Every organization from The White House to your neighborhood garage sale relies on volunteers for free labor, but sometimes you get what you pay for. Check out a few ways to avoid being “that” volunteer.
Text by Bill Lindsey | May 11, 2018 | Lifestyle

Diva-Free Zone
All organizations need a leader or two, but when “diva-inclined” volunteers show up ready to take charge, the fact that they have no idea what needs to be done rarely gives them pause. Rather than spend time — maybe measured in years — learning how the organization runs and what needs to be done to make it a success, they arrive ready to wield a clipboard and a bullhorn. They will enthusiastically offer to tell everyone else what to do, preferably from the seat of a golf cart. If it rains or gets hot out, you can find the Diva Volunteer fanning themselves in the air-conditioned tent, on their butt, near the coolers of food and drinks, texting friends to complain about the selection of goodies available.

The Royal Pain
These types of volunteers show up looking like they are headed to the casino at Monte Carlo instead of a Pet Rescue event at Bayside. Hair freshly sculpted, clomping through the mud in sky-high Jimmy Choos, makeup apparently applied by the guys at Maaco Autobody, in head-to-toe Dolce & Gabana, accessorized with a rhinestone-studded bluetooth earpiece welded in place so they can give a live update of the event to some poor soul on the other end. Hand them a t-shirt and you’ll get a look as if you had implied their parents were first cousins. Offer them a slice of pizza and a cold bottled water at lunch and you’ll wonder if you accidentally tossed them a hunk of iguana tail on a stick. Eventually they will condescendingly ask where “the facilities“ are located, at which time you can smile and point to the line of fragrant Ambassador Flush Jiffy Johns.

Now You See Them…Oh No You Don’t!
These volunteers will RSVP for every meeting and event, but never actually show up. If there are 7 pre-event planning meetings, they will be at every one, scarfing down snacks and guzzling free drinks, while nodding enthusiastically and giving big thumbs-ups every time the organizer glances their way. At meetings they will be the most impassioned about the cause, whether the mission is as complex as saving the Wildebeasts of Zambezi or as easy breezy as a beach cleanup. But when the dust settles and the event has come to a successful conclusion after hours of incredibly hard work on the part of — almost — every volunteer, you’ll realize you never saw them on site. Calls to their cell phones will go to voicemail and texts will go unanswered. If you miss them that bad, all you have to do is send out another call for volunteers and wait for their RSVP.

Bright(ish) Ideas
We all know this one! They arrive 5 minutes early, with a pad of pre-written notes, eager to share their “great” idea. A common theme is, “When I was in the Grand Poohbahs, back in Penobscot, THIS is how we did it.” These volunteers have to upstage everyone, devising plans that involve everyone except them making a huge effort, to the point that it would be no surprise to overhear Mother Teresa muttering under her breath, “his/her momma must have dropped him/her on his/her head a lot.” These “Idea People” are famous for suggesting that Kaitlyn or Phil or Joe or anyone but themselves would be “great” for whatever silly thought they spew. However, when it comes time to put thought to action, they suddenly flutter away amidst a cloud of lame excuses. While the other volunteers are actually glad to see them go so they can actually start to get some work done, it would have been nicer had they not shown up at all.

The Celebrity
These guys and gals are in it for the free admission, free parking, free lunch and an official event t-shirt. They will show up late, make a grand entrance and then suddenly fall into the Bermuda Triangle, never to be seen again. Until it’s time for the free lunch, of course. Their Facebook page will tell the tale, with a seemingly endless string of duckface selfies taken with all the friends they snuck into the event. If you look closely, you will see “real” volunteers slaving away in the background. Those are the true unsung heroes of the wild, wild world of altruism.