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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks

For Judy

I was talking with a woman at church today whose grandson is in the band at Providence High School where my daughter graduated. She was telling me about going to two different band competitions yesterday. I have to admit, it made me a little nostalgic. Those were good days. It felt like we were in the middle of a little slice of Americana.

Every year Madi’s school hosted a band competition at the very end of the band season. It was one of the biggest in the area. It was an amazing event. There were between 18 and 21 schools that competed.

It was such a big undertaking that every student was required to volunteer for the day, and it was strongly suggested that each student have at least one parent volunteer. It was so much fun that parents would come back to work even after their kids had moved on to college.

The job I got roped into was one of the best. It was difficult and tiring, but we had fun. It resulted in arriving at 7:00 AM and getting in our cars to leave at about the same time Cinderella needed to be home.

The job entailed setting up several tents in the end zone of the football field, creating a kitchen and setting up a dining area for all of the band leaders and their entourage for both lunch and dinner, usually feeding around 150 people.

The preparations began months in advance. After coming up with a menu and game plan, a list went around. All of the food, drinks, and decorations had to be donated. There is no way the school could’ve afforded to host this event, much less turned a profit if they had not been donated by businesses in the community.

This meant we had to go to all of the business and ask for what we needed. The first year I was on the team my first thought was, “I can’t do that. What if they say no?” And then I realized that is the absolute worst thing that could happen: they could say no. It wouldn’t be pleasant, and it might be embarrassing, but that’s the extent of it.

I remember when Paul and I were first together, and I was horrified that he would go up and ask for something. He explained that guys are typically better at doing it simply because they are used to asking girls out on dates and inevitably being rejected a few times. That made so much sense to me that somewhere along the way I got to the point where I didn’t mind asking.

Today I approached Judy, a woman in church who is so talented in so many areas. I asked her if she would want to take over a committee that I am in charge of. I could immediately sense her back away, and then she explained.

She said she’s never been good at asking people for anything. It makes her feel guilty. She had been taught that asking for help was a sign of weakness. One of her friends told her if she had been raised Catholic, the nuns would have guilted her so much that she would be completely immune to all forms of it. But such was not the case.

Instead of being let down, I realized the coolest thing about the whole exchange was seeing someone who knows who they are and who they are not and stands by it. On a daily basis, we see too many people say yes to things simply because they are either afraid to say no or don’t understand the nuances of their own personalities.

So I will continue looking for a replacement and be a testament to surviving the worst case scenario: a big fat No. But if anyone out there happens to be interested in it.....

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