Friday, August 24, 2012

It's Just Me

The alarm rings at the ungodly hour of 3:15 a.m...and it's moments like this when I ask myself, "WHY am I doing this, again??!!" As in getting ready to head out on assignment with the American Red Cross.

Hubby and I somewhat stagger through our morning routine, with the intention of being on the road to the airport by 4:00 am. Our actual time is pretty close, give or take a few minutes...and we whizz through the darkened, empty streets of Kansas's amazing how there's no traffic at 4:00 am. Go figure.

Arriving at the airport by 5:00 am, I'm greeted by not one, not two, not three, but FOUR television cameras...each wanting an interview to present the story of local volunteers heading out to face the national threat looming in the Gulf region. I begin with the local CBS affiliate, and manage to sleepily mumble out what I HOPE are coherent thoughts. I've done media interviews before...and I've learned, over the years, that the trick to a good interview is to NOT look at the cameraman. Nope. Look directly at the interviewer and pretend that the big camera with a bright light that's blinding you in your eyes just doesen't even exist. If you EVEN look at the're doomed. The classic "deer in headlights" trance will envelope you, leaving you looking like a muddle-brained idiot. Wait. Interviewing at 5:00 am in the morning can leave you looking like a muddle-brained idiot, as well.

If you DO trip up on your words, or stumble, it's best to just move on and not think about it. I made this mistake in my first few interviews; I'd mess something up, and then I'd start mentally kicking myself...which then meant I didn't hear the next question at ALL. Oops. My bad. I've learned that the audience is forgiving...and they know, as well as I do, that I am NOT a professional speaker who's had a professional speech written for me.

Nope. It's just me. My words. My story.

After doing a quick interview with the NBC affiliate, followed by our FOX affiliate, I overheard the announcement that my plane was now boarding. I was not even through security - which looked to be about 30 people deep.


Thinking that the ABC affiliate would surely understand, as they'd already interviewed another member of our team, I headed over to jump in line for TSA and security. Wow - was I certainly surprised when I turned around and found the ABC reporter following me...where she proceded to interview and film me as I was going through the line. Other passengers were now turning to look to see who the television cameras were following, and I wanted to say, "It's nobody special. It's just me."

I managed to hop on the plane just as the "last call" went out...whew. So - on my way to Tampa.

Several hours later - with a beatiful sunrise over the clouds, a refreshing Diet Coke, and a brief stop in Chicago thrown in the mix - we landed in sunny and hot Tampa. An excited contingent of greeters began rushing up to us, ready to welcome us to the Republican National Convention. Not recognizing us as anyone special, they stopped, with looks of confusion on their faces....and I wanted to reassure them, "It's okay. It's just me."

After securing a rental car at the always-reliable Avis desk, a short drive to ARC Headquarters was in order...where we checked in, sat through several orientations, and then stepped out for a quick bite of lunch. Upon returning, I then discovered that I was miraculously promoted from Shelter Supervisor to Shelter Manager, of which my immediate response was, "Wait. Was I consulted on this promotion?!"'s just me. Am I ready to manage a shelter?

I guess I'll be finding out. I recruited five dedicated, committed ARC volunteers who will make up my Shelter Team, and we await our assignment in the morning. Where will be going? How many clients will we serve? What does the future hold?

A bit more paperwork...a long drive to our sparse, but comfortable motel room...a delicious dinner with new friends at a local steakhouse...and hopefully, a full night of sleep...

As I sign's just me. Just one of hundreds - wait, thousands - of dedicated volunteers who're ready for whatever happens.



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