I want you to imagine for a moment that you meet a person. A unique sort of individual who oozed passion, commitment, and hospitality.
A person that genuinely took an interest in you, despite the fact that the lifespan of your entire relationship was to be no longer than the time it took to drive you from downtown to the airport. Or in the time it took to provide you with directions to the VIP event you were attending. Or in the time it took to share a story about yesterday’s rodeo.
Imagine a person who takes eight, ten twelve, fourteen days off from their real job to provide these services to you on an unpaid basis. Imagine a person who has done this for fifteen, twenty, thirty years in a row.
Imagine this person describing how excited he was to be back as a volunteer driver, after having spent the last three years as the chairperson of the committee. That while he was honoured to have led the team of one-hundred guys who manned the courtesy cars every day, it was talking to visitors, voyageurs, and VIP’s that gave him the most satisfaction. Imagine the same person telling you how much of a family the group of drivers really are. Men from all socio-economic walks of life, unified in their purpose of welcoming the world to the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
Now think about this person standing in the pelting rain, patiently holding down a tarp in the midst of a thunderstorm that even the old-timers are shocked and awed by. While the wind whips, their eyes closed and the rain soaks deep into their bones, you may not realize how happy they are. Because truth be told, it hasn’t been all that exciting as a first-time volunteer. Don’t misinterpret their thoughts They are glad they did it. It’s just that when you grew up riding in a family where the four legged beauties were truly part of the clan, it’s almost impossible to resist the urge to help clean, feed, or exercise the beauties. Still, it’s a thrill to see them cheered on daily by thousands and thousands of live spectators.
It may be impossible for you to imagine a satisfying job where you report to a committee. It may be impossible for you not to make committee jokes, like the one where a committee tried to design a horse, but instead, invented the camel. But when your committee intrinsically understands the mission of your team and the vision you are pursuing, when your committee does more than just committee-talk, committee-meet and committee-trip, then you can actually accomplish what you are being paid to do.
Imagine for a moment you are standing in your hotel lobby, face pressed deep into your smartphone. A cheery voice asks if you need directions and without pausing is this your first Calgary Stampede. The answer to the first part of her question is trigger quick and absent of emotion. The second requires restraint because nobody, lest a welcoming volunteer, needs to hear my twenty plus years of Cowtown mythology. The grateful volunteer is none too happy to answer your inquiry regarding why she volunteers. She’s been doing it for years and every winter she gets that feeling. Apparently it comes around Christmas time. As soon as the holidays are over, she finds herself anxious and excited. She can’t wait for July. It’s Stampede time.
For this woman and thousands of her friends, nothing in the world can beat being a Calgary Stampede volunteer.
Author’s Note – This blog entry is a fictional interpretation by me of real people I encountered at the 2017 Calgary Stampede