Having ranted recently about the pressure to volunteer for things my kids are involved in, I’ve only gone and been awarded the Volunteer of the Year prize by the school PTO. Ah, the irony. I suspect that, out of the many parents who give their time willingly and cheerfully on a regular basis, the nominating committee chose the grumpy Brit just for a laugh. Yes, the joke’s definitely on me.
Actually, this being America, I reckon I’ve happened upon the method of creation of the country’s legion of perky helpers. There’s clearly a grass-roots movement to isolate and convert the grudging, the cantankerous, the ones who shun all human contact in favour of, I don’t know – running a school website, for example. These individuals are the target of a sustained campaign of appreciation. Any small task they carry out is subject to grateful and sincere thanks, culminating in the deployment of a shiny trophy at the end of the year to really rev up the volunteer spirit.
America, I’m on to you. I’ll wear the team t-shirt, but you’ll never induce me to look happy about it. Four decades of conditioning limits my public outbursts of enthusiasm to a polite golf clap and a rather forced smile. Sorry about that. But thanks for the shiny trophy.