19 October, 2016

Signs and rubbish

Some of the signs we put up. Telling you you must put your PTA number
on the goods you donate (two on the left) and listing the things the money
made from Thrift Shop has been used for in the past (two on the right).

I'm feeling exhausted after a full day of helping with the school's Thrift Shop (garage sale). Yesterday afternoon/evening we set up the bare bones of the shop, meaning all the tables, clothes racks, and signs. It's the last of those that is my main job. Signs and rubbish. These two things are the main responsibility of me and another mum.

This is what the gym looked like yesterday after we'd finished setting up
the tables etc. Today we started filling those tables and racks. When I left
 after 6 tonight there wasn't much white space left.

We have hundreds of signs. No kidding! We have signs to tell you where you can put your stuff and where you can't, when you can put your stuff there and when you can't. We have signs to tell you where you can put other people's stuff and where you can't. There are signs about what sort of stuff you can put there and what you can't. We have signs for volunteers and visitors, members and non-member. Signs for cars and carts, rubbish and non-rubbish. Signs for calculating and sorting, pricing and tossing. Signs about entering and exiting, signs about staying and going. Signs for sections and subsections and sub-sub-sections. Well, maybe the last one is an exaggeration.

Yesterday evening we put up a lot of signs, maybe more than half of them. Today I've periodically heard my name together with the word "sign" mentioned. I tried to run away when that happened but they usually found me and wanted me to find another sign in the black hole that contains our signs. 

The problem with Thrift Shop is that there are lots of people helping. That's a blessing too: otherwise this would not be possible. But the problem with lots of people helping is that things don't always go as planned, so there can be inefficiency. Someone does something wrong that needs fixing up by someone else later. Someone doesn't know there is a sign for something, so makes one, and we therefore end up with multiple signs. Someone tells someone else to do something and then someone else tells someone else to do it differently. Yes, it happens. Just yesterday I had about four or five people tell me to do the same thing, something I'd already done.

The problem with signs is that they're out there for anyone to work with, so they often get put in places that are hard for someone else to find, even in the files that are supposed to be organised, but are hard to keep as such because so many people can access them.

These are, however, the prices we pay for working with many volunteers and at a speed that inevitably produces exhaustion and inaccuracies.

Then there's rubbish. Mostly consisting of plastic bags and damaged or dirty clothes. These seemed to multiply faster than rabbits. Both of us were picking and sorting up bags of rubbish from around the gym at regular intervals throughout the day.
At one of the two entrances. There are two ways to give goods to
Thrift Shop: as a donation (all the money goes to CAJ but the
volunteers on Wednesday have to price all the items
ourselves) or as a "tagged item" which means the donators have
to price everything themselves and the volunteers on Wednesday
and Thursday have only to sort and put everything out on the floor
in the appropriate places. But the "donors" get a percentage of
the sale price back if their goods sell before Saturday.
The white signs are about what you cannot sell at Thrift Shop.

On top of that I helped supervise students from PE and home ec classes who came to help sort, price, fold, hang, arrange, carry, wheel, and distribute goods to their correct place in the gym. You see this is a highly organised process and where most things go is well documented with signs!

In th midst of all this I managed to have fun talking to people. Three of us had a spirited discussion about the fact that two of us think we're ENFP (Myers-Briggs), but there are some significant differences in our personalities. I worked and chatted with another friend who also brought me coffee when she heard that I'd been awake for more than an hour during the night (my mind didn't shut down so well last night, I had signs running through my thoughts). I had lots of little fun exchanges as I worked alongside people.

But now I've run out of words and bed beckons. Because there will be more signs tomorrow. And more rubbish too.

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