Go look it up in your Webster’s. It’ll be a clean and neat definition you find and you can think of the times in your life when you were one. If you have never been a volunteer yet, steel yourself…
The interesting thing about the word is that it can be a verb or a noun. You either are or you do, and when you do, you are. The really interesting thing is when you start to attach other letters to it to make it perform different tasks:
a. Volunteering – the act of being a volunteer. Almost makes it sound like a movement. Most people have a movement every day…
b. Volunteerism – Oh, now we are definitely into the Party program. It’s gone from an idea to an ideal and on to an ism, and there will be leaders and followers and possibly a small badge as reward. If you get enough medals they’ll start pinning them to your trouser leg.
c. Volunteered. You can legitimately say that someone has volunteered if they have done it themselves. They may be worth 10 pressed men and are likely to do some pressing themselves if given the chance.
What you Cannot say is that someone has been volunteered. This indicates that they have been pressed by authority for the benefit of a third party. It is tantamount to selling someone on a block in New Orleans or kidnapping them from a ship at sea..
If someone tells you that they have volunteered you, remind them that other times people put their hands up is when they need to go to the can or when they are in the middle of a bank robbery. Then tell them to keep their cotton-pickin’ hands off you.