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Ted Kennedy - May he rest in peace

Goodwill Hunting at the Goodwill

By Joy A. Kennelly

Wrapping up the end of my community service finally which feels good. The first place I volunteered didn't offer very many hours a day and because everyone was so efficient we finished early all the time. I was sick, had my bike accident, relatives visiting, two funerals to mourn and job hunting which didn't help get my hours in either.

However, just started at Goodwill and am so happy only a few more hours to go. Time flies when you're having fun is true. This has truly been an interesting experience to observe human nature and work with people I would normally not associate with which is always good - gotta expand your comfort zone or get stagnant I say.

My first gig included working with someone who had gone to prison for shooting at his girlfriend and her lover seven times earlier in his life and was working off some traffic issue (I think a DUI since he had so many hours). Nice enough guy, but not someone I normally would ever meet or work with which was a little uncomfortable. Nothing personal, just stating my feelings.

The others were there for DUI's, and other minor traffic stuff just like me. What was fascinating at that place is the sense of entitlement one of the women had about stealing food from the charity. Hello, what part of this is community service, not they serve you, don't you get?

She was so ignorant she ended up getting another traffic penalty right when she was supposed to be finished and now has even more time to work off. Guess she didn't learn her lesson, right? LOL I know I have because once is enough.

The irony of this is that whenever I'm about to make a huge career leap I always have something like this happen which causes me to take time out of my life, slow down and evaluate what I want out of life. Fortunately, it doesn't happen too often because once I learn a lesson it's learned. Then I move forward more focused on my future plans.

What has been really enjoyable about my new gig is the people I'm working with at the Goodwill Store actually appreciate my work ethic and are constantly complimenting my efforts which is such a contrast to the last place. These co-workers kept asking me where I'd worked before because I guess not all volunteers work the way I do.

Not to brag, but just stating a fact because I was so demoralized after the last gig where it seemed like if you were a slacker, played up to the morbidly obese supervisor, stole food in front of everyone, and basically did what you wanted, you were rewarded. There were some really good workers too, don't get me wrong, but there were a lot who took advantage of the situation too.

I don't work well in that type environment. Tell me what my parameters are, what you want me to do, how you want it done, be respectful and honest and we're all good. That's what impressed me about the Goodwill right away.

They actually held an orientation to explain what was expected, how they liked things to be done, and a code of conduct was provided which I signed to indicate I would abide by their rules.

Real professional. I have really enjoyed this new experience immensely. Helps to work with fun people and meet quirky characters too to help the time fly. My first day there, a homeless woman named Carol arrived around 11am and ended up staying until I left at 6pm. We let her hang out because we're really there to help people like her after all.

She had the absolute worst smell and would walk around the store wearing a jacket she had selected off the racks all the while trying on hats, touching everything, and pulling out pieces of clothing which she would display on the racks above the rest of the clothing the entire time.

Since my job was to put all the clothes away it became a little frustrating to deal with and I asked her politely to put things away once she was done not sure if she'd understand enough to comply, or what since I've not had any previous experience with homeless people and find them to be crazy.

That's my judgmental/non-Christ-like side raising it's ugly head, hate to admit it. I realized once I began communicating with her God had brought her into my life to teach me patience and compassion. The first time she explained to me that she was displaying the clothes to make up her mind on which item she would select to purchase later.

Isn't that cute? Especially since we all knew it would never happen.

She also explained she used to live with a man who ran a Goodwill and loved the Goodwill. I treated her like a normal person which I could see made her feel good. It was sad to watch her try to communicate with other customers because it was obvious they were just tolerating her and she was making no sense to them whatsoever.

She kept pulling out clothes throughout the day and again, I politely asked her to put them back when she was done. This time she explained she was a seamstress and was admiring the way they were sewn. She was extremely polite and well-mannered which made me wonder what her life had been like prior to becoming homeless.

She smelled exactly the way the back of the cheap African taxis had smelled when we had traveled throughout Kenya alongside all the native Africans - unshowered, no deodorant, packed like sardines, and so bad smelling you could barely breath. I had completely forgotten about that part of our African experience, but her scent created a flashback to my seventh grade year which was pungent and haunting.

Carol kept us entertained throughout the day, but she wasn't the only crazy to pop in that day. Another woman, who looked completely normal mind you, came to the checkout counter and began talking crazy talk about the Tweety Bird Conspiracy. I've never heard of that. Have you? LOL

When the cashier attempted to give her back ten dollars change she refused to accept it saying it was contaminated or some such nonsense. Thank you for your donation crazy lady. Oh dear, being judgmental again, aren't I?:)

Another guy seemingly had changed the price tags on an item and then threatened to sue when the manager checked to make sure the right price was given. The overweight, sweaty man became very belligerent and demanding over something that cost only $2.99!

Interesting study of human nature again is all I have to say. If you're stuck on characters for your script, or novel, go volunteer at your local Goodwill. I assure you your writer's block will be broken because of who you will observe shopping. Not everyone is out-there, but there are enough that are which makes it fun.

My 21 year gay co-worker is a real trip. I've had a lot of fun goofying around with her (as my good friend Ara likes to say. Love you Ara, but you crack me up sometimes girl!)

I told her I'd write about our experience so it's cool. When I told her about signing up for some dating site she said she didn't believe in commitment, was against relationships and everything they stood for. Now do you see why sometimes people wonder why gay marriage is such a big deal? I know, she doesn't represent everyone in that community, but still, I think a lot of gay people feel that way if they were to ever admit it out loud.

Not to get political because I'm not in the mood to argue, just stating an observation.

We kept holding up cute skirts telling her they'd look good on her and she played along like a good sport joking right back even though she's really jonsing for a pair of black Levi's 503's she saw. I made the mistake of telling her I thought a customer was hot and she embarrassed me to death by speaking loudly about my comment saying I should grow some and tell him!

Even though people have a hard time believing it, I can be very shy, especially around men I'm attracted to. I don't think I've blushed that red in a LONG time! It was really funny. My other co-worker Liz, when I told her what had happened, shared she'd gotten up her courage to talk to a guy she liked when he shopped at the store and she ended up dating him for three years.

Just goes to show you...

I was surprised there were so many attractive men shopping there, but it's a total hipster place to shop after all. Apparently vinyl records are what some of the guys look for, others just like the inexpensive clothes.

Not used to being there since I normally never shop for second hand anything. The last time I was at this particular store was with a friend who loves thrifting, almost to an obsession.

She shall remain nameless, but those of you who know me, know who I might be referring to I'm sure. LOL God love her, but there are people who throw garage sales and donate clothes to charities and those who shop them.

I'm of the latter camp.

However, after sorting clothes and items for hours on end I could see why people enjoy it. Target and other companies donate here regularly which means some items are new and very inexpensive. Speaking of which, this next week-end August 28th and 29th all the clothing is only $2.00 at all Goodwill stores.

All sales final. No return or exchange on sale items. Not valid with any other offers. No other discounts apply. Apparel currently priced at less than $2 remains at the lower price.

Just thought I'd give them a little plug because they're such a worthy charity and are trying to achieve a sales goal of one million dollars this month. Help a homeless person out and shop!

Gotta run. More later. Just getting approvals. Thanks!


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