Sunday, June 16, 2013

Special events--Such a pain, but so much fun

Setting up a booth for a special event is no easy feat. It has gotten more streamlined over the years, but I still need to take a serious hard look at the stuff I haul to set up a booth, and come up with lighter-weight options that are all in one place.

It may not sound like me (or if you know me well enough, maybe it does)I had a yelling--literally yelling--fit, yesterday, trying to find things for my regular booth that should have been right at hand. Didn't I just have a booth where I brought Thomas earlier this spring? Where was my stuff? I still have not found my small handbag of halters and leashes and I spent a good half-hour opening and slamming drawers, trying to find a halter that would fit skinny little Corky. And then a leash. I have half a hundred leashes. Could I find a single one? No, they were all in the magic missing handbag!

I had even set up a great little folder with a check list of things to do for a public booth, along with ready-made signs. Could I find it? No! Because when it comes to personal projects, I'm fitting in an hour here and an hour there, and need about three solid days to get everything organized from end-to-end.

It's times like this, when I have the least possible immediate enthusiasm for doing something, that I really need to do that thing. A big part of me is saying "The heck with it! I could be having coffee on my porch now! I could be doing cat laundry! Why I am doing this? No one cares!" (my little girl temper tantrum--or maybe my crotchety old lady temper tantrum--let's not blame the kids!).

In fact, what I need is a good dose of humanity. It means I've been in the woods too long.

I am not a kid person, in that I never wanted to be a mother. I knew that A) I was too selfish to give up a lot of my independence and B) I'm super protective/paranoid and would have had to learn a lot about "letting go" to allow a kid grow up with a healthy sense of adventure. This doesn't mean I don't like kids. I do indeed.

Kids don't see that "she's not a mom-type" thing. They just see this lady who likes cats, and they swarm my booths to pet the kitty. And I must say, what I see in kids in the last five years has been AMAZING.

Most of my donations (in number, not in overall size of course) came from kids. A child of about 12 actually put a dollar in my donation box and declined to take any of the small giveaways I have available (beads, Alley Cat Allies "I Love Feral Cat" buttons, emergency dog leashes). A dollar is a lot for a kid to give. She wasn't the only one. Kids didn't just put a penny in to "make a donation and get a gift." They gave handfuls of coins.

They also were extra gentle when it came to handling Corky. There was only one little boy who poked him with the hard end of the feather toy instead of gently playing, and his dad didn't ignore him or yell at him, he just took the toy from his hand, turned it around and said "No that's not how you do it. Use the soft side and play with him." And the boy did.

Kids did not whine when I was giving him breaks and wouldn't take him out of the cage. They gently put their hands up against the cage and allowed him to come to them and rub against their fingers. Other than being squirmy when he was held (on halter and leash--I did finally find a halter that fit and a knotted older leash in a drawer) Corky was a perfect "Adopt A Cat" ambassador.

I don't do too many adoptions in Spencer itself. As a village, there are more than enough kittens to be had just by walking out your door or talking to your neighbor. This isn't people being irresponsible and "not adopting" -- these are good-hearted people adopting the poor cat they find outside their door. But everyone I spoke with was enthusiastic about my budding "let's do a volunteer-run cat enumeration and apply for spay/neuter grants because national groups want real numbers about cats and TNR" idea and a few gave me their contact information and said they'd be willing to help go door-to-door if the time came.

I saw some residents I knew, and met some new ones. I came home with $26 in donations, which is probably a record for a Spencer event. People around here just don't have dollars to give away without advanced thought (especially when they probably had come with just X number of dollars budgeted to spend at the Picnic on food and fun for their kids).

All in all, I came home a lot more relaxed than when I had left. It was good to talk with neighbors, and it's always fun to watch the kids.

And that's why I do public events. Not-so-much to get donations. Not-so-much to advertise my cats for adoption. But pretty much to stay sane.

Thank-you Nancy, for the loan of the pop-up tent, and to Valarie, for the help setting up and tearing down!

1 comment:

  1. I went to one Poppa booth we set up in Corvallis on pet day, put on by the university vet students, and it was a ton of work. We made a couple hundred bu offering little games, we made the day before, like bean bag toss, through animal faces, that people could pay a dollar or fifty cents for three shots, with prizes for accumulated points. But then came a wind storm. We had weighted down the legs of the canopy we rented from the vet students but most other booths had not. Canopies went twisting and flying across the field towards the road. We ran and tried to anchor some down, and get the canopy off so it wouldn't become a deadly sail, but we wondered where were the vet students running the event and why weren't they chasing those flying canopies. That was the only time I was at one of those type of events you are describing, but that one was hard enough, to prepare for, set up, man the booth, break down.