Friday Wrap #20 – Saturday Night Fever

Life gets busy… I was busy… completely missed my multiple reminders on my phone to write the Wrap yesterday. So now I am writing on a Saturday night.

Maybe the delay was needed because I don’t think I would have had much of an interesting thing to write last night, but I do today.

Today I started wondering if I attract problems. It’s not that I enjoy fixing things, but I seem to seek out or attract problems that need fixing. Buy a house that was poorly built, then spend 18 years fixing, and sometimes re-fixing your fix to the issue. Join a group and then notice every problem wrong and take it on yourself to fix those problems.

I don’t do this on purpose. It’s not like I go in and say, “okay what’s broken” but if there is something not working right I try to help mend it.

Case in point, I belong to a railroad group. The group is loosely-based, has a successful magazine, and a real ad hoc organizational structure. All except the magazine bothers me. It’s too chaotic. When I joined, I wanted to be an active member, contributed articles to the editor, and took on the website. Then I became the membership chair. That position was a mess, so I added order to chaos (okay Borg) and went to online membership forms, revamped how it was mailed, etc. I also stopped a practice of sending a magazine from the new membership year to subscribers whose membership had expired. This was done as a reminder to get people to pay their dues. I stopped it because it did not make sense to me to send a magazine that there was a chance it would never get paid. Membership dropped 33 per cent during my five years as membership chair. I don’t think that was the only factor – Train people tend to be older people and natural attrition as well as changing interests had to with it.

I already wanted out of the role, but felt an obligation to the group to stay on. If not me, who would do it? What pushed me to resign and just be “a member” was an online comment said in the aftermath of the 2016 US presidential election. Did I mention the group was primarily based in the US? After the comment was posted – which was directed at me and my Canadian nationality (with a smattering of American nut-tugging bravado added) – I talked to the treasurer, said I quit, and handed off the records to another person. Being “just a member” is freeing.

During that time, I was a hat collector. Volunteer here, volunteer there. I had three employment hats as well. I think my total hat count was eight. I currently have two hats. Many of the hats I wore I have walked away from. I left a startup I was involved with, my term on an editorial board expired and I did not seek an extension, and recently I stepped away from the parent council I was on (okay, I haven’t formally done so but there are no more meetings this year, and I am not joining next year so it counts!)

I am re-evaluating my last volunteer commitment, and some weeks I am ready to toss the keys in, others I am not. So far this year, I still have more positive days and weeks than negative. But I’ve noticed the negative ones are creeping up more often. A cautionary tale I guess for people who want me to stay.

Three things:

  1. Something to read – I love books, and book stores, and publishing. So it’s interesting to see all the goings on at Canada’s monopoly bookseller which focuses on housewares and clothing than books – Indigo. Kenneth Whyte’s latest dispatch from Sutherland House publishers on Indigo is quite interesting.
    SHuSH, by Kenneth Whyte – After Heather, the deluge
  2. Something to watch – I love Jon Stewart’s show on Apple TV. The best thing Stewart does is take a person’s words or their beliefs and turn those back on them. Like this:
  3. Something to listen to – I’m not a super U2 fan, I like the hits, went to a concert once, and still haven’t found what I’m looking for. For Irish groups, I always preferred the Cranberries to U2. But… while looking at new music things that happened on the NPR Tiny Desk Concert series, I found this from Bono and The Edge…

    Very cool.

Final thought – If deciding to be an oak tree or a reed, it’s better to be the reed. I feel like an Oak. This is from Aesop’s Fables – Look it up, I did.