Anyone who knows me knows that I consider my time precious. Granted, I spend most of it either asleep or doing something most people would judge as wasteful, but in that respect, I agree with John Lenon, who said, “Time you enjoyed wasting, was not wasted.” In other words, it’s only wasted time if you didn’t have fun wasting it. And I have plenty of fun!
So where am I going with this?
I work at Starbucks and part of their whole mission is to be involved in the community. There are always projects going on and ways for us to help out, but I tend to either ignore these things, or just flat out not want to do them. I am not a tree-planter, house-painter, garden-hoer, or homeless-feeder. So, when my manager informed me that part of my development in moving up with the company was getting involved in my community, I got nervous.
What was I, a woman afraid of bugs and birds who calls transients “hobos” and would win the award for “Most Likely to Kill Someone Accidently with a Gardening Tool Because She is Incredibly Klutzy,” going to do in my community? I sat down with my manager and hashed out the things I could do and what I was actually willing to do. Aside from the manual labor and pretending like I don’t get uncomfortable around the homeless, there was one major category left: children.
Now, I’m not what most people would describe as “kid” person. This is mostly because I always have something sarcastic and judgmental to say when it comes to children, but really, I don’t mind them. So, after some thinking and very little organizing, one of my regulars mentioned that some of the teachers at her school needed some readers for “Read Across America,” an annual event that focuses on the importance of reading. I got a few of my fellow Starbucks partners together, we put on our finest pajamas (it was Pajama Day at school), and we headed off to read to some kids.
The first classroom I went to was first grade. I read a book called “Gerald McBoing Boing” (Yes, I am aware that the one book I picked up was the one that could easily be turned into a euphemism for something wildly inappropriate for children.) I don’t do voices, but since this book has a few sound effects, I had some fun with it. Afterwards, the teacher let the kids as me some questions, one of which was “I had a Dr. Suess pajama party last year?” I didn’t know what to say, so I just said “Oh that’s nice.”
The second classroom was kindergarten and, I have to say, they were adorable. They sat still through the story and, while that teacher wouldn’t let them ask questions, they did have a few things to say, such as “You’re pretty” and “You have nice hair.” It’s amazing how little kids know just what to say to make your day!
The other readers had a lot of fun too, reading to all ages from kindergarten through 3rd grade. Some of them even got forms to go back and volunteer more often, while another offered to donate some books.
Overall, I have to say that taking an hour to read to some kids wasn’t the worst way for me to spend an hour. While I might not be volunteering on a daily basis, it was nice to go and do something that had very little benefit for me.
Plus, I managed not to curse or say anything inappropriate to the 5 and 6 year olds, so I would call that a success.