The Last Post

How I came to be a volunteer is unknown to me. I suspect I applied in response to an emailed invitation. The invitation was the likely result of ticking a check box on a web form.

Back in June or July, Dr D recommended that I seek out opportunities to volunteer. I was hesitant. Initial awareness of my injury first came when I volunteered for another organization on a date now almost four years in the past. Volunteer work would likely force me to confront further evidence of incapacity. My private failings would likely become very public. I had no wish to further embarrass, or humiliate myself. I had no confidence in my ability to perform.

There was the economic issue to deal with as well. Transportation to the volunteer location would be required as would lunch money. In my normal day, lunch was regularly omitted in order to reduce food costs. Then there was the issue of appropriate attire. During my last household cleanup I had donated many of my suits and much other work attire. Transport, food, and clothing, would all eat up money from an already threadbare budget. I listened to Dr D’s July suggestion but did not act on it until one month ago.

The first step in volunteering was attendance at an orientation session. I arrived in a conference room with twenty other prospective volunteers and we were given an introduction to the organization, and the role we were to play. I tried to melt into the group, to be an ordinary fish hidden within the piscatorial sea. This attempt at invisibility was frustrated when we were each required to introduce ourselves to the group, and deliver a brief statement. Somehow I managed to pass that test.

I did not do as well at the end of the session. In speaking with C, the volunteer coordinator, I experienced great difficulty upholding my end of the conversational thread. In a post mortem assessment, I believed I came across as argumentative, or pushy. The reason for this is that I had to work very hard to remain engaged in our discussion, to understand what was being said, and prepare my own response. I did not want to appear “slow” so I worked hard to be “normal” and the outcome was a bastard impersonation of my former self. This failing did not auger well for my future participation in the program. I had grave doubts about my ability to continue.

My initial shift was scheduled for a Wednesday. On that date there was a shooting on Parliament Hill. The entire downtown core was blocked off and the police were requesting everyone stay away. Secretly relieved that force majeure prevented me from working my scheduled shift, I considered abandoning the entire undertaking.