Monday, March 10, 2008

Is it worth it?

Hold onto your seats and your hats. I'm going to make two posts in one day. That hasn't happened in a very long time and might not happen again for a while. If you need to go to the bathroom, get something to drink or stretch your legs, do it now. This might take a while. Then again, it might not.

As I sent another ham club newsletter to the printer I thought about what I've done and how hard I've worked to maintain a position that gives me more grief than pleasure. When I was first approached about the newsletter I was congratulated for taking over. No one bothered to inform me that I had been chosen or that the entire ham community in Colorado Springs had already decided to hand the reins to me. I went to a board meeting to find out what exactly was going on and was asked my credentials, something I found very surprising since, to my knowledge, no one before me had had the professional writing and editing experience I have. I answered the questions and offered a copy of my resume. Then I was asked to pay the membership fee in order to take over the job, and I did.

Getting information from the outgoing editor proved difficult and it was only after the first of the year he sent me a garbled email with even more garbled instructions and said, "Here you go and good luck." I didn't know how much I would need the luck. Emails for help went unanswered as if they had floated off into the cybervoid and gotten lost. I soldiered on but was unable to get the January issue out. No one was available to answer my questions, but one person did offer to pick up the newsletter from the printer, except they had forgotten to tell me who the printer was or where they were located, not to mention in what form he wanted the newsletter sent to him, mailed to him or hand carried to him. I still didn't know where the printer was located a year later when the same helpful member told me I'd have to start picking it up myself. I found out in a hurry. The past two years have been just like that rocky beginning, except twice a month every month I send out an email to the membership asking for news, articles, notices, ads, columns or even just a joke that isn't copyrighted to no avail.

Every month I pull together the ragged ends of whatever I can find, rewrite the misspelled and grammatically horrific articles I blackmail members to get to put out a 12-page issue. Sometimes I have cut the issue to eight pages just to get by since there's nothing else I can do to fill the pages without spilling blood and abasing myself for a single paragraph of content. People have made comments on my monthly nag and beg sessions in email as if it's a big joke, and I signed on for this gig.

After the first month, I put together a newsletter for the second month only to be told I would have to audition before I would be allowed to take over as editor. I faced down the president with what I had learned. They had never had a professional writer or editor to do the newsletter and no one wanted the job until it was thrust on me. The previous editor begged for two years to get someone -- anyone -- to take over. And he was requiring me to audition. He backed down and I got the job. Last year when the new officers were elected and another board chosen, I was attacked once again by one of the brand new members who was taking over everything he could get his hands on. I defended myself with no input from the board although the attack was carried out in public through emails to the board. One lone board member said my attacker should remember we are on the same team. I offered to step down and the board got together and gave me a vote of confidence. Like I said, I signed on for this. Now I wonder why.

This afternoon I wrote the president and gave him my notice. He has until December 2008 to find someone else to take over as editor. I'm done fighting for something no one wants and most people complain or joke about. I have no doubt that the same two or three members who always publicly thank me will do so again, and probably offer to pay for my dinner at the annual Xmas dinner, just like last year. Or they will finally break into the dusty vaults of the bank and vote to give me a plaque to thank me for my hard work and service over the past three years. I don't want their thanks but if I were going to give a speech in thanks, this would be it.

I'm supposed to thank you all for recognizing my contribution over the past three years and tell you that I am reluctant to step down. I'm not. I look forward to no more deadlines, no more begging and hounding and no more newsletter to put out for people who don't care except to complain. The time for your thanks is past. The time for your thanks was during the past three years when I asked you to get involved, to send in articles, pictures, jokes and stories for the newsletter. That is the thanks for which I've waited the past three years.

In various forms I have explained what it means to be a volunteer and how your input is needed to keep the lights burning and the newsletter full of something other than dry meeting minutes and a short presidential message that never fills a full page. I have changed the format and made it more colorful, easier to read, more accessible. I have added content to the email and web versions to entice you to get involved, all to no avail. I have spent hours of my valuable time giving you for free what other associations and professionals have paid me to do, and I have done it without your help and input only from the same one or two people. I have answered your complaints and fixed whatever was wrong. I have gone through endless web sites and begged local amateur operators to tell me their stories and send in the pictures, and I have had some success, but not nearly as much as I would have had if you had cared enough to get involved. I have watched the board put together programs and events that few people attended, stretching their own personal resources and time to cover the jobs that no one would take, and the same people kept showing up all the time. I have watched as board members begged for someone to take over as chairman of the Megafest or just show up to set up, take down or even take tickets, but the only ones who answered are the same small group of people who always step up to take your place. I know they must be as tired as I am right now and just as frustrated. So, no, I am not sorry to step down. I am eager to let someone else find the right words or twist the right arms to make you all care enough to get involved in your own club. Were the past three years worth my time and effort and the fight I put up to keep the job? Right now, I don't think so.

Goodbye and good luck. You are going to need it.

I think that goes over pretty well. Don't you? At least it isn't screw you and the horse you rode in on.

That is all. Disperse.

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