John's Jottings

143. Join Up. Join Up - May 2018

Posted on April 30, 2018 at 6:45 AM

We were at the Plonkton show the other week. At the club stand there was a chap vigorously trying to attract new members. He collared one passer-by who had paused just momentarily in front of the stand.

“Are you a fellow railway modeller?” Mr Plonkton asked with great enthusiasm.

“Oh, yes,” was the reply, adding modestly, “I do a bit now and again.”

“Are you a member of a club?”

“No, I’m not.” I’ve been too busy building my own layout these last few years.”

“Is it complete?”

“Pretty well.”

“So what are you going to do as your next big project?”

“I haven’t decided. There might not be one for some time.”

“What about joining Plonkton Model Railway Society, then?”

“If I were to join, what club project had you in mind for me to get involved with?”

“Oh, no particular project.”

“So why should I join?”

“Well, you can tell your friends that you’re a member. Membership brings a certain cachet, you know. We’re recognised as one of the leading clubs in the country.”

“So you want to take my not insubstantial subscription to fund club projects, but then deny me the chance to contribute to the progress of those projects? That’s not joining a club. That’s merely becoming a supporter.” Mr Plonkton was taken aback by this analysis.

“I’ve no idea as to your interests, knowledge or skills,” Mr Plonkton told the erstwhile recruit. “You won’t be invited to join a construction or operating team until you have proved yourself. But you can visit our club rooms and use the library. And you receive the bi-monthly magazine. It’s very good, you know. Full of useful tips and information.”

Now the chap was an exhibitor at that very show. He was taking a few minutes off from presenting his own layout to have a quick look round. Mr Plonkton had not spotted his Exhibitor Badge dangling from his belt, so he had no idea of the fellow’s status at the event, let alone his name or layout.

“Isn’t my layout up to your exacting standards?” he asked. “Haven’t you seen my articles and photographs in the Journal of Elite Railway Modelling? They all carry my mug-shot.”

“I don’t read that magazine,” Plonkton informed him with considerable distain. “We’re not elitist, you know. Anybody can join. And I’ve never seen your layout.”

“Stand twenty-four,”

the fellow commented. “Come and have a look for yourself. Give me an honest assessment of its merits and shortcomings.”

He declined the recruiter’s invitation to join the Plonkton club. Mr Plonkton could not understand why, even when later the fellow’s layout was presented with the awards for both Best in Show and the Most Popular Layout.

“It all goes to show,” our chairman observed, “that recruiting new members is not a simple as might be imagined. For some potential members, just being associated with a club is quite enough. But for others, assured involvement and participation in club activities is the main attraction.” And we agreed with that.

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