Friday, November 21, 2008

Temper, Temper

We served 62 people at the food bank today. Being the week before Thanksgiving, and the last Friday of the month (we're closed next Friday) I wasn't surprised. I resisted closing the sign-in list until well after 3pm, but when I realized that the list went to 70, 45 of them had been checked in and 30 of them had been served by 3:30, I decided I had to go with the commitment made to the volunteers. They didn't even start leaving until 4:30. It was a long day; I didn't even take a lunch.

There seems to be a direct correlation between how much English a new client speaks and how many people come into the food bank to drop off donations, get something signed, interview to be a volunteer, and how many times the phone rings. If that person doesn't speak English or Spanish, add 5% (it occurs to me that none of the non-English speakers today spoke Spanish, either). On top of that, two little girls got in a fight - the littler one threw a plastic stool, which broke apart - and a baby was crying most of a solid hour and a half.

All the volunteers, including a brand-new one (who fortunately has worked at another food bank), were very pleasant to all of these clients today. It was hot and loud inside the trailer, and all of us kept our tempers. I'm especially interested to note that I kept my temper today, since circumstances pointed to other times when I've lost it: The food bank director was at the food bank less than an hour today; I didn't get a break; I didn't eat very well; the phone was off the hook for an hour so there were 12 messages to take and return; there were a lot of things going on all day that I had to manage.

This evening I was talking with Miz Jinkins about none of us losing our tempers today, and she said that she thought that "losing your temper" should mean that it went away, and "keeping your temper" means staying mad. I think the words "control of" are implied in the phrase to the extent that we leave them out altogether: "I'm keeping [control of] my temper" or "I'm losing [control of] my temper." Still, I like the visuals of "loosing" rather than "losing" - "I'm loosing my frustration." That is what it feels like to me - I loose my temper, it's out and bounces away.

Fortunately today I didn't lose or loose my temper. I think I may be mellowing out, because I know that a lot of the same conditions that have really tested me in the past don't get to me the same way that they used to. I do not consider myself a mellow person by any means. But I may be mellowing. How does that happen?

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