Ælflæd of Duckford
"Teaching Others to do Likewise"In various forms, the oath that peers took in Atenveldt in the days I was made a Mistress of the Pelican said that we would instruct or assist or encourage others to do as we had been rewarded for doing. Teaching has never been a problem for me. What has been a problem is the idea of taking one special student (an apprentice or a protégé) and telling them more or better than I was telling anyone else. It seems more sensible for me, in the skills for which people receive pelicans, to teach everyone at once.
What is "the skill for which people receive pelicans"? I owe the answer to this to Mistress Demelza Fellinoir of Caer Galen (Boulder CO) who was the first pelican made in the Kingdom of the Outlands. For years we had (unsatisfactorily) stabbed at a definition, and Demelza helped us to define it as knowing what needs to be done and being able to do it efficiently.
Relative ServiceI've heard people say that if you can fight you'll be a knight, if you can't fight you might be a laurel, if you can't fight and you're not artistic you can be a pelican. At the time I didn't know any better than to think they might be right. For a while in ancient Atenveldt history there were people made pelicans because they did a pretty good job as king and since they were used to seeing some really bad jobs, they considered being good royalty a remarkable service to the Society. (If the shoe fits, you should be ashamed.) That fit in with the quality vs. quantity debate, as well. Is working long enough eventually good enough? Carried to the other two circles, the question is ludicrous. Is losing 100 tournaments as good as winning five? Is making 100 bad costumes as good as a half dozen great ones? For pelicans, though, it was seriously considered.
Gentle ServiceYou may have known an autocrat who can create an event to be remembered, but the casualties are high. Sub-autocrats have their feelings destroyed, servers quit, newcomers who accidently see any of the exchange are scarred for life. There are officers who can look good to their superiors but who are callous to actual humans at events.
Then in my handwriting is "Give good examples."
Working in the Negative NumbersThink of service and works as on a continuum, like a number line. There's the zero mark and "works" go both directions. Vandalism can be hard work. Really screwing something up thoroughly can take hours of concentrated labor. We can't just consider the amount of work a person does, but the overall effect he has had. Someone who causes quite a bit of trouble would have to do lots of work just to get back to zero. It's kind of like balancing a checkbook. Some people just can't do it.
Clean-up CrewHow about the people whose service is ill service? If a child spills something disgusting on the floor, there are options. Screaming doesn't help. Leaving it there doesn't help. Waiting increases the chance that the kid will splash and roll around in it and then grab everything around and it'll be days before you wipe everything that got touched.
If someone in the SCA causes a problem, screaming is the first temptation, but it doesn't really help. You need to clean the problem up. Waiting increases the chance that the person will splash and roll around in the problem, and his friends will too, and they'll touch things and people around it and it'll be weeks before you wipe everything that got touched. Actually, you'll never clean up after it. Nature itself has to clean up some of these messes. If you see a problem brewing and you are able to neutralize it without making people more angry, that is the sort of service—the sort of clean-upcrew—the pelicans are looking for.
Smooth and Subtle ServiceThe best service should be inobtrusive. If the autocrat is really good, you don't need to be aware there was one. If an officer is really efficient you should know from the works, and not from having been told he's good. Is the newsletter good? Are arts activities scheduled, happening and reported on? Is there money when you need it, and do you know how to get to it? If there's a question or a problem do you need to call all around town, or will one call to the seneschal do? Strive to have people learn your name and seek you out because they're impressed with the job you're doing. If recognition is more important to you than the service itself, it makes you less worthy of recognition.
This is from a printout found while going through old papers. As I typed it (which I did before reading all of it) I thought maybe it had been a published article, but a search on my computer, webpage and internet didn't find it. Maybe it was in the Outlandish Herald once, I thought. Then I thought maybe ThinkWell. Having come to the phrase "This theme may recur throughout the book," I think it must have been intended for Bright Ideas..., or a later edition thereof. I pulled the phrase, but it was at the beginning of the "smooth and subtle service" section.
Because of the reference to Kingdom of the Outlands and where I found it in my papers, I'm guessing it's from around 1987, or as late as 1990. If anyone remembers seeing it before, let me know. Thanks.