A number of club members are surprised that I’ve decided to hang up my hat at the end of my elected term of office. When questioned closely I realised that they had no idea how much time running the club takes up. I didn’t care to elaborate for fear of putting them off from offering to take my place or lend a helping hand. But the time spent recently on getting a new licence rather beautifully illustrates the point.
The youngster in question needed a licence to take part in a recent race. As the matter was of some urgency, I took the paperwork to him rather than the other way around. I was in his neck of the woods in any event delivering replacement licences to some of our racers who had misplaced the originals and required copies to take part in the recent French amateur championships. That particular day I had totally forgotten it was the first day of the summer sales and, as a consequence of the traffic, a round trip of 45 kilometres took me over three hours. I then popped all the paperwork in the post to the association and asked that the licence be sent directly to the youngster because I would be on vacation at the end of July and the beginning of August. All paperwork is normally returned to my home address.
While on vacation, I sent the youngster a text to check whether or not he had received his licence. He hadn’t. So I contacted the relevant association only to discover that the lady who processes licence requests was on vacation from mid-July to mid-August. No one deals with her job while she’s away, the work just piles up. However, one of her associates very kindly offered to check through the paperwork. Seeking assistance and clarification, I sent an email to the secretary of the association, who’s also a member of our club. He helpfully suggested that the youngster could ride on the basis that his application was in the works. The association president, in true job-worth’s fashion, declared that nothing could be done while the lady in question was on vacation. And you wonder why no Frenchman has won the Tour since Hinault?
A few days later, the association got back to me saying they could find no trace of the paperwork. Typical! In three years of sending paperwork back and forth this was the first to be lost in the post. There was no way round it. Duplicates were required. I contacted the youngster asking him to acquire a duplicate medical certificate and I again went around to pick up the paperwork which this time I delivered in person to the association who gave me a temporary licence for him. He took part in the race and came second to the regional and departmental champion. Having tasted competition, he’s keen for more so I’ve sorted out details of all the up and coming races for him.
I assumed his permanent licence would arrive while I was at the Vuelta but a text from him confirmed it was still outstanding. I returned home to find a letter containing the licence. Except, it wasn’t. Instead, they’d renewed the licence of his elder brother who used to be a member of the club. So I got onto the association this afternoon and politely asked if they could properly process the application and send the licence direct to the correct brother. They will do once I send back the wrong licence!
By the time he finally receives his licence two whole months will have elapsed since I made the initial application and, by my reckoning, I will have spent at least 8 hours of my time and half a tank of petrol on this one small matter. In addition, he, or rather his parents, have had to pay out for two medical certificates. You might be thinking that this was somewhat of an extreme example but sadly people never stop to think that they’re wasting my time and I’ve dealt with many such issues. The youngster appreciated my efforts and in the end for me that’s really what counted. When he gets his first professional win, I’ll look fondly back on this particular challenge and realise that it was all worthwhile.