“Hey, Jan, are you willing to go shopping by yourself for a few hours on a Saturday and have various groups of youth leaders try to find you?”
Ohhh, scavenger hunt, count me in! Shopping without my usual entourage? Yes, please. Lunch is included? You had me at scavenger hunt.
(One of my dreams in life is to be the person who hands out the yellow envelope in the Amazing Race. You know, the one who stands on the mat, smiles and welcomes the contestants? That person. Might not win a million dollars, but that’s the role for me.)
Despite my big talk at all team-building games and events, I’m not competitive. I enjoy participating in things, not competing. Our staff recently had a car rally and our team was on fire! We were checking off the tasks in warp speed. And we had a blast doing it. Does it matter if we won or not? The whole point was to have fun and get to know each other apart from work. Winners, losers, those are just words. We all tried our best and demonstrated good sportsmanship.
Yeah, WE TOTALLY WON, SUCKERS!
Back to the Epic Waldo Hunt at the mall. When I agreed to help out, I understood I’d be shopping for two hours while the kids looked for me. I figured I’d be asked to wear a certain colour or they’d be given a picture of the Waldos. I did not anticipate props. I really didn’t anticipate itchy, wool props.
It was ironic and a tad evil that I had never worn a “teacher” vest or sweater and was required to don it for an afternoon. The fact that they matched my cords is strictly divine intervention.
Being a good sport and not one to bail even when faced with poor fashion choices (I lived through the 80s), I dashed off self-consciously and ducked into the first store I saw. I browsed the racks feeling very conspicuous. I went to pay for my purchases, wishing I had a sign stating that my outfit was for a good cause and not my usual attire, when the 20-something clerk commented, “I really like your vest.”
“What? Seriously? I’m wearing this for a scavenger hunt, I’m so embarrassed.”
“Yeah, really, it’s like a new trend going around.”
“I’m very, very sorry to hear that, but thank you.”
And off I went with my head held a little higher. I was barely out of the shop when two senior gentlemen walked by and I heard one say to the other, “I really like that vest she is wearing.”
And then, not two shops away, a cluster of hipster clerks were milling around the entrance of their store and called out to me, “LOVE the vest!”
They were not being sarcastic. They actually thought I was wearing it by choice and I was feeling pretty good now. Itchy, but good. I started strutting a little bit. Yup, this kindergarten teacher, mom of four is alright. I held my head high and started smiling and winking at fellow shoppers. Check it out, I’m on the cutting edge, wearing my retro vest. I was the John Travolta of that mall, I was modifying the lyrics to the Saturday Night Fever theme to customize it to my new look.
Then I ran into a few people I knew and preemptively greeted each one with “I’m wearing this vest against my will.”
I am not a trailblazer.