Years ago I went to my son’s junior high football game only to find out that they had no parent volunteers to hold the 3 first-down markers on the sidelines, so my husband Russ signed us up. I tried to tell him I had no idea what I was doing, but he had to find out the hard way! Sure enough, the first play the quarterback throws the football right at my head and I see both teams running for me! I’m just feet from the playing field so of course on instinct, I turned with the 8 foot, giant orange marker and ran…forgetting that the marker I had was linked by a chain to Russ’s marker and some other poor parent volunteer….so I proceeded to pull them along with me! I’m sure we looked absolutely ridiculous, thanks to me. When we stopped running, Russ said, “Um, you might want to just drop the marker next time so you don’t drag the chain gang with you.” I said, “Oh yeah, that makes more sense. Sorry about that you guys! My bad.” So, we get set back up for the next play, and after the play Russ started running away from me to move the down markers and I didn’t realize it, so the chain he was pulling yanked the bottom of my tall marker, which swung the top part of the marker at my head and barely missed the end of my nose while jerking my arm at the same time. I said as I was being pulled by the marker, “First of all, ouch! Second of all, we have to RUN after every play? I didn’t realize I had to be on high alert…I thought we just walked around with these things!” Before he could answer it was time for the next play, and after the play I could see Russ bolting towards me out of the corner of my eye as he yelled, “RUN!” So I just took off running and yelled back, “Run where?” Again, looking absolutely ridiculous. I could hear Russ shout, “Just run to where the ref tells you to!” When I looked onto the field where the angry striped guy with a trigger temper was pointing from the middle of the field to the sidelines in a very annoyed manner, I ran to where I thought he wanted me to put the stick down and plopped it down. When I noticed the ref shook his head “no” while pointing, I moved it an inch to where it looked like he wanted it. Another no. Another inch, another no. So I muttered how about you run over to the sidelines and point with your toe EXACTLY to where this big orange thing goes? I’m not getting paid for this, I had no briefing, no training, no memo, nothing! Isn’t there anyone more qualified than me that can help? After setting it in the exact spot, the next play was a 15-yard penalty. I can’t do mental math under duress. I’m thinking ok, I’m on the 47 1/3 yard line…am I subtracting 15? Adding? Doesn’t it depend on which team the penalty is against? Does anyone have a calculator? This is such a bad idea to put me out here. I’m going to have a delay of game penalty called on me. Then it started to rain. Perfect. Plus it was so distracting standing in front of the opposing team’s bench and coach on the sideline and the field. I kept saying, “Russ! Did you hear how mean that coach was to his players?” He’d reply, “RUN!” because he was paying attention and I apparently was not. I tried to cheer on my son but I had to run and yell at the same time so I’m not certain he heard me at all. Actually now that I think about it, he probably heard me and just chose to ignore me, pretending I’m not his mom. Can’t imagine why. Finally at halftime I told Russ I’m just going to run home and get some sweats and running sneakers. After staring at me a while in disbelief he said, “You can’t abandon your post in the middle of the game! There’s no leaving in football! There’s no way you have time! You’re doing fine.” We all know that’s a lie…I’m an epic fail. After realizing I’d have to run from the opposite side of the field through an entire parking lot to just get to the car, I realized he was right...I’m not going to make it in time. Plus it would’ve been too tempting to come back and hide in the stands somewhere and just watch the game like the other parents. When the game finally ended, as a thank you I received no hazard pay, no participation trophy, just a cup of free soda from the concession stand lol! It was kind of fun to be so close to the action, and I appreciate nobody yelled at me to do a better job. Volunteering at the concession stand isn’t much better because that’s mental math under duress as well. A lot less running though, so that’s a plus. So to all the volunteers out there who feel like they aren’t much of a contribution in the overall grand scheme of things, I feel your pain! Thank you for your service anyways!