If I had a dollar for every time an MHYC staff member told me “Enjoy your time out in the field, I wish I could be doing that stuff again; now I’m just stuck in an office” as a Corpsmember last year, well, I’d probably have three dollars. But still. It happened, as Tom Waits would say, ‘enough that I’d remark on it’. My reaction was always the same: roll my eyes, think, ‘yeah, yeah, the grass is always greener on the other side’. As we welcome thirty-six new Corpsmembers – and as I find myself ‘just stuck in an office (just kidding, I don’t have an office. Or a desk. Or a chair.)’ – I spend more and more time recalling my year as an ACLC. Especially vivid are my first few days.
I remember hearing one of my fellow Corpsmembers being asked “Are you on the ACLC crew or on water?”. My first thought was, ‘How can someone be on water?’ and my second thought was, ‘Wait, what did that guy just say?’. It was like my first day in Italian 100 in college when the teacher decided to speak in Italian for the entire class. I had really no idea what I had just gotten myself into. New city, new apartment, new roommates, new job; no friends and no family within five hundred miles – I was a little fish in a huge ocean. But then things just started happening: name games, ice breakers, LOTS of paperwork, more ice breakers, more games, LOTS more paperwork. And pretty soon I began calling this giant warehouse ‘The Mezz’, and a tiny classroom ‘The Tank’. I began calling strangers ‘coworkers’ and then ‘friends’. I began installing thermostats in peoples’ homes. Just so you know, this involves playing with live wires that are red and blue and green and yellow. I was like Bruce Willis in Die Hard. Things that were foreign and scary and new when I started became accomplishments to be proud of and tools in my skill set.
The new AmeriCorps volunteers start today. I cannot wait to meet them, and remember when I walked in their shoes. Their energy and enthusiasm will be an inspiration to me. But, in all honesty, what I am most excited for is to be able to tell them, “Enjoy your time in the field, I wish I could be doing that stuff again; now I’m just stuck in an office.”