Monday, June 11, 2012

Matron! You're on Candid Camera!

Why depend on eye bags to age you, when there are blog titles?

Tonight, the Matron attended a Parks and Recreation department meeting for dog park volunteers.  At Parks and Rec, dog park volunteers are called Dog Park Guardians/Stewards.  This is because Parks and Rec could not decide on whether or not to call volunteers (who mostly tell people to pick up doo-doo) Dog Park Stewards OR Dog Park Guardians.

Let's just use both!

The Matron is a brand spanking new Dog Park Guardian/Steward.   In preparation for the Dog Park Steward/Guardian annual meeting, she received and responded to half a dozen emails.  Each was about which type of boxed dinner she would like and each had to be repeated.

The meeting itself is in a squat strip mall-like building.  The room?  Straight out of the television show:  a dazzling gray-brown color scheme, barren walls, big square table, folding chairs.  The walls are lined with boxes and more chairs, crumpled poster paper.   The unremarkable table is stacked full of boxed Panera sandwiches, each neatly labelled.  Boldly, gleefully, attentively in charge of these boxed delights is:  the Director of Parks and Recreation.

She is a blonde with Amy Poehler hair.  This Director of Parks and Recreation (who is chirping:  "Who has honey-glazed turkey with feta?!!" ) is wearing a canary yellow pantsuit with a voluminous scarf   to compliment.   In a room full of t-shirt, short and sandal-wearing volunteers whose hands most likely were recently scooped in a poop bag, she is wearing three inch heels and a manicure made to glimmer and shine under fluorescent light.

Here is where the Matron does the camera scan.   Surely, this cannot be true.  She has landed-smack dab into the center of a television show.   The Matron herself even complied, dressing the part in her shorts, sandals and t-shirt, clutching the thick packet of Dog Park Guardian/Steward Information and with appropriately bewildered yet authoritative look on her face.

The Dog Park Guardian/Stewards hunker up to their boxed lunches around the square table and introduce themselves by sharing their names -- and what kind of dog they own.  The Matron actually went first and initiated the dog thing.  She thought it would add flavor.  Some extras really do contribute to content!

After the Director of Parks and Recreation led the staid volunteers through a 45 minute treatise brief history of area dog parks, county commitment, various constituencies and the importance of being a team player, there is hearty discourse over the Parks and Recreation's brand new Dog Park Rules.  

These rules are presented in a paper handout, appearing as they will once they are laminated and hoisted onto trees.  You know how rules are listed - 1,2, 3?

  Here are the Rules

  1.  Do not in the first place come into the possession of an 80 lb Walker Coon Hound
  2. If you do find yourself so unfortunately situated, be sure to walk him.
  3. When he knocks you over, it is okay to curse the gods and cry a little, knowing this will happen again tomrorow

The Dog Park Rules constructed by the Parks and Recreation staff (in consultation with various appropriate agencies) have headings and subheadings.  Sort of like this, but only with a more refined degree of murkiness.  

Here are the Rules That are the Law

  1. Rule
  2. Rule
  3. Rule

Here are the Rules that are Unenforceable but We Hope You Follow

  1. Rule
  2. Rule
  3. Rule

Here are the Rules that Animal Control Wants Listed

  1. Rule
  2. Rule
  3. Rule

This unwieldy structure generated must hoopla and heat among volunteers who wanted simplicity.  As in "Rules" 1,2,3.    The Director of Parks and Recreation wanted to distinguish between various institutional means of enforcement and authority.


Director of P &R:  "This way when Law Enforcement comes to a call they can look at the sign and know what they are authorized to enforce."

This confused the Matron who spent the next few minutes wondering how Law Enforcement was thus able to respond to other emergency calls.  Were there little flashcards or posters at each burglary?  The things you discover, as a Dog Park Guardian/Steward with a boxed dinner and Information Packet.

In the end, the Parks and Recreation staff settled on footnotes.  The Matron was proud to participate in  (as another skeptical, observant and equally bewildered Dog Park Guardian/Steward noted) the creation of the only known tree-bound set of rules for a dog park to be organized by footnotes.

As the meeting was breaking up, the Director of Parks and Recreation expressed her interest in 'keeping in touch' with "the social that we have now in the media."

Director:  "You can use the facebook.   I think everybody has the facebook now.   Maybe some of you even have the Twitter.  I don't use the facebook but it's a good community-building tool!"

After securing her Dog Park Guardian/Steward t-shirt and whistle, the Matron filed out with the other sandal-wearing drones, dizzy yet appropriately directed.

It was an entirely satisfying event.