Becky (beckyzoole) wrote,
Becky
beckyzoole

Say, how'd that Mensa thing go?

Back in February, I wrote about the Mensa Regional Gathering I was putting together. The RG was a lot of hard work, but in the end it was a lot of fun. I would do it again, especially since now I know what to do!

I wrote then about the difficulties I was running into with managing volunteers. I was able to smooth over most of the problems. But one volunteer would not be mollified. This was the Program Chair, B.

I was warned not to involve B., that she would try to sabotage whatever she worked on. But I needed the help. B. has a lot of experience and she's a good hard worker. So I overlooked her rocky history of drama and politics. I figured I could suck up to her for a good cause. Alas, I did not suck enough.

Two weeks before the RG, she threw a hissy fit and quit. She did have a good and valid criticism: I had stepped back and let her do her job without interference until then, but when I realized at the last minute that I didn't like what she was doing I started to micromanage. I've had managers who have done that, and it's a frustrating position to be in. But now I understand that it's frustrating for the managers, too. I trusted her abilities, and I was disappointed.

What I should have done was to push her harder for progress reports all along the way, and let her know immediately and diplomatically whenever I thought she was heading the wrong way. Instead, I found out just two weeks before the RG that she had gotten only a minimal slate of programs, had not planned to have a game room, and had been passing out incorrect information. (Like telling a presenter that if he wanted to bring along an assistant for a one-hour presentation, that assistant would have to pay full registration for the weekend. I went postal about that. We are NOT going to CHARGE someone $80 to do us a FAVOR.)

I stepped in and told B. to beef up the programs. I reminded her that I would need blurbs for the program book immediately, since I had to put it together that weekend. I made several programming suggestions, which she mostly ignored. When I asked her why she refused to contact lefthand, who had committed months earlier to doing a game presentation, she quit. And canceled half the programs.

She then refused to give me the blurbs and presenter bios she'd collected already, for the programs that were still on the schedule. Even though she quit two days after the program book deadline.

But, with a lot of hard work, adrenaline, and help from friends, I got a pretty good program together in three days flat. And managed to get the program books finished and printed at the last minute, too. All the other committee members worked overtime. We done good!

The nearest the weekend came to disaster was caused by one of the presenters that B. had lined up and had not canceled. I'm all for controversial presentations, but this was our keynote speaker, a Mensa member who had been on The Apprentice. I thought he was supposed to relate amusing anecdotes about his TV experience, then talk about his current internet business. He did do that for about five minutes. Then he launched into an evangelical altar call, urging a room full of Jews, Pagans, and intellectual agnostics to join him in his new apprenticeship to Jesus.

A few people walked out. Most stayed, rolling their eyes, and politely clapped a little when he finished. I personally apologized to each attendee later that evening. Four of the 60 people at his talk told me that they had been pleasantly surprised to hear someone who shared their faith; the rest thought it was inappropriate but were able to laugh it off. I wished that B. had gotten more information from him before lining him up, but... oh well. I figured she would have been as shocked as I was.

I got nothing but compliments from everyone who attended. I was particularly gratified to hear that so many people had enjoyed the speakers I'd rounded up.

Of course, that left poor B. sitting home all ignored. I hadn't begged her to come back and save the day. In fact, we'd pulled off a pretty good RG without her.

A week after the RG I posted a question to a national list of people who were active in planning Mensa parties and gatherings. I described our speaker's surprise change of subject, and said that I had been worried that he would go on for much longer than he did. I wondered if others had had similar problems, and if they would have interrupted the speaker at some point. (I was seriously considering it, when he mercifully stopped and sat down.)

B. started in on the list about how rude it was for people to walk out, and Christians were persecuted, and she was horrified that I would have censured his speech because of his religion.

Off list, she said that "people" had complained to her about how the speaker was treated. But she repeatedly refused to reproduce or forward any of those complaints to me. She copied the local board, said she was being harrassed, ignored all questions, and was quite the dramadary. After her husband jumped in with an email to bbwoof that began "Who the fuck are you?", the Local Secretary (president) stepped in and requested that all communication cease.

Then bbwoof got sick, and I pretty much forgot all about B. and her petty dramas.

And so that was it until a few days ago.
Tags: mensa
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