Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Trying to Be Communal

Jessica joined me on the bench yesterday as I sat doing door-duty at my children's Hebrew school. I am a half-hearted Hebrew school parent at best, which is why I volunteered for the easy duty, to assuage some of my Jewish guilt.

Jessica, likewise, was stuck, waiting, so we began to chat as friendly people are wont to do. Before too long, as can happen easily in Park Slope, the conversation turned to the Park Slope Food Co-Op and whether or not I was a member...I am, somewhat abashedly, somewhat ashamedly, not.

"I just can't handle another responsibility, another organization that needs something from me that I probably won't be able to give, especially when it comes to my groceries," I explained.

Jessica, like so many others before her, like those who have tried to get me to join The Landmark Group, tried hard to convince me.

"It's only 2 1/2 hours a month..." she said, "and it's a guaranteed 20% mark-up over cost, where other stores are like 100%."

She made a good case, I'll give her that, especially as my convenient just-across-the-street shopping at 150% mark-up Union Market is putting me in serious debt.

I am tempted but I know myself too well. If I get involved, if I just walk in the door to try out the low-cost fruits and veggies on offer, I'd be tempted to put in more time, to get more involved than necessary. I'd think so much about what I could do for the co-op but don't necessarily want to that I'd probably fail to even meet the required time. Worry, worry would be all I would give my fellow cooperators. And that's not fair.

Jessica, a clearly sensitive woman, a sign-language interpreter and dancer, looked at me with big, understanding eyes.

"There are so many communities to be part of, it's true," she said.

"Exactly," I said, as the other Hebrew school parents, none of whom I know, walked in to claim their kids. "And it's so easy to become Jack the Joiner, part of many communities but really part of none."

I gave a gold star to Jessica  for trying herself to be part of many communities and for understanding that I, in my own way, am trying too.

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