2.22.2006

Schedule: Last Resort of the Uncommitted

Before the last hymn finished playing, I turned to the student next to me to start my sales pitch. "You know, we've got this awesome service project coming up next week. We're going to be playing video games with the homeless, and I know you're the world champion of "Super-X Carnage Moto-Trail III" so I wanted to ask if you could come along."
"Um, I don't know. When is it again?"
"It's next Sunday afternoon. The Super Bowl was weeks ago, I went to your last hockey game of the season, and you have Monday off of school, so you have a whole extra day to get your homework done." I have him cornered. All his regular weekend bases are covered. This is one service event he cannot get himself out of.
"Well, normally I'd love to come along, but Sunday afternoons are supposed to be family time." This is a low blow.
"We'd love to have your whole family come along!" Maybe it's not what he just told me. But I might still get away with it.
"I'd have to check with my mom." She is sitting right next to him. Not a problem. I switch spots.
"Mrs. Smith, the youth group is going down to the homeless shelter for a service project next Sunday afternoon. I'm really glad Billy is a part of our youth group and I think he'd love to go along. He mentioned that Sunday afternoon is your family time, so I said you could all come along."
"This is on Sunday?"
"Next Sunday, yes."
"Well, I'd have to check our schedule. I think we're having a dinner for my great-aunt's anniversary that night, so we'd be really short on time in the afternoon."
I pull out my genealogy program on my PDA, and check Billy's mom's family tree. It's February, and her great-aunt's birthday is in July. I'm not buying this one.
"Our group is really going to grow together on this project, and since Billy is going on the mission trip this summer to to beach ministry in Cancun, I'd love for him to experience some local service beforehand."
"It does sound like a lot of fun, but the anniversary party is really important to our family."
Her great-aunt isn't married either.
"The anniversary is actually for the great-aunt's cat. She's had him for a thousand years and he's being put to sleep on Monday, so we're all getting together for a party to celebrate his life the night before. Maybe Billy and his father could go along; they're not really related to my aunt."
I climb over Billy's mom and shake hands with his dad. A good handshake has a strong grip, a full up-to-the-wrist contact and a piercing look into the eyes. I really show off my skills in this one. If he respects my handshake, he will respect my project.
"Your wife suggested that you might be able to bring Billy and come to the homeless shelter for our service project next Sunday. You're a businessman, I'm sure we could use your expertise to help the residents create graduate school applications. It's next Sunday afternoon, and we're meeting here at the church..."
"I heard about that project, but I just don't think it sounds right for our family. Now when I was in the youth group here at this congregation..."
"You sat down with the other kids to discuss the sermon after the service, yes. Bringing that one back is on my list. This is just a one-day project- we're going out to practice the Gospel that Jesus taught us about seeing the poor and serving them. I'm sure you know how important that is."
"I have a very important business meeting the next day, and I was counting on having Sunday afternoon to look over my notes. Let me check my calendar and I'll give you a call."
"You must have your calendar with you. I know you wouldn't want to travel without it."
"It's, uh, in my car."
"Great! Let's go check it."
"Well, the car is in the far parking lot. You wouldn't want to walk all that way out while the kids are all still here."
"I have plenty of volunteers to greet our students this morning. I'd be glad to walk with you and talk some more about the project."
We walk out to his car. The calendar is suddenly not there.
"I think I may have left it in Switzerland this last week while I was there-- you know, in Switzerland. Where my office is."
His office is not in Switzerland. "This service project will be a great chance for you to bond with the students. They really need good role models like you."
"Yeah, about that. Last week I thought seriously about knocking down a little old lady and stealing her purse. I'm sure I'm not the role model you need."
"Temptation to sin is not sin by itself, sir. Congratulations on resisting! What a testimony."
"Hey, didn't Jesus say the poor will always be with us?"
"Yes, and that's why we always have to be doing something about them."
"Billy and I would love to help, but I know we have something to do that day. Why don't you call us for the next one?"
"Okay. What's the best number for me to call?"
He writes one down and hands it to me on a Post-It note.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but this number looks like it's from out of state. And it has too many digits in it. No phone number has sixteen."
He sped off. While I was reading the number he'd gotten into his car and revved up. Waving his calendar, he screeched across the parking lot and away.

2 comments:

erika said...

this made me laugh....a lot. don't worry, it was a sympathetic laugh. ;-)

I can't wait to see you!

Esther said...

That's funny. I hope you made most of it up and it didn't really happen to you.