You better watch out, you better not cry…oh wait, wrong historical personage. And a fictitious one at that. Oops.
First Lady Michelle Obama will be in Merced Saturday to address the first full graduating class at UC Merced’s commencement ceremony. I am truly excited for Merced. This is a Very Big Deal for podunk little us. I just hope we don’t screw it up.
Oh, you want me to be a little more positive, do you? Well, let me tell you about my Wednesday instead and perhaps you will better understand my mood.
Word spread around town that UC Merced needed volunteers to work the graduation since it expanded from an expected 1,000 or so attendees to 12,000 after the First Lady announced she would address the Class. I volunteered along with a few others from the office and we all signed up for the 2:00 orientation on Wednesday.
Except we could not find the 2:00 orientation on Wednesday and nobody in the main administrative building knew anything about it, including the woman who signed us up.
Um yeah, the woman who made us give her our email addresses and had us choose which of the three orientation times we wanted to attend. That woman.
Luckily, a nice man who just happened to be passing by heard our plight and went out of his way to help us. He found out where we needed to be and took us all the way over there, which involved a Keystone Cops version of car parking when he realized we would be ticketed if we stayed where we were. Round and round we went through various parking lots – all full – until he finally had us park in the construction lot. Here we are:
Do you see the size of the rocks in which we are parked? More on that later. By the way, that is the same general direction the First Lady will be looking when she addresses the Class, only her view will include cows grazing in a pasture you cannot see just beyond the construction barrier.
So, we three - plus two spouses who were roped into volunteering - arrive rather late to a briefing given by…the police department? The room is a sea of students, among which we are the only adults. Or at least the only full-time working adults, other than the two police officers giving the briefing.
They are talking about busses. It takes me a few minutes to realize 1) they need people for “parking lot screening” at three off-campus sites around town to make sure attendees do not bring prohibited items onto the bus and hence into the event (coolers, roller skates, laser pointers…oh, and weapons), 2) they need people to man the metal detectors on-campus, and 3) I made a big mistake when I volunteered to help out.
Then they said parking lot screeners have to be there at 5:00 AM but people manning the metal detectors can sleep a whole extra hour because they don’t have to arrive until 6:00 AM. For a ceremony that begins at 1:30 PM.
WTF? Oh, and you don’t get to choose which job you will do. They are so short handed they will put people wherever they need them and you will get an email before the big day telling you your assignment.
It was at this point we five looked at each other and said, I don’t think so. We stayed after to let the officers know to take us off the list because the job was not quite what we thought it would be but guess what? We weren’t on the list. Not one of us.
When we told him who our contact was, he said, “Well that explains it,” but then I think he realized what he said and told us she was just one of many “traffic cops” not really associated with the event but directing people to where they needed to go.
Yeah, well there’s a five car pileup on her corner, buddy.
I don’t know what I expected to be doing as a volunteer. Food service? Ushering attendees to their seats? The officer said he was only in charge of the police department volunteers – he was about forty shy of his goal of two hundred – but thought there were many other volunteer opportunities through the UC itself. When we asked where to go for that, he said to contact the same person we contacted the first time.
The one who didn’t sign us up the first time and didn’t know where the meeting was when we arrived? That one?
We opted to get the hell out of there as fast as humanly possible. Except remember those giant rocks in the construction parking area? My car got stuck on the way out. Of course. Because that is how my Wednesday was going.
Thank god the construction boys were leaving for the day. One of them teamed up with my friend Nash and pushed my little Prius to safety. Meanwhile, my friend Janice backed her Jetta way the hell up to avoid any flying rocks and she and Nash took a safer route out of the parking lot of doom.
It’s going to be 101 degrees Saturday. I plan to watch First Lady Michelle Obama’s UC Merced commencement speech on my 42” plasma HDTV while sipping a cool beverage after sleeping in until 9:00 or 10:00 AM.