Author Topic: Biting the hand that feeds you  (Read 8927 times)

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cocacola35

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Biting the hand that feeds you
« on: September 23, 2012, 12:05:16 PM »
Came across this story on the home page of Etiquette Hell.  The Admin's response is in italics:   

My previous church had a program where volunteers could bring cooked meals to sick or bereaved parishioners. There was an on-line calendar where we could sign up to ensure we were not duplicating efforts and that the recipients had a delivery of food each day. I signed up to help one family where the mother was sick. I arrived on the correct day, walked up to the house bearing my gifts and rang the bell.

    After a couple of minutes a lady, about the right age to be the sick parishioner’s mother or aunt, opened the door. She fixed me with an angry glare and loudly snapped,  “I TOLD the church, we don’t need any more food”. I was taken aback and was wondering if it would be polite to take the food away with me, and if I did, what my husband was going to think of eating lasagna and apple crisp for the next four or five days. Fortunately I did not have to worry over this for too long. With a loud sigh the woman declared, “Oh well, I suppose we’ll take it”, and took the food trays into the house and closed the door.

    I went home and wrote a polite e-mail to the meal organizer suggesting she contact the sick parishioner to confirm whether or not any more food was needed. You will be happy to hear that the parishioner had made a full recovery.

    After that I confined my volunteer efforts to weeding the church parking lot and trimming the trees. I’d rather deal with thorny creatures of the plant variety than the human ones. 0728-12

There are several online meal organizers/calendars now available and I think they are great!   TakeThemAMeal.com and  MealTrain.com are two of my favorites.

I think your response of backing out entirely from any further meal contributions is a little overly dramatic. The older woman does not appear to even be a member of your congregation and therefore her behavior should not reflect poorly on the sick congregant’s entire family or on every person who gets sick.   And one does not know what stresses have been weighing on her which led her to express her exasperation.  At most, I think I would have been hesitant about signing up to bring meals to that particular family in the future  and certainly not written off the entire congregation as unworthy of receiving any more food from me.


Personally, I disagree with the Admin's response.  I think the OP had every right to choose not to spend her time and money with this meal service after being treated so rudely by the older woman opening the door. The OP handled the situation correctly by informing the organizers about the woman's complaint and then volunteering her time for another service in the church that suited her better.

If this was my first experience to help out with this meal service and the person receiving the help snapped rudely at me for something that wasn't my fault, I would have probably quit too- not just because of the rudeness but also due the nature of the complaint it sounds like this organization isn't being run very well.  Not something I would want to continue to be a part of.  If I volunteer my personal time and money towards a cause, I don't expect the people receiving the help to fall over me with thanks or even to say "thank you" but I will not participate if I'm consistently being verbally attacked by entitled individuals.  That just kills the joy of volunteering for me.

I realize that the older woman may have been under some stress due the illness of her loved one, but in my book that is still no excuse to lash out at people that are trying to offer their time and help.  I've been in similar situations when my husband was very ill and I could get upset more easily at times, however I was never ugly to anyone that offered to help- that person didn't know that many friends had already given me food, offered rides to the hospital, etc.  It got frustrating at times to tell people constantly that I am doing okay at the moment, but in grand scheme of things this was a "frustration" that I was kind of thankful to have.  It showed how many people were thinking of us.  If I snapped at them, then hubby and I would find ourselves facing the situation alone.

   

Cosmasia

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Re: Biting the hand that feeds you
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2012, 12:17:37 PM »
I agree with you and I think that Admin's comments where actually completely unnecessary. If OP doesn't want to continue anymore because of this, then she just doesn't. It's not overly dramatic or sensitive, it's not even rude. It just is.
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Emmy

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Re: Biting the hand that feeds you
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2012, 01:12:46 PM »
I have to agree with you as well.  The OP is entitled to volunteer her time and efforts how she chooses.  I don't think it makes her overly dramatic to back away from this ministry after this experience.  It seems the administrator is overly harsh on the OP and overly kind to the woman who was heinously rude.  Many people are in stressful situations and don't snap at somebody trying to be nice to them.  I could even give the woman the benefit of the doubt and see how she unfairly snapped at the OP in the time of a stressful situation.  What I can't wrap my head around was her opening the door a second time to ask for the food in a less than polite manner.  I think if she had the presence of mind to ask for the food, she should have had the presence of mind to apologize for her initial rudeness.

Sterling

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Re: Biting the hand that feeds you
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2012, 01:36:43 PM »
When I read that I had the same thoughts.  I get that you don't do charity for the thanks BUT if it is being run so badly that you actually are being yelled at for bringing food it isn't something you should waste your time on.
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Queen of Clubs

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Re: Biting the hand that feeds you
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2012, 01:50:45 PM »
I think if she had the presence of mind to ask for the food, she should have had the presence of mind to apologize for her initial rudeness.

I really agree with that!  The woman sounds obnoxious, and I don't blame the OP for deciding to not volunteer for that program any more.  It doesn't sound as though whatever message the woman sent to the church got through to the program, so who knows if it'd happen again (though I'd hope no one else would be that rude).

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Biting the hand that feeds you
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2012, 01:55:53 PM »
In the OP's place, I would have reacted the same way.  I might not have completely withdrawn from the program but there is no way I'd ever take a meal over to that household again.

The OP didn't make a big production of it; she just changed her volunteer commitment.  I don't see any drama there at all.
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oogyda

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Re: Biting the hand that feeds you
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2012, 04:29:32 PM »
I understand the admin's point of view because I deal with someone like that on a regular basis.  I call them exremists or, at least, extremely over reactionary. 

It's all or nothing.  In this case, it's all "thank you, you're so great" or it's never do that again. 

In my case, it's along the lines of "Thank you for weeding my garden, but you pulled out some viable plants while you were at it."
being met with "I won't ever weed again." 

So, I get it.  I agree that it was a little dramatic.  I see it all the time.
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Wonderflonium

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Re: Biting the hand that feeds you
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2012, 05:08:56 PM »
No, dramatic would have been, "Based on this experience, I'm never volunteering again!" Instead she just decided, "You know, this program isn't well run and is not for me. I'll volunteer to do something else instead." That is a completely rational decision and more than some people would have done.

Perhaps if enough people give feedback and pull out of the program, the people running it will start doing a better job.
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CakeBeret

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Re: Biting the hand that feeds you
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2012, 05:58:53 PM »
No, dramatic would have been, "Based on this experience, I'm never volunteering again!" Instead she just decided, "You know, this program isn't well run and is not for me. I'll volunteer to do something else instead." That is a completely rational decision and more than some people would have done.

Perhaps if enough people give feedback and pull out of the program, the people running it will start doing a better job.

Agree with Wonderflorium. I would also find another area to volunteer my time. I have social anxiety and one of my most severe hang-ups/fears is being in a situation like the one posted. I would have a LOT of trouble continuing the meals program, and instead would find a less "risky" volunteering path.
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gen xer

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Re: Biting the hand that feeds you
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2012, 06:31:18 PM »
Organizations need to stand up for their volunteers or they will not have any more.  I realize that it is impossible to predict an reaction like that....but the organization should be made aware of incidents like this.

Sharnita

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Re: Biting the hand that feeds you
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2012, 06:35:28 PM »
I think that I'd let more than one person influence my understanding of the program before I made a decision like that - I think that was what the administrator was asking.  If you are delivering food to people they probably aren't feeling the best physically and/or emotionally.  This woman might have been having a bad day, she might have been confused, she might have been dumping on the volunteer.  There is no way of knowing whether she really did let the program know she didn't want food and there is no way of knowing if she is representative of other participants.  I could see an e-mail asking about it but to make a decision without asking or any further experiences does seem to be jumping the gun a bit.  I certainly don't disagree with the administrator.

miranova

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Re: Biting the hand that feeds you
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2012, 06:40:26 PM »
I think that I'd let more than one person influence my understanding of the program before I made a decision like that - I think that was what the administrator was asking. 

I agree with this.  I would not let one cranky, ungrateful woman put me off from cooking meals if that is what I felt like I wanted to do.  Sure, if she wants to refocus her volunteer efforts that is perfectly fine, but I agree that choosing to never cook again due solely to ONE person's rude response seems to be an overreaction to me as well.

Emmy

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Re: Biting the hand that feeds you
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2012, 07:48:25 PM »
I understand the admin's point of view because I deal with someone like that on a regular basis.  I call them exremists or, at least, extremely over reactionary. 

It's all or nothing.  In this case, it's all "thank you, you're so great" or it's never do that again. 

In my case, it's along the lines of "Thank you for weeding my garden, but you pulled out some viable plants while you were at it."
being met with "I won't ever weed again." 

So, I get it.  I agree that it was a little dramatic.  I see it all the time.

I don't think your example correlates with the situation.  In the weeding example, it would be like somebody snapping "Get out of my yard!  I told the church not to send anybody else over", then adding with a sigh "well now that you are here go ahead and weed the garden".  I don't get the impression that the OP expected the recipient to fawn over her with gratitude.  I don't blame the OP for not wanting to go in the same situation again.  If I was in her shoes, I probably wouldn't quit volunteering to make meals, but I wouldn't continue in that ministry unless I could call and arrange a delivery time with the recipient directly.

TootsNYC

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Re: Biting the hand that feeds you
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2012, 07:53:47 PM »
I understand the admin's point of view because I deal with someone like that on a regular basis.  I call them exremists or, at least, extremely over reactionary. 

It's all or nothing.  In this case, it's all "thank you, you're so great" or it's never do that again. 

In my case, it's along the lines of "Thank you for weeding my garden, but you pulled out some viable plants while you were at it."
being met with "I won't ever weed again." 

So, I get it.  I agree that it was a little dramatic.  I see it all the time.

I agree with you. And Sharnita and miranova.

I think that my own reaction would have been to alert the organizer, but also to check my own expectations, assumptions, etc.

This lady made food enough that her own family (maybe just her and DH) would have been eating lasagne and apple crisp for 4 or 5 days. How many people were in the sick person's family? Are people bringing too much food? Did the OP make too much food?

And yes, I might not volunteer for that ministry again if I felt that it wasn't much needed, or was badly organized, or even if it had plenty of other enthusiastic volunteers and my own contribution wasn't particularly powerful.

But I wouldn't need to announce that I restricted my ministry to weeding so I didn't have to deal with pesky people again.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Biting the hand that feeds you
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2012, 08:02:45 PM »
When my mother was dying, many, many people brought stuff over to us.  All items were gratefully received, even when we were being over run.  Things that could be frozen were, things that couldn't be frozen were eaten if we could, tossed if we couldn't.

But we would never tell somebody we didn't want something, when they were standing on our doorstep, food in hand.  The person who answered the door was incredibly rude to the OP and I don't blame the OP for her reaction at all.  I might have continued to take meals to people I knew well but wouldn't sign up for anyone else.
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