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Unread 04-30-2012, 09:50 PM
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Terrible Volunteer Experience

I must first comment to say that next to all of the volunteers I encountered at Championships were friendly, helpful, and pleasant to be around. Truly embodied gracious-professionalism. However - there was one in particular I as both a mentor and a FIRST participant had a serious issue with.

There was a particular woman outside of the pits - where they had the extra pairs of goggles. On the first day I didn't have my own set to get into the pit with or use for the day. So I asked very politely if I could sign them out for the day - and instead of trying to work something out I was met with the following dialogue.

Me: "...May I sign a pair out for the day"
Her: "YOU NEED TO HAVE A MENTOR SIGN THEM OUT"
Me: "Sure. I'm a mentor. Ill sign"
Her: "IF YOU WERE A MENTOR YOU WOULD HAVE SAFETY GLASSES OF YOUR OWN"
Me: "I don't pack the equipment - I actually travel to my team from college..."

and here's where is really got me fired up:

Her: "WELL THEN YOU AREN'T A REAL MENTOR."
direct. quote.

I must comment to say: WOW. How any volunteer with FIRST could say such a thing is beyond me. That was probably the rudest thing I have ever heard at a FIRST event - And these are the people we let deal with our guests...but it gets worse.

I borrowed a pair of glasses from another team member for the remainder of the weekend(Scouter). On Saturday morning - I was putting them on as I walked into the pit and they snapped in half right down the middle. The same woman was present and not wanting to go through that again I sent one of my students in to get me some gorilla tape so I could attempt to tape my glasses back together. Sadly the bridge wouldn't seem to stay on my nose - and so reluctantly I had to ask to borrow a pair.

I explained my story and showed her the broken glasses and after a brief exchange of trying to get her to compromise she said -

"FINE. take the D*mn glasses"

and reached towards the bottom of a filled bucket to find the ugliest, oldest, dirtiest pair she had.

I filed a complaint both days with the other volunteers - but obviously nothing was done to correct it. This thread is not to jump on one person but to hopefully promote an interest in finding a solution to the problem. It is partly my fault for not owning my own pair - but to be met with this sort of hostility at a family event - and to have my integrity as a mentor questioned...that is unforgivable. While volunteers are donating their time, I think FIRST should try a little harder to find some graciously-professional people. Not like what I had to experience. Or at least provide a channel so that we can report incidents like this...
/end rant

Last edited by JohnSchneider : 05-01-2012 at 04:29 PM.
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Unread 04-30-2012, 10:02 PM
Christopher149 Christopher149 is offline
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Re: Terrible Volunteer Experience

Wow, you really got chewed out. I empathize with you as a college mentor, as there have been instances of the "not a real mentor" mentality, though not like this.

There have been some volunteers with whom there has been friction (mostly queuing staff) but never to the level of profanity.
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Unread 04-30-2012, 10:04 PM
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Re: Terrible Volunteer Experience

FIRST could have some people that the volunteers don't know interact with them to test their integrity, and these volunteers could be dealt with accordingly. Even if it is a volunteer job, it's preposterous to be so rude, and hopefully this way they can be replaced by another person if they are so unruly.
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Unread 04-30-2012, 10:05 PM
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Re: Terrible Volunteer Experience

Something similar happened to me last year in St. Louis. My team was moving through the pits to go outside (I forget why) and I was the only one with no glasses. They wouldn't let me use a pair because I was a team member, and I had no way to contact any team members or mentors to get me some.

After ten minutes one of the volunteers kindly went to my pit to notify a mentor of my problem and I finally had a pair of glasses with which to make my 15 second trek through the presentation booths and out the back door.

I've never encountered anyone at a FIRST event that swore at people or were anything but the nicest people on the planet. I hope she didn't have the opportunity to talk to many people, because I would honestly have left the stadium and never came back if I were a spectator, sponsor, or anyone else like that.
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Unread 04-30-2012, 10:06 PM
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Re: Terrible Volunteer Experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher149 View Post
Wow, you really got chewed out. I empathize with you as a college mentor, as there have been instances of the "not a real mentor" mentality, though not like this.

There have been some volunteers with whom there has been friction (mostly queuing staff) but never to the level of profanity.
I usually sympathize with the queueing staff, especially during the early quals. Their frustation is pretty understandable, but the safety glasses people really don't have the same stress on them. Still, behavior like this is just entirely inexcusable.
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Unread 04-30-2012, 10:07 PM
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Re: Terrible Volunteer Experience

From what I was told by one of the people I reported her to, the had apparently received lots of complaints. That is bad because

A) that means she encountered lots of people.
B) Because nothing was done to try and fix the situation (But I guess that was the theme this year).
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Unread 04-30-2012, 10:11 PM
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Re: Terrible Volunteer Experience

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Originally Posted by animenerdjohn View Post
B) Because nothing was done to try and fix the situation (But I guess that was the theme this year).
Do you really think this is necessary?


Anyway, sorry you had this bad run in especially if you were as polite as reported and she was really yelling at you. Pack your safety glasses
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Unread 04-30-2012, 10:28 PM
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Re: Terrible Volunteer Experience

I love that you are a metor that also helps the future be bright. In this situation I would see a point that FIRST should buy saftly glasses to lend. I think if many teams and students should send emails and call their regional director and FIRST staff to make them aware of this situation.
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Unread 04-30-2012, 10:32 PM
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Re: Terrible Volunteer Experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by JV2073 View Post
I love that you are a metor that also helps the future be bright. In this situation I would see a point that FIRST should buy saftly glasses to lend. I think if many teams and students should send emails and call their regional director and FIRST staff to make them aware of this situation.
FIRST does have safety glasses to lend...there were boxes of them...I believe they are for "visitors" - but when you have several boxes of them I don't see why an adult cannot sign out a pair for the day. I would've gladly traded in my license for a pair. Compromise is fine - unwillingness to isn't.
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Unread 04-30-2012, 10:38 PM
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Re: Terrible Volunteer Experience

Wow. I must consider myself lucky at this point, as most of my experiences with FIRST volunteers have been very pleasant, and none of them hostile anywhere near this extent.


I do have to say on the other hand, atleast it wasn't a FTA or Robot Inspector you had to deal with.
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Unread 04-30-2012, 10:39 PM
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Re: Terrible Volunteer Experience

No one should yell or insult anyone either a volunteer to attendee or attendee to a volunteer. The point of not dispensing the glasses was to prevent running out which would prevent others from accessing the Pits. Perhaps the leaders at St Louis could post reminders that safety glasses are mandatory prior to the event or perhaps a team could set up either safety glass sales and/or rentals at the door: can you say fundraiser!!!!!!!
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Unread 04-30-2012, 10:45 PM
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Re: Terrible Volunteer Experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by animenerdjohn View Post
B) Because nothing was done to try and fix the situation (But I guess that was the theme this year).
Is that really necessary?!

Check your reputation dots- I put an email address you can contact to address those volunteer concerns. I hope it helps.

As a volunteer coordinator for a regional, I know I wouldn't want any of those attitudes representing my event. It's entirely possible your message was never passed up to the proper authority.
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Unread 04-30-2012, 10:46 PM
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Re: Terrible Volunteer Experience

At every regional I've ever been to (so far 2 different ones, so not a wide variety), the safety glasses people do three things:

1) Hand out safety glasses to anyone who needs them (they shove them in your face)

2) Enforce safety like they were getting paid for it (and they were volunteers)

3) Give people (teams and visitors) safety advice and dafety memorabilia given by a local team.


Never once have I found an unpleasant safety glasses distributor , so this is a shock. I don't know where FIRST gets their volunteers for championships, but it seems like they may need to do a bit more screening than normal (maybe have FIRST alum do the jobs that involve human-interaction. If anyone we know more about what's going on). Our CA regional-level safety glasses distributors are great people, and the people at champs should be 10 times that.

I'm sorry that you had to go through that. While champs can be stressful, I see nothing stress-inducing about handing out safety glasses.

Of course we don't know the whole story (maybe she found out her team lost a match), so we can't make accusations that this person isn't fit to volunteer. I do think, however, that FIRST should be more careful as to who they have volunteering where.

Just my opinions.
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Unread 04-30-2012, 10:48 PM
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Re: Terrible Volunteer Experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by Libby K View Post
Is that really necessary?!

Check your reputation dots- I put an email address you can contact to address those volunteer concerns. I hope it helps.

As a volunteer coordinator for a regional, I know I wouldn't want any of those attitudes representing my event. It's entirely possible your message was never passed up to the proper authority.
(We had a bad experience with the FTA so I'm still a little bitter about that, sorry)

I appreciate it. The man who told me they had received several complaints seemed to have some sort of authority but maybe not.
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Unread 04-30-2012, 10:50 PM
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Re: Terrible Volunteer Experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher149 View Post
Wow, you really got chewed out. I empathize with you as a college mentor, as there have been instances of the "not a real mentor" mentality, though not like this.

There have been some volunteers with whom there has been friction (mostly queuing staff) but never to the level of profanity.
The only questions I got where about my age. (I was the main contact for my team at the time) and she wasn't sure I was a mentor, but I finally had to show her my ID. Then she laughed about it. I guess glad that I was helping.
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