more on the three-day

all right, time for another novella on my thoughts on the three-day!

so last time i concluded with a little bit about my experience as a sort of avon lady. (i will now digress with a little more about avon. since i got back, i’ve done a little research on avon, and i must say i’m pretty impressed with their history. not only are they one of only five fortune 500 companies with a female ceo, but that ceo is also asian! is that not fantastic? her name is andrea jung. the avon website is pretty interesting. there’s one just for products here, and one all about their breast cancer crusade too.)

anyway, after lunch on day one, i was puttering around without much to do when ruthann (or maybe it was connie) asked me to help another crew captain (signage crew, who, not surprisingly, puts up all the signs for camp and i think for the walkers) carry a box of lunches and gatorade to her crew. maybe it was because it was the first day, maybe it was because she got lost in camp and we took a long route and i was carry a heavy case of gatorade, maybe it was just because everyone is so nice at the three-day, but when we walked into the area where her crew was sitting in a circle on the ground, she said, ‘hi everyone! i’ve brought your lunches! and this nice lady helped me carry them!’ all these smiling faces turned my way and chorused, ‘thank you!’ i was embarrassed and overwhelmed. sure the box was heavy, but i didn’t really do anything! and i have never heard myself referred to as a ‘nice lady’ before. i didn’t think i was old enough to be one. i actually looked around to see if she could be referring to someone else. so i sort of mumbled something about hoping everyone would enjoy their lunches, and then i left. i hope i didn’t seem too rude! i’ve just never gotten so many thanks before for something so small, and i was just so startled at being called a ‘nice lady.’

the part about being thanked profusely for something small is typical of the whole three-day. i think there’s something about being removed from your comfort zone and placed into a totally different environment with totally different people that just makes you much more grateful for little things. hot showers are amazing because when you’re sleeping in tents it’s awesome to have showers at all. hot food is so welcome because you’ve been on your feet all day long serving others that it’s delightful to have someone serve you. and when you’ve been walking all day and you’ve realized you forgot to bring any deodorant for the next day, i guess a smiling face like mine, assuring you that you could help yourself to free avon deodorant, was pretty nice to see too.

before i talk about setting up tents, i want to describe my fellow concierge crew members a little. some of them i didn’t interact with enough to be able to describe them at any length, and others i worked with but didn’t get their names, so i’ll just tell you about a few of the people i worked with most. first of all, my fellow avon product distributors were definitely the people i hung out with most. mostly that was the two women i set up the table with, michelle and linda, who are both pretty young (twenties). they were a lot of fun and we made a lot of jokes while we worked. i think i identified with michelle more, probably because she’s closer to my age and interests (she’s got her bachelor’s but she is still going to school, and linda’s already married), but i enjoyed the time i spent with both. i remember linda being very amused by one of the shower guys, because he was very young and looked like a california skater guy but he turned out to be from texas and had a drawl and addressed her as ‘maaaaa’am’ even though they were probably around the same age. and michelle and i always laughed about the sinks (which were on the sides of the shower trucks) because they had big signs above them requesting that we ‘please do not do laundry in sinks.’ ‘darn,’ michelle would say, ‘and i brought fabric softener, too!’ ‘i know,’ i would say, ‘and i brought all my laundry to do while i was here!’ very odd. this popped up again on day two because some woman (a walker) came to the concierge tent, wanting to know whether we could fedex a package for her. obviously, we can’t be fedexing packages for three thousand walkers! ruthann asked her what was so urgent that she needed it fedexed… it turned out to be her dirty laundry. doesn’t that just sound like one of those ‘strange but true’ stories? when we heard this one michelle and i laughed again… ‘it’s because they won’t let you do your laundry in the showers!’

some other people who helped us with distributing the products were annie and nona. annie is amazing. she took over for me several times at the product table when i’d been there for a while, and she always just seemed to be there when i needed a break. in general, annie was always wherever an extra hand was needed, helping out instead of eating her lunch – ‘oh, i’ll eat it later. you eat. i’ll just finish this up.’ she was a walker last year, so she also gave us a lot of insights about what it’s like to walk the three-day. i really enjoyed her company and totally appreciated all the help she gave. she reminds me of mary in my french class — i think annie’s about five or ten years younger, but they’ve both got red hair and are slim and have that kind of sporty look and helpful air, and i’m fond of them both. nona was great, too. she was originally a walker, but when she got a pelvic fracture she had to get crutches and was no longer able to walk. spunky gal that she is, she decided not to just drop out of the event altogether, so she joined concierge, and i’m so glad she did! she looks like a meek little old lady but she’s really funny and energetic. i will always remember her helping me distribute products on day one when michelle and linda were taking a break. ‘here, have some of this lotion. it’s ‘soft and sensual’,’ she says in her slightly quavery little-old-lady voice. it cracked me up to hear her telling people that. she also made lovely cookies (we were all asked to bake cookies to give out at the concierge tent. i really wanted to but didn’t have the time before i left; i don’t have enough equipment to bake that many cookies in my apartment and i had no time at all while i was at home. 😦 ruthann, bless her, baked i don’t know how many dozens of cookies, but she used twenty-four pounds of flour to do it!) — some really sweet, crunchy butterscotch things with cornflakes in them, and some little bars with chocolate frosting. i remember her telling me proudly that no one else would have cookies like these, and no one did. the butterscotch things especially were a huge hit; people kept coming back for seconds and then thirds. anyway, nona is a survivor (of breast cancer) as well as a great lady, and i miss her. in fact i really miss everyone on concierge. they were all such warm, thoughtful, nice people. they were my family for three days! it just does tremendous things to your heart to be surrounded for three long days with people who are so kind and so inspiring.

speaking of which, there were three other people who especially inspired me. bob and gloria are an elderly couple who have been married for almost fifty years and who have not just grandkids but great-grandkids! plural! their daughter is a survivor and walked last year and this year, so they were crewing to support her — and because they wanted to. i sincerely hope i can be like them when i’m their age. they look like typical ‘old people’ but they’ve traveled to thirty-eight countries and gloria was sitting on the grass doing yoga one morning! i remember gloria was always so willing to help. she’s very small and wears support stockings and walks with a cane, but anytime something needed to be done she would always be there. ‘gloria,’ connie would say, ‘get out of here! you can’t lift that!’ and gloria would be staggering around with a huge box, protesting that no, no, she could carry it. then someone would rush to her assistance. but she was always there before anyone else, ready to do whatever was needed, and i just thought that was really amazing. on day three, when we took our group pictures, we were all lined up in three neat rows, and then gloria came running over (well, as much as one can run with a cane and support stockings), threw her cane on the ground, and plopped down on the grass in front of the first row in that sort of glamour pose, lying with one arm in front of her and the other propped up on her hip. it was priceless — i can’t wait for the pictures to come out 🙂
another wonderful person was donna. she’s a survivor, but you would never guess that breast cancer is a problem at all the way she acts. she is incredibly funny, always making jokes and smiling and laughing, and the only time i heard her mention her cancer, she was saying, ‘this wind makes me wish i had no hair again! then it wouldn’t be blowing all over the place!’ on the last day, when we cheered all the walkers into their final stretch, many of the walkers came up to her and hugged her (she was wearing her ‘survivor’ shirt) or touched her hand, or other kind gestures, and she just kept weeping at all the kindness. more on day three later. there is a lot i can say about the kindness circulating that day.

i’m leaving the library now so i’ll talk more later.

[note, 4/10/14: Imported from my old blog at]