Sunday, November 25, 2012

South Of Here

Thanksgiving WatcherI used to work as a theatre technician. I didn't have any special skills like carpentry or scenic painting or the ability to climb tall ladders in a single bound. I cultivated a talent for following people around handing them what they needed at high speed, on a good day even before they asked for it. Sometimes I'd be called on to figure stuff out like where to store things or how to get more of something but most of the time I just did as I was told. In the business we call that being "neck down."

"So, what's going on here? How are we hanging this light plot?"

"No idea, man, I'm neck down today."

Up to a certain pay scale you can only afford to be neck down. It's harder for some people than doing more brain-oriented jobs. You might be surprised at how many folks just can't shut off their need to figure out a better way and make everyone conform to it. I'm all for a better way but some days and in some situations it's not only uncalled for it's unwelcome. Occasionally it can even make things worse. I have watched my share of people bull forward absolutely unable to understand that they're making life harder for everyone instead of easier.

On Thursday morning I went to work for God's Love We Deliver. Instead of delivering meals like I usually do I was working at a distribution location. I knew from my delivery experience that I'd be part of the team checking volunteers in, assembling meals, and distributing them to people in cars who would deliver them to clients. Let me give away the ending and tell you that we helped to distribute, I believe, over 600 meals by 10:45am.

Now, I was new and I didn't know anyone there so I have no idea if there is an official way to set up one of these pop-up centers or if there's usually one person who organizes each location. From my brief observation it looked as though about 5 people each had a very clear idea of how everything should be set up and run but none of them had consulted with the other 4 nor did they manage to communicate any of the five full plans to the volunteers. I tried to offer my services a couple of times and occasionally was given a job, though never really an entire tutorial of how to do it. Initially I felt weird observing what others were doing and just trying to copy them. Then, as I opened a few hundred shopping bags decorated by local school children for the holiday, the phrase "neck down" jumped into my head. I'm just neck down today. All I have to do is keep busy and quiet and jump if and when I'm told to.

From there on out I had a lovely time. I did some useful things and the world didn't explode because I didn't stick my nose in to organize shit. Neck down can be good, y'all, you should try it sometime.


  1. oooh that's a hard one for me, glad you managed to enjoy it!

  2. I concur, especially with you being a Capricorn- we aren't naturally programmed to work like that. But I'm going to try and remember this story the next time (and I fear it will be sooner than I think) I'm in a similar situation.

  3. You always land on your feet. Even when you're unsure of how to proceed. I love that you do this every year.