Ssshhh… this column is being sent to you from a secret address known only to me and whoever sends out parcels for Wiggle. This is because I’m keeping my head down in what is without doubt the most dangerous time of year for all triathletes. Yes, it’s club AGM time!
Now, before we get off on the wrong cleat and I start a Black Friday-style punch-up in the comments below from outraged committee types, let me pay homage to all those committed people who freely volunteer their time to ensure triathlon clubs thrive.
Without those volunteers organising the rest of us, the sport would fall apart faster than Ben Haenow’s career. No, I have nothing but admiration for triathlon’s dedicated organisers – it’s just that I am not one of them. And I know this because I once ended up on a committee because I once made the mistake of going to an AGM.
At the best of times, AGMs aren’t a lot of fun and I suspect a fair few attendees, like me, go along out of a sense of duty that extends just far enough to ‘show support’, but not far enough that we actually want to do anything, and certainly not so far that we want to get elected to anything.
Most AGMs I’ve been to have been conducted in an atmosphere so leaden you couldn’t cut it with a cricket stump. The absolute low-point is that sinking feeling you get when the chairman asks if anyone has anything to say about last year’s minutes and someone raises their hand…
Given my aversion to responsibility of any kind, it’s astounding that I ended up on my tri club’s committee, and even more amazing that I ended up as secretary. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I live a haphazard, last-minute (otherwise known as ‘can’t-be-arsed-to-think-about-it’) sort of existence, so asking me to be the keeper of minutes and actions suggested the club members must have been drinking molten lead. Despite having absolutely no aptitude for the role, I remained marooned in it for four bloody years because no one else fell into the trap I did and put their hand up during an uncomfortable silence at an AGM.
This is a well-known tactic for ensnaring unwary club members on to committees and I’m sure it’s how most people end up getting elected. I don’t know why we find silence so unbearable that we are prepared to tolerate a year of feeling hassled and vaguely resentful rather than endure a few seconds of discomfort. But the awkward quiet that follows the “So who wants to be club welfare officer?” question is too much for some to take, and up goes the hand to an audible sigh of relief from the rest of the room (and everybody privately thinks, ‘Ha, you sap!’).
All I remember from my own election was that one minute I felt as uncomfortable as the time I put menthol chamois cream on my tri shorts and I thought my bum was going to burst into song, and the next minute I was sat at the front, taking notes with a facial expression like Cro-Magnon man fashioning rudimentary tools. The one and only benefit of being on the committee was that for months afterwards I was able to parade my selflessness on club bike rides by telling everyone about it in a fake ‘what a nightmare!’ kind of way.
So for those of you already on the hook to attend your club’s AGM, here is my advice to avoid ending up with a ‘role’:
■ Take up smoking and nip out for a fag at committee election time.
■ Stay off social media. There is no better way to guarantee you’ll end up on a committee than to slate the existing one on Facebook and then end up getting nominated by people who support you.
■ Try the ‘I’m too important’ gambit. My own fame is so pitiful I don’t even get asked to turn the Christmas lights on in my own house. However, you might occupy a high-flying position of corporate power with little time to consider earthly matters. If so, use it.
■ Leave the AGM early, saying you have to ‘be somewhere’. Keep it vague. Try claiming you have to get to bed because the shop whose doorway you sleep in closes at 9pm and you have to get there before any fellow outdoor lager enthusiasts. No one will challenge that one.
■ Make frequent visits to the toilet. I use this tactic during the festive period to avoid talking to my in-laws. I also use marathon sessions of washing up and constantly taking the dog out, but neither of these are practical for AGMs.
■ Lurk at the back, smoking hydroponically-grown sedatives.
It remains for me to wish the best of luck to my fellow responsibility-avoiders. Triathlon is a great sport and we all love it, but I am always careful to apply ‘Sausage Theory’ to it, which dictates that if you really like something, it’s best not to look too hard at what goes into it.
Have you been pressed into service on your club’s committee? Let us know in the comments!