Thursday, January 31, 2013


I will soon be officially certified by the local 4H as “probably not a child molester.”  You can imagine how relieved I feel.

Ever since the girls joined 4H, Kim and I have been pressed into service as volunteer leaders.  It’s just that sort of organization, only more so because not only do you have each individual club in search of leaders but you also have a half-inch-thick book of activities that every 4H member can participate in, each of which requires at least one and possibly up to half a dozen more leaders.  It’s a leader-intensive organization, 4H.

And you have to pitch in for that sort of thing.  You have to do your bit.  Unless you have gone Galt and are sitting around freeloading off the collective achievements of society while clutching your precious lucre firmly in your shriveled talons and complaining that the requirements of a civilized society are so, so unfair, you understand that you have a moral responsibility to give back to your community, especially those parts you’re taking part in.  And if you have gone Galt, well, you shouldn’t be involved in such groups to begin with.  Go cuddle with your Glock and wait for the apocalypse somewhere out of the way so the rest of us can move on without you.

Where was I?

Oh, right.  Pitching in.  Becoming a leader.  Right.

So, anyway, we’re leaders.  Low-level leaders, particularly in my case, but leaders nonetheless.  And in this day and age such a status requires certification that you are not the sort of unspeakably evil person who should be beaten senseless with the nearest available heavy object, up to and including your own severed limbs.

When I had to go through this process to be an assistant coach for Lauren’s Girl Scouts softball team, I was required to fill out a background form that was probably more detailed than the one used for prospective Cabinet members – which would explain any number of Cabinet officials in this nation’s grand and fascinating history, now that I think of it – and to submit my information for a criminal background check.  Fortunately I have led a blameless life from the criminal-background perspective, and the people they called to check up on me (yes, indeed, the Girl Scouts actually checked up on my references – the fact that they couldn’t read my handwriting and kept asking my references what they thought of “Dirk” probably didn’t matter all that much, in the long run) said I was likely harmless in that regard going forward, so I did in fact get to coach for a couple of summers.

It was fun.  And notably crime free.

For 4H, however, you have to go to a meeting.

So we showed up at the county courthouse and were directed to the jury selection room, where we and maybe a couple dozen other prospective leaders sat through a 90-minute class on how to navigate the dangerous waters of youth leadership these days.  This is a remarkably complicated task, it turns out.  Did you know that 4H leaders, like teachers, are now required to report suspicions of abuse to police?  That we are, certification notwithstanding, considered dangerous by default simply by virtue of being where we are and must take pro-active steps to avoid baseless accusations being leveled at us?  It was a long meeting.

Also, there were no cookies.  Cookies would have made all that a bit less hard to take.  I am easily swayed by cookies.  This was a definite advantage the Girl Scouts had - they were awash in cookies.

Then we submitted a check and a form to have yet another criminal background check done, because the Girl Scouts and 4H don’t share that sort of information.  There are probably rules about that.  It’s probably for the best.

I do understand why they do all this, by the way.  There are enough evil people in the world that everyone is now a suspect and everyone has to be monitored.  The consequences of not doing it outweigh the inconveniences and incongruities of doing it, and so it is done.  It’s a sad commentary, but there it is.  I don’t have to like it, but if I want to keep on being a leader in this outfit, even at my low level,  it is something I have to do anyway.

So pretty soon I’ll be certifiable.

I’ve said that for years.

No comments: