Help. I’m afraid to open my email.
No, it’s not that I fear creditors or pleas for rescue in the form of U.S. dollars being sent to a Nigerian prince.
It’s school-related emails that are scaring me. Worse than that, they’re hurting my feelings. These emails are from parents who are trying to either recruit volunteers or raise money. The problem is the people sending the emails are masters of the manipulative missive and have turned Sign-up Genius into an act of domestic terrorism.
You would think after all these years of having kids in school I would be, if not immune, then at least have thicker skin concerning email castigations masquerading as a request for volunteers. Not that I don’t volunteer. So please, no emails telling me that if I did volunteer I wouldn’t be receiving said emails. Sadly, that’s not the case and I blame the following list of emailers as the reason why.
The worst kind of digital communicator is what I call the Resume Reamer or Serial One Upper. This is when the parent doing the “all call” for volunteers lets you know, in no uncertain terms, that you’re dealing with a professional. You get a list of their volunteer credentials, including but not limited to chairmanships and board positions as a shot across the bow that this isn’t their first rodeo.
In the “I’m not kidding here department,” a PTA board member requested parents to submit a resume to “apply for the position of Home Room Mom.” I emailed back asking if they also required a psych evaluation because I thought the PTA board might need one. I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I share that I didn’t get selected to be the Second Grade Home Room Mom.
Coming in a very close second is the Guilt Tripper. This person in the first two sentences of the email shares that they work full time, compete in triathlons, is a lay pastor at their church, has been HOA president for four consecutive years, fosters squirrels whose habitat has been compromised by urban sprawl and maintains a strict fruitarian lifestyle all while chairing the book fair. Bonus: They’ve typed their email in all caps. I’ve concluded over the years that this is the passive aggressive way of saying, “Don’t give me any lame excuses about how you don’t have time. Just look at the things I do.”
Here’s some advice. If you want to recruit volunteers, don’t start off your email berating the parents at the school. The Scolder doesn’t waste time or mince words about letting you know the fact that they even have to send out an email requesting volunteers is a sign that your mom card should be pulled. Sure, they don’t write it quite like that, but you can read between the lines and figure out that what they’re really saying is that you’re shirking your parental duty by not living up at the school.
The sender of this email is usually a mother who volunteers so much she has her own cubby in the teacher workroom and covers the front office when the school secretary goes on break. When I get one of these, it takes everything I have to not reply, “Get a life.”
And while reading an email from the Scolder may seem unpleasant, it’s nothing compared with being swallowed up by a message from Ms. Pity Party.
The Pity Party person doesn’t email you a paragraph or two. It’s more of a novel about her daily existence, which, spoiler alert, is not going well. There’s usually a non-life threatening health ailment like a newly diagnosed dual allergy to the leather seats in her Range Rover and Pottery Barn down comforter, which has resulted in raging insomnia, thus explaining the rambling emails that are sent to you at 3 in the morning.
Ms. Pity uses sympathy for her life issues to persuade you to not only volunteer, but take over her carpool duties and coach her son’s 8 and under soccer team.
The Shamer is the queen of attempting to make you feel bad about yourself. There’s the opening line in the email that states some shocking statistic about how your kid’s education is going to hell in a hand basket and YOU are to blame. That’s followed by another line about how only a small percentage of parents care and volunteer. Then the Shamer goes in for the kill. The classic, “It’s always the same parents we see up at the school day in and day out — these are the ones making a difference.”
It takes everything I have not to type back, “That’s because you and your mom posse run off anyone who’s not in your crew.”
I know it’s not easy chairing an event or recruiting volunteers. Believe me, I want to help, and do. All I ask is to ease up on the emails. My in-box thanks you.
Freelancer Sherry Kuehl of Leawood writes Snarky in the Suburbs occasionally for 816. You can follow her on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and read her blog at snarkyinthesuburbs.com. Her new book is “Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble in Texas.”