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The Care & Feeding of Hash Volunteers

A friend sent me some hash trashes he wrote over the past couple of years. A trash, if you’ve never seen one, is a hash newsletter about past and upcoming events. My friend does a super job writing these trashes . . . they’re smart and funny and full of hashy news. If there weren’t already another HHH web site with a “Hash Trash of the Year Award,” I might be talked into doing something similar in the Half-Mind Catalog. If I did, my friend’s trash would be right in line for first place.

I’ve made this point before, but it’s worth repeating: Hashing wouldn’t exist without volunteers. No matter where you hash, no matter how simple or complicated the organization of your hash is, without volunteers willing to share their time and labor your hashing days would be over.

I don’t know how many hashes have a trash these days. The Okinawa HHH used to have a trash every week, and so, for a long time, did the Aloha HHH (I know; I used to write ‘em, and even won one of the aforementioned awards). The hash trash is a strong tradition in some groups, a once-in-a-while surprise in other groups, and unknown in still other groups. But wherever there is a trash, everyone loves it . . . so why isn’t there a trash at every hash?

Which brings us back to volunteers. Sure, you can still have a great hash without a scribe and a trash. You can muddle along without a beermeister, a hareraiser, a haberdasher, or an onsec. Why? Because as long as you have hares, you’ll have a hash. But when there’s no onsec or beermeister the hares have to work harder, and some hash groups have come pretty close to draining their pool of volunteers. A few have in fact drained theirs.

If you’ve been around hashing for a while, and if you’ve been the least bit involved with hash mismanagement, you’ve seen volunteers burn out and quit. “I’ve had it. Find someone else to write the goddamn trash/schlepp the beer/be the onsec/sell the haberdashery, etc.” I’ve seen this happen in every hash group I’ve run with. As I mentioned above, a few hash groups have actually disbanded because no one was willing to volunteer the time and effort it would have taken to keep the hash going.

Volunteers keep us hashing. So how can we nurture those volunteers and keep them happy? More important, how can we keep them from burning out and quitting?

People don’t like to seem small, so when they quit they’re not always honest about their reasons for quitting. But I’m blessed with acute powers of observation, and I know why they quit. They quit because they’re taken for granted. They quit because people don’t thank them for what they’re doing. It’s that simple. I know this because I’ve been a hash volunteer for years, holding virtually every office in mismanagement while simultaneously writing and publishing a world-wide HHH web site . . . I know what it feels like to bust your hump for the hash with no gratitude in return, and it feels bad. When you know you can always count on so-and-so to lay a good trail or loan his truck to the hash to haul the beer, it’s easy to forget to say thanks, and over time so-and-so is going to start feeling used and abused.

A little gratitude makes all the difference. I can’t fully express how great it feels when friends, and sometimes even total strangers, walk up and say “Hey, Flying Booger, I’ve been reading your web page for years and it’s been a lot of help to me. Thanks for doing all that work!” I’m here to tell you, one of those will keep a volunteer going for another year. If it comes from an attractive member of the opposite sex, make that two years!

Be nice to your volunteers. Let them know you appreciate their hard work. Thank them, and honor them at the circle once in a while. If your hash is lucky enough to have a harrier or harriette willing to write a hash trash, lay on a few strokes now and again. Ditto for all the folks who make hashing happen in your town. That’s how you can help ensure your own hash is a good one, with amenities like a trash, good beer, and plenty of hares.

Oh, and if you ever hash in Chicago, be sure to pick up a copy of Speckle Bird’s weekly trash, the Breaking Wind. After you’ve finished laughing your ass off, don’t forget to thank him for writing it!

- Flying Booger

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