The 9 year old’s softball league sends ominous warning letters to parents at the beginning of the season – volunteer for two 3-hour slots or lose your $150 deposit. I studiously watched for emails from the league and signed up to work at the concession stand on two consecutive saturdays. “How hard could it be?”, I thought. I could see myself leisurely doling out lemonade and cotton candy to little leaguers on sunny summer-esque afternoons. And getting my $150 promptly refunded.
Upon reflection, I realized that it would likely not all be lemonade and cotton candy. Surely, there would be hot dogs and hamburgers too? Not that there’s anything wrong with it. But, the aacharam Iyer girl in me was v. disturbed at possibly having to handle meat. Checked in with N for reassurance and got none. “Of course there will be hot dogs at ball game concession stands, what did you think?”, he said. “Why don’t you just let it go? It’s only $150”, added the Rockefeller. Which did not sit well with the true blue thrifty girl that I am. Decided that I would brave it and work my slot. And do something special for myself with the moolah that I rescue from the league.
Today was the first of those saturdays. Decided to be gung-ho about it (what were my options, anyway?). Showed up 15 minutes early with the Chanakya strategy of grabbing the cash register rather than having to handle the food. Did land the cash register job and started congratulating self on cleverness. When… oooh, first customer!! He ordered a couple of sodas and pretzels and handed me a $20. Simple, right? To my horror, found myself moving like molasses trying to find the right buttons on the cash register. Felt sudden unaccountable sympathy for grocery store staff fumbling in similar situations. Still, customer traffic was relatively light (after all, my slot was right after peak lunch time), and I started chatting with the couple that was also working the stand with me. Turns out they live in my development, less than 10 homes away from us, and have two kids – one of whom is in the same class as the 6-year old. And, they have been our neighbors for eight years now, ever since our homes were originally built! What busy isolated lives we live!!
Things went swimmingly for a couple of hours when I chatted with my new-found neighbors and discovered that we had many common interests and some common friends as well. But then, unfortunately, everyone at the games decided that they were hungry and started lining up at the stand all at once. I was also feeling quite cold by then – inexplicably, it was warmer outside in the fields than inside the concession stand building. Enough was enough! I was suddenly very tired and ready to go home. Heard the man making cheeseburgers yell “3 more minutes” and I wanted to cheer “Wooohooo, we made it”!!! Looked at the clock and saw that I had another full hour to go. Turns out the man was merely saying that we had 3 more minutes before the next burger would be ready. Ugh!! I went back to my kalla potti (cash box). The next hour passed in a blur of munchie and money swapping.
Stepped out to the field to check on the 9 year old and heard lots of cheering. One of the kids in her team had apparently scored a home run. Went closer (since I didn’t have my kannadi on) and saw that it was my own munchkin that had scored the home run! And, apparently, it was her second home run in that game! The dog day was looking up. Went back to the concession stand and felt what early immigrants arriving in Ellis Island surely must have felt on seeing the Statue of Liberty. The next shift of volunteers had arrived. Hallelujah!!!
As I relax with hot masala chai and samosas and look back on my day – stepped outside my comfort zone and did something totally new, made some new friends, scored some home runs (seri, seri, that wasn’t me – just wanted to see if you were paying attention) – hmmm… not too shabby at all! I am almost looking forward to Round 2 at the stands next week. Even better, I should just send N in my place. Why deprive him of all this fun? 😉