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It’s volunteer appreciation week and there are all sorts of festivities going on. The volunteers are so gracious about being thanked; it’s a love fest!

There’s a volunteer, Ben whom I just love. He’s an old union steward, grouchy, snarly and full of Ben-isms. Whenever he sees me coming, he screws up his face and asks, “Oh! what brings you down from your lofty office?”

When I answer in my most sweetest voice, “to see you Ben, of course,” he follows up with “probably on your way to another pointless meeting.”

I love sparring with Ben. He comes to do the job, take jabs at me, and then goes home. He’s prompt, hard working and funny as all get out.

Yesterday he made a comment about how easy my job was. “Really?” I said, my inner hackles up. “what makes you think it’s easy?”

“C’mon,” he sneered. “you tell people where to be and then you go have coffee.”

Hmmm, that does sound a bit like my job.

I said, “Ben, how many different managerial styles are there when it comes to volunteers?” I know how much he detests management and mumbo jumbo about styles.

“One. show up!”

“Ok,” I said, ready to play the game. ” how about Jerri? Do I use the same style with Jerri that I use with you?” Jerri is an elderly lady that volunteers at the same time Ben does.

“Well yeah!”

“She wouldn’t come back if I talked to her the way I talk to you.”

He shifted. “Ok, well, that’s just her.”

“Well, what works for her might not work for you, or the next volunteer. We don’t have pay hanging over their heads. We have to actually be engaged with volunteers.”

Ben looked at me hard. I had stopped playing the game in his mind. “I gotta go, my times up.” He went for his jacket. “You go back to your meetings now, don’t let me stop you.”

“I will. And Ben? Happy Volunteer Appreciation Week.”

“Load of crap.” he said as he left.

I love you Ben.