Drama Around Oregon

I’m a member of several Meetup groups. These groups have been very helpful in my first few months here in that they’ve greatly facilitated the meeting of new people. I’ve gone on numerous hikes, some dinner outings, several coffee meetups, dancing, photography, book clubs… I’ve met some great people. But there has also been drama.

One group I’m in is based out of the college town 30 minutes south of where I live. It was initially set up as a summer outdoor activity group. Let me bore you with some history.

The group came to be in May. The organizer (whom I’ve never met) scheduled a few meetups to discuss what kinds of things the group ought to be doing. It seems like this founder only paid for a month’s worth of service to the Meetup.com website and then elected not to renew at the end of that month. At the beginning of July, one gentleman in the group, let’s call him Ecurb, was thinking about stepping up (and paying the subscription fee) to become the new organizer, but he decided to sleep on it. By the next morning, another member, Abby, had already paid the fee and become the group’s leader/organizer. Ecurb contacted Abby and let her know that he’d been considering the role and offered his help. Abby made Ecurb a co-organizer.

A couple of activities were planned for July and August, and I joined the group for a hike in September. This hike was only the fourth activity for the group since its reboot. Starting in October, the group got much more active, at least in terms of how often meetups were scheduled. Ecurb was doing most of the scheduling, but Abby had organized a bike ride for Oct. 9. I was attending all the meetups and Ecurb asked if I’d be interested in being a co-organizer too. Sure, I said. Make it happen. Abby didn’t make it to the bike ride she’d scheduled, but did alert us ahead of time.

By the end of October, it had been nearly two months since I’d seen or heard from Abby. I did hear that life had gotten pretty busy for her, and that’s fine. What I did want was a bit of discussion amongst the organizers as to what the group would be doing as we moved forward. Anyway, towards the end of October, Abby did schedule two or three more meetups so we knew she was alive.

*Side note #1*
Following a hike at the end of October, 8 of us went to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. They were apparently short-handed that day and the service reflected that. I am always very chill when in that kind of situation. First of all, I understand that for the most part, they are doing the best they can. Certainly my getting upset won’t help the situation. Second, if I feel that this is what I can typically expect from the place, I just won’t go there again. I realize not everyone reacts the same way. Ecurb in particular was quite vocal about his displeasure with the service. I was really uncomfortable with how he dealt with the situation. Despite the fact that we’d been going out to eat after every hike for the past two months, I decided that I would not be eating out with Ecurb again.

*Side note #2*
Ecurb is quite a bit more eco/hippy than me. Nothing wrong with that, just different. Whereas I react to the fact that the seasons are changing and the weather is likely to be MUCH more rainy for the next several months by looking to plan indoor activities for the group, Ecurb feels that getting drenched is just part of Oregon living and we should embrace it. He even responds to a discussion about what to do during the winter by scheduling a hike and calling it, “The question asks, ‘What should we do?’. I reply, ‘Enjoy planet Earth'” instead of “McDonald Forest Hike”. Not at all descriptive of the hike itself. But whatever, that’s just Ecurb being Ecurb. Not a huge deal.

*Back to our original story*
So a week ago, I get a message from Meetup that Abby has stepped down as organizer and someone else needs to pay for more subscription time or the group will be closed. (Ecurb did end up paying for more time and thus became the organizer.) I emailed Abby to ask what was up and she replied that she’d received a nasty-ish email from Ecurb chastising her for not living up to his idea of leadership. Her response was along the lines of, “If he wants to be in charge, fine, he can be in charge.” A day later she quit the group entirely. While I think that her rage quitting was an overreaction, I blame Ecurb for stirring up all this mess for no reason and for no gain. There was NOTHING that he or I couldn’t do as co-organizers that he can now do as the primary organizer. He’s emailed me a couple of times since this incident to criticize Abby and to explain some of his thoughts on leadership. But I’ll say it again, we’ve gained not a single thing as a result of stirring up this shiz, and not only have we lost Abby as a member, but one of her friends has departed as well. There may be more to come. Gaahhh! So idiotic to have initiated this drama. Well done, Ecurb.


*Some closing notes*

  • I haven’t really gone into this much detail about how I feel about the situation with Ecurb. You may ask why not. Well, two reasons. One, much like my attitude about poor customer service, I’m not one to inflict my opinions on others as to how I feel about their behavior. People can do whatever they want, and I can react however I want. My reaction is to distance myself from those people. Second, I haven’t seen Ecurb in person since this all ‘sploded.
  • It’s entirely possible that he will be reading this post. I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent and the guilty, but anyone halfway aware of the people involved will recognize the players with no difficulty.
  • I’m at least 50% tempted to drop this group myself. I don’t need the drama. But before I go that far, I’ll try some distance for a while. Who knows, my lack of 100% participation may motivate Ecurb to send me a nasty email complaining about my leadership.