‘Nova Underground

Mel Forest

Where do I begin this story of the service day from hell? In order to fully understand, I suppose we’ll look back upon the night before that 8:30 a.m. Pavilion function. It started out with a not-so-innocent dinner with friends; there were people shouting over tables and racing to finish drinks leading up to incoherent stumbling down the Main Line. I probably bumped into at least 20 other people who pledged allegiance to the next day’s service festivities, knowing full well they’d be hungover too. When my 7 a.m. wake-up call came around, I found myself cursing my self-fulfilled prophecy. 

Of the 15 registered volunteers in my group, Team Hardcore, three people aside from myself showed up. Among the truants was our service leader — what a gem. No one was van certified, so we opted to drive our pygmy party to the service site ourselves. However, feeling embarrassed about Team Hardcore’s attendance problem, we terrorized and kidnapped two friends on the way. The fools should have locked their apartment door. 

The party of six finally arrived after a very uncomfortable and 20-minute squish in the back seat of the car. Nevertheless, the director of the site expressed great admiration for my new-found talent for mulching. Following the mulching was a fantastic reflection, headed by our last minute volunteer leader, which led to a long and intense discussion on things much too serious and intelligent to be mentioned in this mindless comedic column. 

It may sound as if I’m hating on the Day of Service, but I am not. In fact, I enjoyed the dysfunctional events that took place on Saturday. Mulching is much better than some of my more traumatizing volunteer jobs. In high school, I was taken hostage by two elderly women in an old folks’ home. For 10 minutes I was crammed into a coat closet with them, fearing for my future as an angry old woman wearing a wedding dress and too much blush, like in “Great Expectations.” Then there was the time when one of the Graterford prisoners informed me that his wife, who he had murdered, was named Melinda. That was certainly the longest, most awkward handshake of my life. 

Although it may just be for one afternoon, the Day of Service demonstrates a motivational push toward giving back to our Philadelphia community. Not everything goes perfectly when you’re organizing over 4,500 people. All in all, from my day of service I’ve learned that Team Hardcore was in fact pretty hardcore.