The Day the Volunteers went on Strike

Why we write these blogs

Excerpt from “Politics IOU” by Ella Bevan

Liberty in the medical sector in Shadow City, was evaporating like a mist on a summer morn.

The cost of medications had skyrocketed until they reached a level higher than what the average man could pay. Big Pharma had decided that they would have to find someone to pick up the exorbitant tab. When electronics also entered into the field of medicine with its expensive diagnostic machines, one after another hospital (all in deep fiscal trouble)  began to fail. All over the nation (and especially in Health Care) the numbers weren’t  adding up.

Health Care endangers LIberty

 

Nice Government Men, all with the best of intentions (and an eye on the next election) had legislated that all the hospitals had to treat anybody who arrived at their doors in Emergency; whether citizens, whether they had the funds or the insurance or not.  Indigents and illegals quickly took advantage. The hospitals were being forced  into free service = free fall. It was a medical fiscal cliff.

Rith, the Director of Volunteer Services in Shadow Community Hospital was a woman whose good looks were understated. She loved her volunteers and she loved the hospital for her job gave her the opportunity to help others. She had known her hospital was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and that the Board of Directors had sacked the old CEO and appointed a new and younger corporate leader. This didn’t phase her for the hospital did not have to pay her volunteers.  Because Rith was popular and a good organizer, her Auxiliary was able to pick  up several vital  hospital functions that had been dropped after the recent layoffs.

She didn’t like the new man; this new pompous CEO, but who was she to say? She was content to stay out of the limelight, do her job and do it well. She figured that in the end it would all come out alright. There were sick people and an aging population and they all needed help. The need was not going to go away.

She walked along the slate pathway through the exquisite rose garden past the patio, giving her fundraiser Ginsee a cheerful wave.  The new CEO had banished her fundraising events from the front lobby to the patio, and she knew that the Auxiliary-Pledge, usually a very generous gift to the hospital, would be about half this year.  The volunteers were just not getting the support from the hospital that they deserved.

Rith had almost reached the entrance to the hospital when she saw or rather heard the commotion. What was going on?  She could see her seventy-five octogenarian volunteers parading in a long line in front of the newly remodeled hospital entrance.   Some volunteers were behind walkers, some were leaning on walking sticks, and many were in power-wheelchairs or on scooters. Everybody was there; Rith had not seen such a turn-out of her volunteers before. It was something else! They were holding up (or trying to hold) big, heavy, aggressive, bold signs.

“NO FREE LUNCH, NO FREE WORK!”

“WE WANT OUR VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION DINNER”

“WE DEMAND AN AUDIT OF OUR CONTRIBUTIONS”

“WE ‘RE THE PINK LADIES AND DON’T THINK WE’RE YELLOW!”

“THIS AUXILIARY IS ON STRIKE”

“Yes I get that,Pearl!” said Rith, breaking into a run.

Pearl, the diminutive Auxiliary president, was out in front leading the parade.

“Did you call me, Rith?” she inquired demurely, having left the line and coming up quietly next to Rith.  Pearl was just shy of five feet, and she could almost fit under Rith’s left elbow.

“What on earth are you up to?”

“Can’t you see? We are on strike!”

“Volunteers don’t strike,” said Rith through clenched teeth.

“Pearl! Get back here; we need you to lead us!” yelled a gray haired volunteer who was doubled up with laughter. She had not had this much fun, not in her full seventy years.

Pearl skipped back to the front of the line and took her position as the leader of the pack. She picked up her megaphone and yelled: “Don’t you ever dare take us for granted again!” She was proudly leading them, all four foot eleven of her, their new, feisty  president, firm and resolute! Rith penetrated the inner line and pulled out Jay, the vice president; she pulled him out by his last four gray hairs. Usually she could depend on this intelligent man for stability and sane solutions.

“Jay, Jay what on earth are you doing?”

“We’re striking,” he said mildly looking up at her.

“That I can see! What situation precipitated it?”

“You know how it has been. It began to get bad after the hospital was bought out.”

“Yes, I do know all about that, but Jay, there must have been something, one big thing that upset you’ all?”

“There was no Volunteer Appreciation.”

“No Volunteer Dinner?”  Rith was astounded. She had left it all organized before her trip.

“He canceled it. “

“Who canceled it?”

“The new CEO and he also canceled our free cafeteria lunches.

Rats! This was trouble; big trouble! This CEO was typical of a new class of manager coming in dedicated to cutting costs, looking good to the share-holders and making a tidy profit, rather than dedicated to good organization and to good healing.

“Jay, you know that volunteers don’t strike.”

“Yes that is what I told Pearl,” said the placid, little man.

“And what did she say?”

He blinked his eyes, “She said: “Don’t be such a wimp, Jay, do you want him to walk all over us?”

“She said what?”

“What could I do?” He looked up at Rith, eyes wide.

“For heaven sakes Jay, there are going to be consequences.”

“Really?”  Rith hoped she was not too late to calm the waters.

She walked off to find the new CEO, who was, as she well knew, the real culprit here; this new CEO brought in to save the hospital money. With volunteers all you had to work with, was their willingness? Did he not understand this?

She knew that her volunteers loved their annual event; they had been planning a dress-up party with a fashion show! They had even chosen their outfits and they were going to do the modeling themselves. This type of event was right down Pearl’s alley and she had drummed up much excitement in her followers. She had even arranged that the clothing the volunteer models were going to show would be donated by a few local clothing stores.  These ladies were all on a fixed income so this meant a lot to them.   Hot skies above, after all the volunteers had done for the hospital, why deny them this little night of pleasure?  Did this new CEO have any idea how much her volunteers saved the hospital?  They worked the front desk, they manned the phones, they handled the backroom paperwork, and they even conducted valet parking!  It was going to take some damage control, and she hoped that she was not too late to save the day.

Back in front of the hospital entrance, she found the supercilious man confronting Pearl. His fat shoulders and head were thrust back which showed his pot-belly to disadvantage. He and Pearl were in loud dispute, no he was the one shouting and she was listening, ominously quiet. The man stood, smugly satisfied that he had stopped the procession; he was into stopping.  He stood encased in self-importance, so typical of the impeccably coiffed new generation of managers, turned out by colleges far removed from the demands of real life and real people.

Little Pearl was standing her ground in front of him, intense, courteous to a fault, but Rith knew she had not stopped being trouble.  She could see it in the cleft in the little raised chin. Rith began to run again.

“Pearl! Pearl! Please stop this!”

Power wheel chairs began to close in on the CEO from every direction.

Volunteer in wheelchair going fast

The CEO, backed off and spun round. Then he saw Rith and exploded.

“You are fired!”  he spat out.

Rith blanched. She knew he was not going to change his mind; could not change his mind.

“And you, er you, you,” pointing at Pearl with his whole body shaking, “you, you little impudent snippet , you, you, right now, you get right off my campus! “

The man, he was the Man turned and stomped off.

The volunteers went into shock. This was something they hadn’t predicted and had not wanted. They had all loved Rith, each and every one of them.  They began to disperse slowly, beginning to realize what they had done.. Rith watched them go, watched them all leaving her. They had been everything to her; they had been her life, for nearly a decade.

She turned around slowly, not quite sure where she was going to go, or what she would do.

~~~~****~~~~

Politics IOU will be up on Kindle at the beginning of February. Meanwhile you can read the story for free at www.ellabevan.com

The Election

Excerpt from “Politics IOU” 

Rith got most of her brilliant ideas in the early hours of the morning when she was lying in bed and this bright idea was her best in this election! As soon as it was light she called Ginger who was already up (just as she had expected).  After she had explained the idea, Ginger began laughing, in fact she laughed long and hard. Rith liked Ginger’s laugh.  It was so whole hearted.

abstract representation of the connectedness of volunteers

Volunteers Together 

Rith called Pearl and Jay at the Senior center. Listening to Rith explain the project,Pearl began jumping up and down in excitement. She asked Rith to hold on while she talked with Jay and Marjorie. Yes of course they would do it, they were all gung-ho, boy were they gung-ho!

The following day when Spider and Jamboree came down the mountain they quickly realized that something strange was afoot, for there was a big bus parked across the entrance. There was a hustle and a bustle and an excited babble as the volunteers scurried back and forth. A loading crew was lifting suitcases and hats and canes, senior scooters and electric wheel chairs into the bus.

“Do they think they are going somewhere?” asked Jamboree.

“Don’t worry, sweet Jamboree, Rith is paying,” sang out Pearl, seeing Spider’s face.. She was coming around the corner with a little dog under each arm. “Here you take them, “she said thrusting the dogs at Jamboree “They like you.”

“I can’t take them,” wailed Jamboree.

“You have to – I can’t take them where I am going?”

“And just where is that?” asked Spider.

“We are going to the Colony!”

Once she had got the volunteers in the big seventeen, bed-roomed campaign center, Rith talked Spider into coming out to lead the hospital volunteers. Before he came they were having the time of their lives but not all that effective. It was Spider who turned them into a hot-shot team.

He quickly discovered that the voters in the swing states had been bombarded with election messages and that most were blocking their calls.  This changed somewhat when the word began to get around that some cute little seniors were calling out.

If a volunteer failed to reach a voter this was the message Spider would have them leave: “Blessed are the children, for they shall inherit the national debt! Now how do you, you personally, Mrs. Pennicker, feel about your grandchildren?  You can’t do anything about it? Of course you can. You can call our friendly Senior Volunteers!” A number would be left for the Volunteer Call Center. Voters were charmed by the novel message and the phone began to ring.

Volunteer Calling

As always Spider was into creating games:

  • If a senior could stay on the phone talking an half an hour, he would reward the volunteer with a chocolate ice cream cone!
  • The volunteer who had reached the most people at the end of the day would be rewarded with a special volunteer pin.
  • The volunteer with the most pledges in the day would get to choose from a selection of kiddy-gifts on a table, and have Annalin (who was helping) send it out to a grandchild.

Jay just loved chocolate ice cream and he was their best “stay on the line” caller.

“Why am I calling you? “he would say, “I am calling because I have five grandchildren and they mean a lot to me. Do you have grand-kids? Seven, now ain’t that something?” He would then share family anecdotes and precious kid moments. He was so interested that he bonded with the voter. His four hairs would flop into his face as he warmed to his subject and as he moved into the home stretch he would ask, “Now Mrs. Bumble what do you think is the worse thing, I mean the very worst thing that we are leaving our grand-kids?” The voter would answer up.  “That’s right, that’s right, you are quite right, it is the national debt!”

The voter would lament on the bad, bad politics, and say that nothing could be done about it.

“Did you know that there is one candidate can fix the  and he also has the skill and knowledge to effectively reduce it?” Jay would ask. He would conclude by asking, “Can I have your pledge for Norman McCarthy?”

Another volunteer success!

Occasionally Pearl would beat him with the number of pledges, but not often.  On the other hand she would always win the prize for reaching the most people in a day. She was tireless, coming in early and leaving late. Most of teh other volunteers worked short shifts.

“I have called you three times, sweet Maryanne and you have not returned my call. I am really, really worried about your grandkids!”

“Thank you for calling back, Maryanne.”

“How old am I?  Oh I forget, I am not trying to be funny. Does this happen to you sometimes? The answer is in here somewhere, I just have to find it.”

Spider would crack up. He knew his sweet mother-in-law knew her exact age to the minute, but she had obviously reached a dodderer and had wanted to bond.”

“Why do I do this calling out? “

Comment from the voter.

“Yes it is very important to me, very important. I don’t like the state of the world.”

Long comment from the voter.

Sorry to interrupt you, “I have it now; yes I have remembered. Yeah,  I am all of 76 years old.”

Admiration from the voter.

“ Aren’t you also worried about your grand-kids?”

Answer from the voter.

“You are quite right, it’s out of control. You think nothing can be done about the national debt? Now there you are wrong.”  Plug for Norman McCarthy (following Spider’s script) and another voter was taking the pledge.

It was Rith’s biggest and most brilliant marketing move.

Quote for the Day

Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation – Lois Wyse 

Why do we write this blog?

This blog is dedicated to helping you to get your life together and to bring your home and your family a better quality of life.

We want you to be able to re-create your comfort zone. 

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Then, too, you can learn to become a Creative Homemaker on a very gentle  gradient.

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Creative Home Makers are blessed with unique qualities; they are compassionate, but only sometimes competent and organized. They may not be great cooks, but they know how to get along with the in-laws. Unlike Lady Gaga the Creative Homemaker may or may not be a knock-out but like Lady Gaga they also don’t mind cleaning toilets!

The creative homemaker is good at forgiving and most of all she knows how to forgive herself.

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Quote for the Week

When women are depressed, they either eat or go shopping.
Men invade another country. It’s a whole different way of thinking.

— Elaine Boosler