Oh. Wrong Bruce.
It's the dawn of a new era for the Seeley Lake Nordic Ski Club. Last spring I made up my mind that 12+ years of masquerading as club president was more than adequate. I say "masquerading" because the way we've become accustomed to doing things here in Seeley is slightly out of the norm for most organizations.
aBest I can remember, it was 2010 and I received an email from Lynn informing me that he had been club president long enough and it was my turn. If I agreed to be president he promised that he would tell me what I needed to do and Karen Pratt would do all the work. That is pretty much a direct quote. And it was pretty much bullshit. I proved once again that I am a born sucker and stupidly went along with him.
So, I'm suddenly club president, no election, no board meeting, no nothing. Tag, you're it. A good analogy would be the way a third world country operates. The buddy system. Next thing I know, I'm buried to my neck in the federal bureaucracy and pulling my hair out trying to decipher how to get the club registered to be eligible to receive largesse in the form of grants from the federal government. Register with Dunn and Bradstreet, get a cage code, a unique ID number, proof of this, proof of that, the usual bureaucratic BS. Lynn flat-out lied. I should've known i was gonna get hosed, but, like I said, I was a sucker.
But generally, for the most part, being president hasn't been too bad, especially early on. The first rule (which Lynn and I decided on) was the fewer meetings, the better. We'd usually have a meeting in the fall just prior to ski season with whoever was interested, and occasionally grudgingly have one in the spring. If an important decision needed to be made I'd get an email from Lynn asking my opinion, I'd say fine, whatever you think, and we'd roll with it. Or he would contact Dave Spence, who was treasurer at the time, and ask him about making a big expenditure, Dave would tell him yeah, we have the money, and I'd never know a thing about it. I'd literally walk into the grooming shed and there would be a brand new, shiny SkiDoo sitting there. Board meetings? Board meetings were for losers and people with nothing better to do.
In any event, in 2022 I had a couple of major eye-opening events, one of which was wrecking my bike and seeing my whole summer flushed down the toilet and the other was my wife having an epic battle with cancer (which she survived with flying colors). I came to the realization that it was time to jettison anything that I wasn't 100% enthusiastic about, and even though I love the ski club, being president was now low on my list of priorities. It was time to bail.
I told Lynn my decision, he said fine, and at our spring meeting I abruptly announced to the club my resignation. Additionally, I suggested that it was time for Bruce Rieman to be president. Now this totally pissed Bruce off as evidenced by the daggers his eyes were flinging across the room in my direction. He'd been blindsided and was none too pleased.
Actual photo of a blindsided Bruce at the moment of my resignation.
As soon as the meeting was over, I got the hell out of there, because, coward that I am, I didn't want to have the hard conversation with Bruce that I knew needed to happen. But, being more or less mature, responsible adults, we discussed it later and worked it out, though he still wasn't interested in being president.
Imagine my surprise when a couple of months later I get a phone call from Bruce informing me that he'd been kicking it around and decided that he'd be willing to serve as president for a couple of years.
Bruce and his wife, Karen, have been hard-core club members for years now. Bruce is a stickler for detail, sweats the small stuff, is too intelligent for his own good, and when he grooms you know it will be immaculate. All of these traits, and more, convinced me that he would make an exceptional president. The reality, though, is that even with this awareness I haven't been prepared for how seriously he takes the job.
We now have committees. These committees have meetings. We have a board. The board has meetings. Nothing happens without board approval. We have a budget. A budget for God's sake! Before we either had the money or we didn't. And the club by-laws are constantly being quoted. We have by-laws? Who knew? What the hell is going on around here?
There is no question that there is a new sheriff in town.
Bruce asked me a few weeks ago if I would be willing to serve as an ad hoc board member. I agreed but then learned that I wouldn't just automatically get to be a board member. No, first the board has to vote on it. Well, of course they do. What was I thinking?
I was telling my daughter, who is active in some community efforts in the Flathead, about this recent new direction of the ski club.
"And we even have BOARD MEETINGS!"
"We've never had board meetings."
A look of disbelief. "Jeez, Dad, how did you ever get anything done?"
"Well, I don't know. It's Seeley Lake. We got stuff done. Come on, we're just a bunch of rednecks that like to ski."
"Wow. Nice, Dad. Very impressive."
An unforeseen consequence of my resignation is that Lynn followed my example and resigned as vice president. The old cabal has been absolutely shattered and a completely new regime has taken charge. We now worship at the altar of process, follow the rules and pay attention to detail. It boggles the mind.
Like it or not, Bruce is dragging the Seeley Lake Nordic Ski Club out of the dark ages and into the 21st century. And really, as long as the skiing is good, that is fine by me.