Saturday, January 12, 2013

My socially awkward life.

You might be surprised when I write that people tend to think I'm....socially awkward. Yes, I know. It is hard to believe. I'm a lot better than I used to be. I'll talk to you freely but don't expect me to talk to you out of the blue. At least for the first three or four months of my knowing you. People have to engage me...and then I usually don't shut up. And it's not because I don't want to talk to you; it's more because I can't believe anyone would want me to talk to them. I just assume I'm invisible regardless of the stories I have to tell.

Last fall I decided to volunteer at my son's school. They were having a book fair and needed volunteers to ring up books, pencils, posters, and the like. I used to work at a bookstore in my early twenties so I knew my way around books. I have a kid, so that means I know my way around kids, right? Don't kids possess a level of social awkwardness? Books + socially awkward kids + socially awkward me = book fair!

I have to admit that I'm not a kid person. Yes, I have a kid. Yes, I love my kid. But I tend to view kids as immature (read: socially awkward) little adults. I tend to talk to my son like I would, say, anyone else I need to boss around. I don't dumb down words, I don't pretend he doesn't have a penis but a pee-pee (or whatever parents are calling it these days; I really don't know), and I expect him to act like a little man with a fabulous sense of humor.

Some may think: Ah, sad that he has to spend a lot of time with her. But my kid has a pretty good vocabulary, can solve a math problem like a bee pollinates flowers (two things -- he didn't get the math from me, and I don't know what the bee business is about; I just couldn't think of anything better), can laugh so much it becomes infectious, and is a fantastic artist. He's not too bad on the eyes either (ask any young lady at his school). I must be doing something correct, no?

Oh, yeah, he does have a dad and we both live with him so I'm sure his dad has something to do with it but that's neither here nor there because this is my blog!

I was nervous the night before I volunteered. What if I was forced to do math and clammed up? What if it was so busy I cracked and ran straight out of the library where the book fair was held with the coordinator yelling at my quickly diminishing figure, "Hey, come back here, socially awkward lady with one kid!" What if technology has changed so much that I couldn't figure out the register (and then had to do math with 5th graders correcting me)? What if what if what if...

But, about 99% of the time, when I say I'm going to do something, I'm doing it. No matter how I feel about it the day I'm supposed to do whatever (like all those 7 a.m. dental appointments? Such a fabulous idea when making them, but such a crap-ass idea the night before the actual appointment). The 1% is me saying I'll do it with no intention of doing it -- usually something I feel very strongly about not doing but it's easier to agree at the time -- and them's the breaks for whoever thought I was going to do whatever I said I was going to do.

At the appointed time, I showed up for my shift (which, I might add, went from two hours to four hours overnight because no other parents volunteered for the mid-day shift the day I was volunteering, and so I said I would stay for two more hours but not a minute more because I DO HAVE A JOB, people!). I was given the basics about the register (no big deal), I looked at the schedule of classes who were going to drop by for 20 minutes at a time so the kids who had money could by things, and then began straightening book displays. The librarian was working with me, and since she was not socially awkward and was more leaning on the side of, "I'll talk to just about anyone, anytime, about anything," we got along famously. I talked when talked to. She talked a lot.

About 15 minutes into my shift, a hoard of kids came in. In a nutshell these were the highlights:
  • Selling the last Lego encyclopedia to some kid who was absolutely tickled to be buying it (it was about Ninjago or Star Wars - perfect little boy fodder) but then being told by the librarian that that was the last copy and I wasn't supposed to sell it to him (she missed this part in the introduction to what I should and should not be doing). She had to go hunt him down, take the book back from him, and write it down in the "to order" log. Yes, I felt like an asshole. I found out closer to the end of my shift that the kid went back to class completely distraught about the whole thing. So much so that his teacher asked him what was wrong.

  • Ringing up books for a little girl who then handed me her bag of money (all the kids were very trusting of me, an adult, as they should be, and it was touching and disheartening at the same time since so many adults can be big butt chunks in this world), only for me to count it and have to break it to her that she didn't have enough. She stared at me with her doe eyes. I repeated it. She looked at me like I was the adult here, make it happened. I had to hand her her money back and tell her should couldn't buy it. She turned away while still eyeballing me like the whole transaction made no sense to her and I was the biggest letdown in the history of adult-child trust.

  • Having my biggest fear happen: Being challenged to do math by a 5th grader. For some reason, the librarian told the class to grab wishlists and to write down everything they wanted along with the price. She failed to mention that just because they were doing that didn't mean they were actually getting them and the point of doing it was to provide the list to their parents. So all the kids went berserk, writing down titles and prices, and then promptly walked up to me and told me to add everything up for them so they knew the total. I told the first kid who asked me, "Oh, no. I can't do that!" and he looked at me like, are you kidding me? You can't add this up? (Apparently no one caught word of my inability to do math before allowing me to run a register.) So I rounded up the prices, added, and gave him a total (that was probably not even close to the actual total). Since I did that for him, other kids demanded the same, so I just started guesstimating: Oh, you've EASILY got 100 bucks here; I'd said 45 dollars; Just write down 10 and call it a day. At one point, the first kid said, "the total is 234.94," to me. The whole time I was guesstimating, he was adding all his book prices up. And I'm pretty sure he was correct. Yes, I'm a math loser.

  • Seeing my son as he was going to the secret library. I said hi to him and he was confused yet super happy. But then when he realized he wasn't going to work at the book fair with me, he was sad and disappointed. I fielded a lot of questions that night. Most of them accusatory.
And the topper of them all? When I left, kids were being led outside for recess, and one girl whom I rang up before noticed me, waved shyly, and said hi to me. Like I was someone.

Socially awkward my butt. I got this down, and then I did a side-heel kick before continuing to walk down the hall.

(Okay, what really happened? I moved to the side of the hall because I am socially awkward and didn't want to deal with trying to walk down the hall while streams of kids were trying to get outside and weren't paying one bit of attention to me other than that one girl).


Neece said...

So, she couldn't just write down the book title and order it? She had to keep it as a display piece? UGH. Also, We don't do sales during the school day. They only window shop and write the list of books they want and then go home to bug there parent's for the cash. Next year, you can coordinate it!

Neece said...

their parents. UGH again.

Nut Nut said...

No thanks. I can't coordinate my own life let alone a book sale.

I thought the same thing about the book. It broke my heart.