By Christopher Cudworth
Which means that when it comes to a choice between sitting in a meeting for 3 hours on a Saturday morning or getting out to ride 50 miles, we’d choose the latter, not the former.
And when it comes to getting business done and finding time for a workout, we’d much rather have an agenda that lasts an hour and gets us home on time to sleep rather than staying up to midnight eating stale donuts and talking about Line Item #126.
I have not run for office. Lately. I was Class President at Kaneland High School in 1972. I don’t remember how I got elected. But I sucked at the job. My mind was on how to help our cross country team win conference and how to drop my mile time below 4:40. Choosing the class ring was about all I can remember doing.
My stint as President of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce was not what anyone would call smooth. Though I was an art major in college, I immediately recognized problems with the budgeting process for the organization when I came into office. For starters, there was no real budget. None of the events run by the Chamber had a reporting process, so I put that in place and it really pissed people off. For the first time in possibly 10 years they now had to project what they were going to spend and stick to it. Years had gone by where the Chamber ran in the red. When my year as Prez was done we finished in the black, produced all new marketing materials, increased membership and cut the board from 20 people down to 9, a more manageable and light-footed structure.
But people hated the headstrong approach. Batavia has always been a go-along to get-along kind of town. I came in as a marketing exec from a newspaper and was a suspected carpetbagger.
Yet the most telling moment of the tenure came on the night of my installation. The executive director at that time introduced herself to my wife in the restroom that evening. She said to her, “Oh, you’re Chris’s wife. Well, you’re not going to see much of your husband this year.”
“Then you don’t know my husband,” said my wife.
And she was right. All our Chamber meetings lasted an hour. People got things done. It may not have been so nice, but it was efficient.
Same thing goes for the church committee I ran to choose a new Praise Band Leader. We had an agenda each meeting. We stuck to it. Meetings ended in one hour. The Pastor Emeritus turned to me one night and said, “I wish you’d run all my church meetings over the years.”
There’s no reason to waste time you see. People who run and ride have a special appreciation and respect for time. They value it for perhaps selfish reasons at times. But they do value it.
Back in college as an RA the dorm meetings were held at 10:30 at night. I insisted that was ridiculous. My training required getting up at 6:00 a.m. to run two-a-day workouts. Jerk that I was, I got the meetings moved to 10:00. Secretly everyone was relieved. They told me so.
There is a certain sort of social justice that also comes from running and riding. The year after I served as Chamber of Commerce President I was elected President of Batavia Rotary. Our big fund raiser was a Corvette Raffle that raised $10,000. There was one problem. The Vette was purchased each year from the same dealer in town, a member of the club. I asked about that and found out that we could perhaps get a better price by bidding out the car to another dealer in the area. The member was none too happy. So I went to his office with another Rotarian to discuss the possible bid process. The angry car dealer chain-smoked while he harangued me for not understanding “how things work.”
And I got that. The Good Ole Boy System always works. But we bid the car and made $5000 more than year for charitable purposes. It helped that there were a few women new to the club who supported the effort to do more good for all rather than play favorites.
Am I alone in thinking that people who run and ride have a generally firm sense of social justice? That’s a big generalization to make, I know. It’s likely there are plenty of corrupt athletes among us. The worldwide scandal in cycling shows us that. It wasn’t just Lance Armstrong you know. The whole game was fixed.
So unfortunately we have to call ourselves to lead lives that are good. Running for office may be the way to do that, or it may not. There are thousands of ways to serve society and still satisfy our selfish need to run and ride and get our heads and conscience in order.
I think about these things on the way to the voting booth, you see. I wonder if people running for election understand the purity of running for other reasons.
It’s hard to tell.
But I don’t think I’ll be running for election too soon. Admittedly I value my time too much, and politics is all about taking the time to hear everyone out.
I’ll take the other road for now, and listen to those who respond to these posts.