Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Luncheon

I attended a 'thank you' luncheon for my volunteering the other day. There were about 30 people there...staff and volunteers from all the county libraries. Yes, our county is quite rural with only 30 in attendance from 4 libraries.

I was not eager to go because I would only know the head of the library where I volunteered. I rarely crossed paths with the other volunteers in my library because it is so small that only one volunteer can be working at a time.  Everyone else at the luncheon would be a stranger.  But I told myself to grow up and go up.

I arrived at the restaurant about 5 minutes early and at the same time as a librarian-looking lady. I smiled at her across the parking lot assuming we were going to the same place. I entered the restaurant which was quiet and only a few tables busy and waited for a waitress or hostess.  The lady from the parking lot stood behind me and then pushed me aside gently and said, "We are supposed to go straight on back."  She huffled on ahead 
to a noisy room at the far end of the restaurant with not so much as a smile or look-back .

Wow, such friendliness. I put my tail between my legs and followed her to the party room. There were several long tables with a few scattered ladies sitting and talking and others standing in small groups. I looked around to see if there was a table or greeting area or name tag place. Nope. I didn't know anyone.  I stood blankly for a minute and another lady, at least she was smiling, told me to take a seat and the waitress would come take my drink order.

I crossed to the table at the far end of the room with about 4 people sitting and found a chair.  When I looked around I was happy to see the Director of the library where I volunteered seated just down from me.  The 2 women across from her were talking intently about some town festival and I sat there waiting for a pause in the conversation, or at least eye recognition from the lady I will call Trudy.  No such luck.  I sat with the stupidest smile plastered on my face pretending I was understanding whatever they were laughing about for at least 5 minutes.

Finally I caught Trudy's eye and she smiled and then introduced me to the others.  At just about this time the din of conversation in the room got quite loud.  Several more people arrived.  Librarians are a noisy group when away from the shushing of the library!!  I worked hard to hear what people were saying and to actively put in my two cents, trying to be as sociable as I could without screaming or saying what again and again.

By the time the food arrived the noise became lower as people stuffed their faces.  Only one brave man (a black man) was at a table.  The rest of the people knew each other but seemed to be in little clicks from each library.

One of my reasons for volunteering was to get to know people in the community a little better and since these people came from county wide, it probably wasn't the best venue for this goal.

I ate my lunch, and made as much small talk (which I hate, hate, hate) as I could to make nice.  At least I talked.  The other volunteer across from me only said about three sentences the whole luncheon. 

There were the traditional little speeches.  We got our little certificates and a mag-lite gift and our photos taken for the newsletter.

After about two and a half hours of this fun-filled time, I got back in the car and went home.  Still looking for some fulfillment.  Also, surprised at how being a hostess at an event such as this is a lost skill.

(Heading out for a lengthy trip to the to other side of the continent.  May not have Internet access.  Will be thinking of you and making mind posts that I am sure I will forget when I return!)


  1. Ah, I don't go to similar things for all the reasons you mentioned. have a good time away!

  2. I absolutely hate events like that! I will do my best not to go to them. Sorry there was not a good hostess at this event for you. She could have made it so much more enjoyable. So sad!!!
    Have a great trip!!

  3. O dear, what a disaster. A glass of wine might have helped things along a bit.
    Librarians are meant to be civilized people; whatever happens to the social graces.

    Poor Tabor, just avoid them in future.

  4. If only your trip had been scheduled a tad earlier... you'd have had a good excuse not to go. ;) Enjoy Canada, eh?

  5. Oh, my...I was at a very similar luncheon (retired teachers of our county) just yesterday. I knew two people there and the guest speaker--the guest speaker being the only reason I went this time.

  6. two and a half hours? I would not have lasted nearly as long. I am not good at chatting up people I don't know.

  7. omg, i feel so bad for you! the next time that they have a party, i hope you can avoid attending because you are conveniently "sick" .. as in sick of them!

    sadly, the behavior you describe sounds SO GERMAN -- you haven't moved to germany, have you?

  8. Just say "no." ;-)I avoid volunteer meetings and their ilk like the plague. Good traveling!

  9. Acccck. I feel your pain. At times like this how I wish I could small-talk, but I was born without that gene and become agonizingly mute on these occasions.
    Well, no more thank-you parties for exactly 12 months. They only schedule these things once a year, no more, no less, and exactly a year apart. Now you can forget it and enjoy your trip!

  10. I do go to lunch at the thrift store every once in a six of us work at once. Plus, still operating on student thinking, free food is free food. :) Yes, it is good you went. :)

    And....Yes, we have internet access out here on the other side of the world. :) Have a great trip.

  11. My dear sweet Tabor - your older sister has been there and done that - more times then I will mention. Just trying to become involved and know people around me.
    When I moved to the country and tried so hard - my son told me that I was trying to make myself like people I really did not have anything in common with.
    I am back here - but doing my thing. The woods, gardening, writing and learning about my camera.

  12. I'm sorry your luncheon turned out to be a dud...but maybe down the road some good will come of it. Have a great time on your trip and be safe!

  13. Oh My ----You and I are exactly alike when it comes to things like that... I detest them... It's nothing but pure agony... That's why I don't do it anymore....

    Hope you have a wonderful trip... I'll be waiting to hear all about it.


  14. What I really heat is when the hostess makes each one get up, say our name and something about ourselves. UGH!

  15. Sheer numbing exhaustion. Hope you can have a rest now.

  16. Oh no, Tabor! I was certain when I started reading this that it was going to turn into a story of "...but then we all had a marvelous time" because volunteers are usually so friendly, and in groups even more so.

    You poor woman, that sounds like a task and a half. I wonder if it has to do with the nature of volunteering at a library as opposed to something more social, you know? Either way, kind of dismal way and awkward way to spend an afternoon.

    I hope you enjoy your trip :-) By the way, you did exceptionally well, I think. I'm not kidding when I say after that woman pushed passed me, I probably would have evaluated the situation, and hied myself home with a quickness. "This or a good book at home? This or a nice movie with the company of my dog? This or...yeah, bye!"

    Big props just for sticking it out.

  17. I'm not sure how I'll handle such situation. Probably, I'll just eat and run. hahaha :)

    Thanks for always checking me out Tabor. Hope you'll have a great trip.

  18. I am sorry your luncheon was not enjoyable...
    But I anjoy your writing!

    Have a great time on your trip. I am looking forward to see photos.

  19. I got to this late because of being involved with guests and house and art show. I hope you are enjoying your trip and that if you ever get out my way you will stop by.

  20. I would go for the food! I hope it was good. I was right there with you as I read but that didn't help you at the time! I am so awkward at events like that. I make myself talk too and usually appreciate the stretch but I always feel out of place. I felt your pain.

    Have a good trip!

  21. I volunteered at the local library for the same reasons. The (all ancient) ladies were wonderful. But thats hard to find these days.

  22. I don't like those functions either. Reminds me of a few terrible conferences. The social graces, haven't seen them in ages..


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