that when you offer a service, there is inevitably going to be that person who thinks he/she is entitled to DEMAND some perceived right versus those who are GRACIOUS for a privilege?

Don’t get your feathers ruffled, I am not about to get into a welfare debate – I work in human services!

No I’m talking about a couple different scenarios that played out before me this week.

Number 1:
I work in a municipal human services office. My boss and I administer two grant programs, one federal and one municipal, which are available to area non-profits providing services and/or housing to low-income persons. Grant applications were due last month. Promptly after applications started rolling in, I began working on a presentation schedule. This is so that the applicants have the opportunity to pitch their programs and proposals before the citizen advisory boards who make the funding recommendations to City Council. As accomodating a high level of customer satisfaction is a top priority for our office, I proceeded to:

-ask all applicants if they had a preference for day versus evening presentations, and as I heard from folks, scheduled accordingly

-place agencies I hadn’t heard from on the schedule with tentative indicators

-call such agencies to confirm convenience of the tentative dates

-re-schedule if necessary, and call to confirm with a final date, time and location

One applicant didn’t confirm with my tentative time, after everyone else had – did I mention I had to schedule 53 of these puppies in a month’s time?

She called me, told me the date and time I had put her down for simply would not work – she has another job! – and very rudely pointed out that it was spring break last week and didn’t I know better than to expect confirmations that week?

Uhhhhh, yes and no. Yes, I knew it was spring break and that’s why I called her TWICE the week before, to no avail. And no, I thought that if receiving funding truly mattered to the applicants, they would make themselves available via checking voicemails and getting back to me!

I looked the schedule over to see if we had any gaps or anything on a different date. There were two end of the evening spots and one end of the afternoon, which of course was a conflict b/c it was too late in the day for her to get a substitute teacher to cover it. So I calmly told her the only things available were the two evening slots and the original slot. This had, also, already been noted in a voicemail from me.

Begin the pushing…”You don’t have anything else you can give me?”

On the phone, tone is EVERYTHING, even more than the actual words. I clenched my pen and scribbled furiously on scratch paper….furious at her gall!

“I’m sorry, no. Everyone else has confirmed already, some agencies twice b/c of a scheduling error I made. I simply cannot rearrange 52 presentations for 1, especially at this point when schedules have been published.”

(Everything is a public hearing and has to be advertised in the paper, library, etc)

And here’s the thing that gripes at me: She’s kicking a gifthorse in the mouth with this attitude! What happened to graciousness? She’s old enough to be my grandmother and she’s this rude? I do NOT ever want to hear another older person moan about my generation!


Number 2:
Our church has a program called Date Your Mate. It is available to any parent with children aged 0-13, and provides parents with a free night of child care the 3rd Friday of every month from 6-10pm. Well, almost free. Parents pay by providing the childcare once every so often. Last year b/c we had so few couples, we had to do it twice a year, but still, 8 hrs of babysitting for 40 hrs out? Pretty swell trade. And, now that there are more folks participating, we’ll only have to serve once/year. We rotate down the list of families who are participating, and as new folks come in, their names are added to the end of the list. This way it keeps a fair period of time between serving for everyone.

I recently began co-coordinating this program, and due to the number of children, needed to seek volunteers from the church body to help the serving parents with childcare. I tried to “sell” my request by putting concrete dates to it and telling people we just needed them to help one Friday a year.

One of the new parents e-mailed me today. She told me, not asked, me to find someone to switch their month out with b/c her husband’s b’day was that month, and she had asked me not to assign them to August anyway.

First of all, you don’t have to serve that month – just don’t expect to reap the benefit too; you don’t have to have free nights of care. However, if you want those nights, you have to play like everyone else and pay your time. Couples can swap with others if the date’s inconvenient – but it’s not the coordinator’s task! I remind everyone at the beginning of the month who’s doing the care, things to bring, and the date. I also remind volunteers who have signed up for that month. That in itself is a ton of work!

I of course kept that to myself as I reminded her of the reason why the policy is like it is, encouraged her to check with Couples X and Y, and yada yada.

What I have a hard time with is this lack of gratitude for people’s hard work! Why are people like that?