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 that are trying to either recruit volunteers or fundraise. 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, than 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 if I did volunteer I wouldn’t be receiving said emails). Sadly, that’s not the case and I’m 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 let’s 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.
And in the “I’m not kidding here department.” One time 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 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 they work full-time, do triathlons, is a lay pastor at their church, 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 that the fact 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 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 not to reply – get a life.
And while reading an email from the Scolder may seem unpleasant it’s nothing compared to 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 her life issues to exert sympathy into you not just volunteering, but taking over her carpool duties and coaching her son’s eight 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 handbasket and YOU are to blame. That’s followed by another line about how only a small percentage of parents care and volunteer and 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 that’s not in your crew.”
I know it’s not easy chairing an event or recruiting volunteers. Believe me I want and do help. All I ask is that your emails don’t make me consider homeschooling as my only method of escape from my not so friendly inbox.
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