Monday, April 30, 2012

Volunteer of the YEAAAR!!!

The plan was to get up early and go to Run Like a Wildebeest Saturday, but I woke up with my legs feeling really beat up from the 8 miles on Friday.  I'm not sure if it was the stairs or the dehydration, but I knew if I went to the race, I wasn't going to keep up the streak of lower times for the year.  I woke up to take the dog out at 6am, and I just wasn't feeling it in the legs.

That's what I'm trying to convince myself happened, anyway.  Sure, I woke up and my legs hurt, but I just wanted my extra sleep, which I have to say, was amazing.  Of course the usual routine when this happens on a Saturday is as follows:  sleep in for at least another hour, try to find a feed of the 2nd half of the West Ham game online, watch them play to a draw when they had double or triple the shots of the other, lesser team, make some variation of huevos rancheros, and think to myself "man I should have done that race."

This weekend, I knew how I usually feel missing a race and I probably would have made myself go, but I had a back-up plan.  There was a Flint River Coalition clean-up of the nearby creek at 9am (and many other sites in the county).  I could get an extra hour of sleep, still do some volunteering, and not feel like I wasted my whole morning being lazy.  It was the perfect excuse.

So I picked up the puppy, went back inside, slept another hour, and went to the clean-up site at 9.  There were enough volunteers this year to where all the garbage pickers were gone. The organizers were a little surprised at the turn out, being the last one only had 3 people.  The difference?  They posted this one on the internet. So it was up to just me and a pair of gloves to hop to it.

I was sent down the road toward an abandoned Sunoco station where I was told was a huge mess.  Knowing there were so many people covering the ground, on my way there I got really bold right away, slid down the bank of the creek, waded into some ankle-deep water, pulled a tire back up the steep bank, and threw it out near the road.  That was pretty much the catch of the day.  In your face, Charlie Murphy.

I continued my way down the bank cleaning up until I ran into John, who was one of the organizers, I think.  He was reaching at trash with a long picking pole, and getting a lot of stuff off the bank on our side.  I told him about the tire and started snagging what I could in the bank just ahead of where he was working, slowly making way to the gas station and realizing this one trash bag wasn't going to last much longer.

Then I saw it, the trash heap in the making behind the gas station.  There were bottles, styrofoam containers, and about everything you could imagine back there.  Some of it had made its way down to the bank, but most of it was just kind of strewn about on the property.  Not only that, but there were large signs and pieces of plastic too sharp and large to bag all over the place.  We had our work cut out for us, and there were only 4 of us at this particular spot: John, Mike, myself, and a I woman that I believe was Dolores? ("Mulva?").  I feel bad forgetting her name, but she never officially introduced herself.  I only thought I overheard it when she said hello to someone that knew her.  She just kept calling me "young buck" though, so I guess it's fine.

I don't really see the resemblance...
We got right down to business, though, and cleared out that entire area.  We worked really well together, using each other's bags, making human chains to grab trash by the water, passing big things to each other like the old fireman bucket carry technique.  It was just unconscious.  There were a lot of spilled bags of what was obviously the old gas station's trash that was just dumped back there (didn't want to pay for one more dumpster pull huh?).  I think some homeless people were squatting there at one point because there was a ton of food, drink, and Crown Royal bottles (25 or so) scattered about near a few blankets and things.  I don't know though, Crown Royal is pretty high-rolling for a hobo.  Maybe it was kids, but then what kind of kids actually go for straight CR?  There were no Coke bottles.  I guess we'll never know for sure.

We had everything up with still an hour to go in the clean-up effort.  So we headed back on the other side of the creek, through the thick of the wooded part near the south bank, trying to find more.  It was actually quite clean over there, but we made a very big effort to find things, and I took another trip into the creek for a blue plastic bag that was calling my name.  I only made it back out by tight-roping a log, jumping, and grabbing a small tree.  My feet were too cold to want to walk in the water more to a less steep area.  I also wanted to see how awesomely agile I am for a fat guy ("you might not know it to look at me, but I can [also] run really, really fast"...sorta).

After we finally admitted we couldn't find anything more, we started heading back to the meeting spot, and we met up with Susan (who was another one running this thing) and told her where we had all the stacked bags of stuff, the tire, etc.  She asked us if we wanted a water bottle and gave us each one of these...

They also tried to feed me after with a BBQ, but I'm not a big pork fan, so I bailed and went and ate left-overs while watching about 4 minutes of the MSU Green & White game.  Something I was unaware of until volunteer Mike was talking about going home to watch.  I was kind bored after that 4 minutes of that.  So I took our puppy out for stroll, and then my lady came home and we dated to Mexican food and the new Cusack movie, "The Raven," which was pretty sweet.  You can't really take my word for it, though.  I love fake, inaccurate history movies that use real people/real events as a backdrop, and my man-love for Cusack is high enough that it was brought up in the Best Man's speech at my wedding.  Also, there is "High Fidelity" poster within 20 feet of me as I type this.

All in all, I had a really good Saturday.  Honestly though, I don't really volunteer THIS much.  It's just kind of coincidental, and it's probably something I wouldn't have done if I hadn't went to that garlic mustard run and pull a week before.  Then again, running has led to a lot of other life changes, so who knows?  Maybe I'll be doing more of this, granted I can find the time and the places to be for it.  For some reason I think volunteers are like this secret society that hide their events from you until the holidays.  Anyway, It's actually a pretty good way to spend the day, and I got to meet a few of my neighbors and sorta get to know them.  I guess that's better than the huevos rancheros...but maybe not by much.

P.S. - I'm still pretty sure it would have been possible to do this and the race, and it looks like I would have won the 220+ heavyweight run division by a good margin.  Serves me right for not showing up.  Oh well, I really should just be losing more weight and running age group anyway.  Of course for that to happen I'd have to not do things like deep frying twinkies...

I know you can see this Running Spike...Nummy, Nummy!


  1. I don't understand how someone can NOT like High Fidelity. I've tried to get family to watch it and they walk away. Also, I wish Jack Black would get a serious band together rock out. I like Tenacious D, but can you imagine if they really tried?

    And you're kind of inspiring me to go out looking for some volunteer work. Earth day wasn't too far back, so why not?


    1. My family is the same. They don't like it, and they liken its quality to "Death to Smoochy" which is the other of the two worse movies I've ever exposed them to.

      Actually going to see Tenacious D here in the summer. I'm not sure if the serious coat would fit too well, but who knows. I think it's just what it is, a fun, semi-creative outlet that's just another aspect of the career, and I can understand wanting to keep it that. Trying to be a real band probably has way too much B.S. to put up with.

  2. way to go volunteer pro! Its one of my new years resolutions yet I've still only made it out twice.

    1. That's okay, I'm semi-failing my resolutions too.

  3. Glad you decided to help the earth. Good job for that. Also, I'd let my mouth make slow, sweet, sexy love to that twinkie.


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