Heather O. continues her guest series with us.
I have a two car garage. A two car garage that hasn’t had two cars in it since my son’s 6 birthday party. He turned 7 two months ago. Thanks for asking.
Part of the problem is that my husband and I are both, at heart, kinda slobs, and having a clean garage isn’t all that high on our priority list. And part of it is the #10 cans.
In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, #10 cans are the big cans that you can buy at Costco that hold a thousand servings of green beans, or peaches, or potatoes, or, whatever. They also happen to be the size of can that The Church uses in the canneries all over the country, places you can go to can wheat, oats, and fruit drink (for good vitamin C measure).
(That stuff is nasty, though. Just had it for the first time this week. I felt like I was drinking a melted Otter Pop. Yuck.)
I wish I could say that my garage is full of #10 cans that are full of potato flakes, rice, and spaghetti. But alas, these cans lie empty, covered with the plastic wrap they came in, sitting on the palate the guy at the cannery let me take with me. They are left over from an order that was supposedly put in by sisters in my ward. An order that, as the emergency preparedness coordiator, I spent hours organizing, 4 hours filling, and paid for out of my pocket. Because I’m nice.
So what does a nice person do when people say that they could no longer afford the cans, or they don’t have time to use a sealer to seal the cans, or they were pregnant and about to give birth, or, my favorite, they didn’t know what they were actually signing up for and just put their name on the list to be nice? (Yes, nice. Everybody is nice. We’re a nice bunch, we Mormons.) I couldn’t just demand that they cough up the dough, so I swallowed it, smiled, and kept the cans. I reasoned that the whole thing was my fault because I didn’t manage the order well enough, so I took my lumps, took my cans, and decided to do better next time.
That was almost a year ago. Recently, we got another portable sealer for the ward for the month, and we put in another order for cans. I did do better this time, just like I said I would. I made everybody put their money up front. I didn’t send out a sign-up—just an email, so the only people who would respond would be people who were genuinely interested. This time, everybody paid, and when their own money is involved, people tend to show up. I was certain nary an extra can would find a home in our garage, and was encouraged when a sister even took some extra cans from the mountain, giddy at getting the opportunity to can some potato pearls.
(Yeah, people get excited about weird stuff when it comes to food storage. What can I say, Mormons are kinda freaky like that.)
I promised my husband that this time, I would put NO cans in the garage.
So I put the extra cans in the front hall closet.
What can I say, the sister who ordered them has a husband who just lost his job. It’s hard to be pushy about my front hall closet needs when she’s wondering how she’s going to make the mortgage payment next month.
So now my husband is making quips about how long it will be before our entire home is taken over by my #10 cans, and we have to throw out our furniture just to have room for them all.
Sometimes, in this church, it’s hard to be nice. Sometimes, people take advantage of that. And sometimes, that’s hard to swallow.
I don’t think it’s a uniquely Mormon thing, however. I’ve seen it happen it lots of big organizations where there are lots of moving parts. People flake out because they can, and the people in charge want the event/company/whatever to keep moving, so they give up more of their lives to make that happen. A ward is not the only place where 95% of the work is done by 10% of the people. And I suppose I would rather be numbered among the 10% as long as possible in case there is ever a time when I need to fall back into that 95%. I suppose we all have a season of service.
Mine, apparently, involves having a garage full of #10 cans.
Good thing I’m not the Relief Society President. Heaven knows what’s in her garage.