March 31st, 2007

Missing the train, Service Raleigh, and the big ass disco party that wasn't...

Jason's Walking-Around License Gets Revoked

Burly man who pulled frat boy out of tracks: Dude, are you drunk?

Frat boy: Ah... Ah... I don't know. I guess I had something to drink.

Burly man: Dude, next time you get on a train make sure it's there first!

—1-2-3 platform, 96th St

via Overheard in New York, Mar 31, 2007

I was up at 7:30 and at Reynolds Coliseum at 8:00AM. Walking in, I ran into Kim et. al., and walked with them to the front section of the gym, which was sectioned off for today's event.

Welcome to Service Raleigh, a one-day, annual event at State, where a huge number of volunteers (started out at 100 at its inception 10 years ago this year, to 2000 today), meet in the morning, get fed a little breakfast, and then are farmed out across the city to help various organizations needing volunteer help for the day.

Breakfast consisted of bagels and cream cheese from Bruegger's and glazed doughnuts from Krispy Kreme. Our group met in the "Silver G" section, which was up in the bleachers and marked off with a silver-colored helium balloon with a big "G" attached to it. There, we collected our free t-shirts, finished breakfast, and listened to a few very short speeches, before heading out to our assignment for the day.

I was thankful that we weren't assigned to something like picking up trash somewhere, or planting any trees, or any kind of gardening or landscaping, as 1) I don't enjoy that kind of work, and 2) it usually aggravates my back.

What we were assigned to was helping with the MADD Strides for Change 5K Walk, which was conveniently held (2 miles from my house) on NC State's Centennial Campus.

As it turned out, what they really needed us for was to help "tear down" the event at its completion. It started at 9AM; we arrived at about 9:20 and then waited until it ended at about 11:30 to provide a helping hand.

At probably 9:40 or 9:45, the walkers started coming back, so we all lined up along the sidewalk and clapped for them as they came down the "finish line," which was, in reality, no more than, well, the line at which they finished.

People are funny. There were a lot of different reactions to our clapping.

A lot of the walkers had dogs, and most of them spent the time walking in front of us yanking on their dogs' leashes as they (the dogs) tried to make their ways to the side to check us out.

One lady had iPod earbuds in, and totally ignored us. I joked, "She's probably had a clapping soundtrack podcast playing the entire 5-K walk, to which we can't possibly compare."

In the realm of irony, it occurred to both Sarah and I at just about the same time, that probably, a lot of these people were walking because they've had a loved one killed by a drunk driver. Somehow clapping seemed less than appropriate in that context.

The most annoying thing of all to me about the day was the band that was playing as the entertainment. It was obviously a Christian band—obvious by the word Jesus in at least every other song.

What almost put me over the edge was when the lead singer started with, "Yes, we're all children of God. Ladies! On the count of three I want all the ladies out there to say, 'Yeah! One. Two. Three. Ladies, yeah!'"

Ladies cheered, "Yeah."

"Okay, ladies now on the count of three, I want you to yell, 'I am a princess. One. Two. Three. Ladies!'"

"I am a princess," in cascading unison.

"That's right, ladies. You are a princess, because you are the daughter of a King."

This is the kind of thing, that had I not been a volunteer for the day, and a leader within the group I was volunteering with, I would have departed the premises at that very instant.

The most poignant thing about the day to me was a "Memorial Board" they had available to view with pictures of many, many people who had been killed by drunk drivers.

I noted a couple of things while contemplating it:
  1. The deliberate choice of the phrase, "Killed on such-and-such date" instead of "Died on such-and-such date" under each person's picture and name.

  2. How most pictures were actual pictures, but a few were pictures obviously cut out from newspaper obituaries.

  3. The many, many young people reminded me of how I wept when I first saw the AIDS Quilt and on how so many of the panels were such young, beautiful boys.
The next most poignant thing was probably the lady who spoke about her mother who had been killed in January of 2006.

After telling us a little bit about her mother, she read the words of a song that she wanted to share that really touched her, and at least showed some respect for others' beliefs by starting off with, "Our family practices the Christian faith, but I think this song talks to everyone, no matter what your beliefs are." Of course the words about Jesus in the song sort of mitgated the attempted respect.

Following her speech was a one-minute "candlelight vigil," that didn't work so well 1) in the daytime, and 2) in the wind. My candle was lit for less than 10 seconds, but I didn't relight it, instead of the "their spirit burns on" flame metaphor, actually preferring the "their lives were snuffed out," blown-out-flame metaphor.

After an amazing number of awards were presented, we started with the "break down" process, which included folding and stacking tables and chairs, cutting down and rolling up banners, collecting signs, drink containers, cases of soda, and road cones around the area.

In one area, the road was blocked off because some folks were filming a "driverless car" they had created. They were preparing for a visit, tomorrow, to be filmed by someone from the BBC.

Dancing was okay fun last night. We only had, other than myself, Carl, Bill, Rick, and Michael in terms of dancers, and we quit a couple of minutes before 10:30, as the "Big Ass Disco Party" evidently was ready to start.

We segued into it by doing, as our last dance, the dance named MLD to Cher's Believe. Not exactly disco, but closer to disco than country.

Personally, I didn't think the disco music was being played nearly loud enough, and I left as soon as my request, Kung Fu Fighting, finished playing.