truly ugly personality. I’ve never met anyone so incredibly selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed or any other self-word that has a negative connotation. This woman was unbelievable AND to add insult to injury, she was in school to be a teacher. I hope that never happened.
Part of why I say all that is because she continually put others down (and I don’t mean “David.” I’m not real concerned with him). It was always about “Jody” and what she wanted to do, etc. She kept butting heads with Mandy, which was total bullhonky. Mandy had one night where she had a bit of a meltdown and then it was Wednesday or Thursday night that Sara finally had a meltown. Boy that night was epic. I hardly knew Sara, having only met her through this experience, but that lady really just let “Jody” have it. Tears and all she ripped “Jody” a new one. It was wonderful. I’m pretty sure it was a bonding experience for me, Sara and Mandy. For me, what I couldn’t stand was how two-faced “Jody” was to people. The ladies at Save Our Sons and Daughters, the nonprofit group we were sent to work with, are absolutely wonderful. “Jody” would say some really awful things about these ladies behind their backs and what could we do? It was incredibly frustrating, infuriating and more. I kept thinking “how can a woman who acts like this ever be a teacher,” particularly because she would be that nasty about the schools and teachers we worked with also. It was despicable to say the least.
I finally had my breakdown the night we headed home, which was a Friday night. There was a flat tire and apparently “Jody” had the brilliant idea that she and James go get help while leaving the other four behind. Hell I was still asleep and hardly knew what the hell was going on at the time. A couple of guys and this chick pulled over to help us and that’s when “Jody” came up with the idea of taking off to get help, which I might not have minded had everyone been involved in that talk but some of us were still sleeping and didn’t have a clue there was an issue. It was in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere mind you. “David” was getting extra irritating that night too, if you can believe that. I didn’t even know it was possible. The folks in the one car came back to talk to us about stuff and informed us that yet again “Jody” had no problem with leaving us in the middle of nowhere. My guess is so she could be with James all by herself despite having a boyfriend and his having a girlfriend. Don’t get me wrong, James was classy the whole time. It was “Jody” who kept throwing herself at him the whole time, including making sure she slept next to him in sleeping bags and of course during the course of the week, ditching her pajamas for a t-shirt that hardly covered her. Lame.
Anyway, by now I was more than awake. I was livid! I’ve never wanted to cause bodily harm to a person more than that night. How ironic given I was just talking to a bunch of kids about preventing violence… hmmm. Here’s a tip: don’t be an asshole and you significantly reduce the risk of others wanting to cause you bodily harm. Sara and Mandy could only laugh by now because they’d already had their breakdowns. When James finally came back with a tow company to help us, I told him he’s lucky as hell that he came back and not “Jody” because I woulda pounded her. It was one thing to strong will us to do what she wanted during the week, it was another to do what she wanted in a situation that could have been hazardous to the rest of us. Like I said, during all this “David” had become much worse too, insisting on turning off the hazard lights off because it would kill the van’s battery. Perhaps so but in the middle of the night with very little light, not a good idea. Visibility is fairly important when stranded on the side of the road and people are still IN the vehicle. Well, needless to say, somehow we all, yes even “Jody,” managed to make it home in one piece. Praise the Lord.
When it came to the volunteering, it was truly amazing. As I said before, the ladies, and men, at SOSAD were awe-inspiring. The group was started by Clementine Barfield, who’s son was killed by gun violence. Everyone at the group had lost a family member(s) or friend(s) to violence. We learned some disturbing statistics about Detroit and the number of guns in that city. I remember thinking it was very interesting that most of the violence wasn’t even gang related. This would be backed up by the stories we’d hear from the kids. Listen to a 8 or 9 year old kid tell you about how they fear even walking to school because there’s so much violence and that will get to you every time. I went to try and teach those kids about alternatives to violence, but they really taught me how grateful I was to have a real childhood. They taught me the importance of being willing to hear others’ stories. They taught me the importance of just talking and listening and letting them know that someone does care. They taught me more than I ever could have imagined. I would have that experience two more times. I probably won’t discuss the third but I do want to talk about the second one but that too will be a different post.
Volunteering is absolutely priceless. The people you help get so many intangibles and then you too get so much in return (not that you should volunteer for what you get back). It’s incredibly rewarding and in my eyes, particularly when it comes to kids. Do try to remember though that you aren’t always going to see the results of your volunteering. Members of our group did see some results when kids started calling SOSAD at the end of the week wanting to talk and figure things out – that was incredible. So go forth bloggers – take the time to give your time. If you can’t do that, donate some blood. There is no greater gift than that of life.
p.s. the names in parenthesis were changed to protect the guilty. 🙂