Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who works from Elan.Works, a designer and editor at GenderAvenger, and a speaker who has spoken across North America. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.

Volunteering Voluntarily And A Brass Band

I was out until very, very late on Friday night, or at least the amount of beer I drank made it seem very, very late. My friend Jay, of New World Disorder, was extra nice as usual and walked me home. Too many people in this area have been held at knife point, had their heads mashed in with rebar, or have been attacked by a herd of five teenage girls who steal your coat in the middle of a bloody cold spring. Where I live looks lovely in the day, though.

The result of my late Friday night was that I lay down on my couch when I got home instead of the bed and woke up around ten minutes to nine with a raging headache and an unslakeable thirst. It also meant that I had forgotten to set my alarm and that I was already twenty minutes late for an event at which I was supposed to be volunteering at 8:30 am. Because it makes me feel better, I am going to blame Jay for this. He did coerce me into that last beer, right?

I jumped off the couch, took some ibuprofen, and threw myself into the shower, hoping that my being late was not seriously pissing anyone off. The event was a breakfast served as a thank-you to volunteers of this society’s annual door-to-door fundraising campaign, and the guy who is in charge of the volunteers called me up a day-and-a-half before the event in a panic, because he didn’t have enough people to serve coffee and wipe tables and whatnot. I agreed, because I haven’t done any work for them in a while.

Luckily the event was happening only three blocks from my apartment, so I ran over there in record time, grabbed a coffee pot, and started pouring. I don’t think that half the volunteers eating breakfast there realized that the people serving them were also volunteers, because I got a few weird looks about my serving style. I’ve worked in coffee shops but never at a table service establishment, so I’m sure I came off as a little strange. I was comforted, though, by the fact that my co-volunteers at this breakfast were stranger than me.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was off about them. It’s not like anything was actually wrong with them, but they just didn’t seem to fit with the picture of volunteers working at an event to fight some nasty disease. One of the women I was working with kept saying things like “a few hours down and a shitload more to go”, and the one guy working made comments like “I wouldn’t have to be here if it weren’t for you”, and then he would poke another woman, presumably his wife, in the ribs. At one point, the first woman turned to me during a slower moment and asked me why I was there. Why? Because I volunteer sometimes for this organization, that’s why. The answer seemed obvious to me. She got kind of quiet and walked over to one of the others.

I had just been subtly shunned. And then it dawned on me. They weren’t different. I was different. I was the only one who was there voluntarily. They were all working off fines. Rather than go to jail, they were fulfilling community service hours, and that’s why they seemed strange to me. They were acting like they had to be there because they really had to be there. I’m not sure what everyone was there for, but two of the “volunteers” were there because of drunk driving charges. No hardened criminals or anything, but I never expected to be shunned while volunteering because I was the only one without criminal charges who happened to be there voluntarily.


Following the breakfast that I volunteered at, I went for a walk around downtown, because it was a beautiful day. As has happened to me a million times, “Roll Out the Barrel” got stuck in my head. That one is the worst, because it tumbles around in a round with no beginning or end. After a couple of minutes, I realized that the song was getting louder. Normally songs that get stuck in my head stay at a regular volume level, so I started looking around for external causes. There was actually a freaking ten-piece brass band playing a long and meandering version of “Roll Out the Barrel” as the main piece in a medley. This band sat and played in the middle of an open area between shops as though they were supposed to be there, but I was the only one around. I stood there awkwardly for a moment, silently cursing there atrocious music choice and shifting my feet. I didn’t know what to do as the sole audience member. I decided that it was better that I leave than stand around doing that creepy shifty-eyes thing I was getting caught up in. I hope they didn’t spend the whole morning alone like that playing a seemingly endless rendition of “Roll Out the Barrel”. I often do the equivalent, and it’s no good.


Read Metamorphosism.

Dogs can sniff out bladder cancer from urine. (I think the picture of the dog resting his head in a dish of it is a bit much, though).

The possible origins of “gimmick”.

I love it when people do what you only dream of doing.

Carter says that conditions for a fair election in Florida still do not exist.

Students protest in favour of greater freedom at a university in Tehran.

Nova Scotia backs same-sex marriage.

Sick At Home Again And Some Bad Poetry Balanced Out By A Snippet Of Good Poetry

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