Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sunday @ NPR

This past Sunday was one of my twice yearly treks to DC for the express purpose of volunteering at WAMU for their annual member drive. As always we sit and answer the phones, taking pledges, and eating donated food, which often is not that great on Sunday nights. (On the two occasions I volunteered during the day, the food was awesome.)

Well, I got a little bit excited and got up there waaaaay early, so I hung out for a while with my niece. Then we decided to leave Judy's place at 5:00ish because my GPS remains devilish and we really didn't know what to expect in terms of how Jane was going to take us or what the traffic in town might look like. Oddly enough, Jane was cooperative and the traffic was light and we made it up there in plenty of time. So much in fact that we were at WAMU before 5:45. So we just had to sit there as the volunteer start time for the 7pm show is 6pm. We got to see Ed Walker arrive (he's the host of The Big Broadcast) and then the craziest thing happened.

We were parked on a meter outside the Sport and Health Club, which is right across the street from the station. We were the first meter on that side, and up ahead of my car was a tow away zone. We're sitting there gabbing and all of a sudden, this white van--and we're talking a FULL SIZED VAN, not the family funmobile--decides to cram itself into the 6 inches between the front of my car and the tow zone sign.

So I'm like, "Um, I don't think this is going to work out so well" and then the guy starts backing in. And I'm talking this van is getting closer and closer and closer. And finally, I had no recourse--there was a car parked behind me fairly close--I had to start laying on the horn. And guess what? IT DID NO GOOD! The guy kept coming. We were leaning back in our seats while I was laying on the horn, and finally, with literally 2 inches to spare, the guy gets out of his van and comes around the back. Judy yells at him, and he looks at us and GETS BACK IN THE VAN AND STARTS BACKING UP AGAIN.

How he did not hit the car, I do not know, but I assure you, he would have had one hell of an insurance claim on his hands. Then he went into the health club and worked out. I was like, "Go f'ing figure, right?" I get out of the car and check, and there was not room to stand sideways between the two vehicles. There was literally an inch to spare. I was thinking, "If this dude isn't out of here by 10:00, I'm officially calling the cops myself to have him towed." Of course, DC parking never showed up to tow the son of a gun, so I guess they aren't too concerned about fire zones in the District.

So 6pm rolls around and in we go. We stopped at the tables of books out in the lobby and selected a few freebies. This time I walked away with Robert Bosnak's Tracks in the Wilderness of Dreaming, Masha Hamilton's The Camel Bookmobile, Cheryl Simone and Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev's Midnights With the Mystic, and Robert Schwartz's Courageous Souls: Do We Plan Our Life Challenges Before Birth?. Rather heavy on new age and mysticism, but I'm excited to read the pre-birth challenges book in particular due to the fact that I read a book in which a psychic claimed to be talking to late Princess Diana who imparted to the psychic that she and Charles had pre-planned everything before either of them was even born as there were challeges they each needed to face for their souls to grow.

Ok, it's a little crackpot when it's the late Princess of Wales talking, but still the idea intrigues me. So I'm interested to see what this guy's basis for such an idea is.

Anyway, so we go inside and they have re-arranged the room. Up until Sunday night, we had "OUR TABLE" that we had always sat at, but our table was officially gone. We gave the volunteer coordinator a little bit of crap and then selected a new OUR TABLE which turned out to be the very first table I sat it the very first time I ever volunteered. So that was kinda cool.

So we're sitting around and Rob Bamberger (host of Hot Jazz Saturday Night) comes around and shakes hands with everyone and stops at our table and asks if we volunteered. So I pipe up that not only do we, but that my sister has never once said hello to Ed Walker and has always been too nervous to do so. So Rob says, "Well, we'll have to fix that, I'll be back later!" and disappears.

The tables where you volunteer seat 4. So we were soon joined by an older black gentleman named Sid and an older white woman named Deborah. The 2 of them seemed to know each other and before long, the four of were talking like old friends in and around the calls, which started rolling in at exactly 7:10pm.

In a sign of the times, this Sunday was the first time in the 3 or so years I've been volunteering that I've had calls where people apologized for being unable to do more and have contributed such amounts as $20. As late as last fall, the show raised over $30,000 in one night. This night, it was not to be. We probably did somewhere close to $22,000, but it was definitely in small amounts. My largest donation was $250, and it has not been unheard of for me to get donations of $500 in the past.

So we get through the breaks and the evening has worn on and I'm thinking Rob has forgotten about us when he pops over to our table and says, "When Ed came out, did he ask for Judy?" So I said, "Nope!" and shook my head sadly. "Well he was supposed to!" said Rob. "It's not his fault," Judy said, weasling out of it, "He came out in the midst of volunteer training." So Rob says, "OK, Judy, come with me" and she stands up and he takes her right into the studio, throwing me a wink over his shoulder as they depart. HILARIOUS! She came back blushing furiously and uttered, "I'm going to kill you!" Apparently she wasn't entirely successful at talking to him in the studio either. hahahaha I gotta send Rob a thank you email.

So, I'm not sure what caused it to be brought up, but towards the end of the night, we were sitting and talking about things and Sid mentioned one of the office workers at the station and Deb immediately chimed in that said office worker was anorexic. Sid leapt to her defense and said she was just skinny. So Deb said, "It's too bad she's not working, you guys could decide. She is so skinny and she's got a big head of black hair." We all laughed a bit at that image and then the phone rang at Deb's station and she answered it using her work name, like "Hello, Vandalay Industries" or wherever she worked. So we all started cracking up.

She is wrapping up her call and Sid's phone rings. Deb hangs up, and guess who strolls in at that exact moment? A young woman, extremely skinny with a big head of black hair. Yup! It was her! And we agreed she was anorexic, and the three of us started dying laughing. And poor Sid is on the phone, turns to see what we're laughing about, catches sight of this poor girl, and he busts out laughing into the phone, which only caused us to laugh even harder. Finally he says to whoever he's talking to, "We're having a time over here!" and I guess the guy on the phone started laughing too, and the volunteer coordinator and the phone room coordinators were like, "Geez, I guess that's the party table over there!" Boy, it was funny. I don't know what was so funny about it, but I had to take my phone off the hook--I was doubled over, crying. I'm laughing now!

So it was another great night at WAMU. I love volunteering there for the OTR show and meeting other people and getting free books. Hopefully in the fall we'll get to see Deb and Sid again!

2 pearl(s) of wisdom:

Sarah said...

That sounds like so much fun! You guys must have had a blast.

Talmadge Gleck said...

One should never apologize for making a $20 pledge to Public Radio. As I've said countless times on the air during our pitches, "Give what you can, even if it's a small amount - even five bucks. Consider that if everyone who listened ponied up a meager five-spot each, we'd far surpass our goal.

If anyone apologized to me were I to be "personing" the phones, that would be my response. Good for them for supporting their local NPR member station. We can't have too many folks like them.