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Spaced-out Princess tuned out

Alison Berkley

I got fired from another volunteer job.I wish I could say it was the first time, but it’s not. Maybe it’s because my mom never let me join the Girl Scouts. I wanted to, but she didn’t want me to become a “goody-goody two shoes” was how she put it.She said if I wanted to be a Girl Scout, I had to call the Den Mother myself and talk to her about it. For some reason that was enough to discourage me. I already had one mother, I didn’t need two, and I certainly didn’t need one who hung out in a den. Sounded very monsterlike.Maybe if I had been a Girl Scout, I would have learned to be more giving and whatever else they had to do to get all those pins. But instead, I was raised to believe that “you get what you pay for.”With this rationale, you spend a ridiculous amount of money on various things because you are convinced price equals quality (Helllllooo, Gucci). But you also make excuses about why you’re not good at jobs that don’t pay enough, or don’t pay anything at all. I guess there’s a sense of entitlement that comes with that, that you actually deserve to get paid for your time.Based on those principles, I should know better than to volunteer for anything, unless there is some other incentive like free stuff, or entrance to a cool party, or maybe because you’re filthy rich and totally bored. Oh yeah, charities are great, too. Can never have enough good karma points, especially considering all the sinning that goes on around these parts!My first volunteer debacle was back in Boulder, during college, after I dropped my major in art and before I found (cue uplifting organ music) journalism. In between losing myself and finding myself, I chose a major that allowed me to do both simultaneously: American Studies.Within this “interdisciplinary” major, I had to choose my “focus,” the American West. The whole idea of civilization in America before the pilgrims set up camp riveted me. I couldn’t wait to go home and blame my parents for sending me to fancy-pants private schools that left out these enormous chunks of history. New Englanders can be so damned provincial.I went on a field trip during my sophomore year to New Mexico and got to see some of the smaller, lesser known pueblos like Zuni and San Idelfonso as well as Chaco Canyon, Taos, Sante Fe and Mesa Verde. By the time we crossed the Colorado state line, my perception of America had totally changed and I felt like I grew up with my head screwed on backward.That’s when I decided to take an unpaid internship with a Native American art gallery on the Pearl Street Mall, which was owned by the New Yorker From Hell (naturally). She was one of these women who had short spiked hair, a little dog in a harness, and only wore clothes from Chico’s – you know, those baggy, cotton clothes in pastel colors that are meant to be accessorized with oversized bead necklaces and long scarves and chunky shoes. Even though our families probably went to the same temple, she hated me from go.Still, I made the most of it. I’d wear as much turquoise and silver as I could fit around my neck, wrists and fingers until I looked like a Navajo Christmas tree. I loved meeting all the visiting artists, loved to watch them unload their Zuni fetishes or Hopi inlay jewelry from heavy velvet sheaths.I tried to be that knowledgeable sales girl who could help the tourists make a choice from our “eclectic” selection of “original, authentic Native American Art” but every time a customer came in, the NYFH made me go Windex the display counter or make sure there was enough toilet paper in the bathroom.Never the good actress, there was no fooling NYFH about how I felt. Eye-rolling was another little habit I picked up from mom. One day during Art Walk, she asked me to arrange cookies on a tray just-like-so. But no matter how I stacked them, piled them or lined them in a circle, it just wasn’t right. When I told her I’m not a caterer, she fired me. Just like that.Even though I couldn’t stand her, I cried. There is just something about getting fired from a job you’re not even getting paid for that really hits you where it hurts.Anyhoo, there I was at Mountain Fair in Carbondale last Sunday with a root beer float in one hand and a patchwork sundress in the other about to visit the psychic, when it dawned on me that I had totally forgotten to show up for my volunteer radio gig at 10 a.m. on KAJX. Oops!I was scheduled to do my fourth appearance on the Anne Brown Show to talk about relationship dynamics in the mountains (why they wanted me in the first place is topic for another discussion). I shouldn’t say I worked for free because the on-air therapy was fabulous (Anne is a mind-reader and she can crack your head open like an egg. Chances are you’re probably not as complicated as you think), and there is nothing cooler than seeing John Noonan cut that intro in real life – he’s the real deal.Since it was the second time “I forgot” to show up (Sundays mornings are tough) they kindly told me they found someone to replace me. Bad, bad Princess!But as much as I love “new experiences” and “free publicity” there is something about dollars and cents that gives you that extra little incentive to, like, show up for work.The Anne Brown Show airs Monday at 11:30 on KAJX. E-mail the irresponsible princess at alison@berkleymedia.com.


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