Sunday, January 25, 2015

Poop Bags and Microwaves. Equity Will Not Aid a Volunteer, So Why Bother?

Can I sue them for using my name?

Sometimes, the law sucks.  But sometimes it makes sense.  Allow me to illustrate with a parable and then you tell me whether this particular aspect of the law makes sense.

This is a microwave.

Now, you might not recognize it as a microwave, because it is in my Jeep.  But it is.  And, it's not just any microwave, it's a beige Sanyo microwave from the 1970s.  It's one of the original microwaves, made like a real appliance.

The shell is made of steel.  How do I know?  Because it is rusty.  And, the damn thing weighed roughly 40 pounds.

This is the microwave of the future past.  It's the beast that your mom first realized couldn't handle aluminum foil.

The "I Hate My Family Cookbook"
 I searched online for quite a while, but I couldn't find a picture of this beast.  Why?  Because it's a hateful, awful piece of technology, that no one wants to remember.

Anyhow, if you have ridden at the Beginner Trail at Alum Creek anytime recently, you may have noticed this particular model of engineering magnificence at the bottom of a creek bed, quietly, but obtusely rusting away.

I noticed it.  I noticed every time I rode past it.

The beginner trail is a great place for a warmup or cool down ride when I ride at Alum Creek Phase 1.  It's right across the street.  If  I'm too tired to do another 6 mile lap of P1, sometimes I'll pick up 3 more on the beginner loop.

And I take the family there pretty regularly.  It's an enjoyable trail for beginners.

But, every time I have ridden there recently, I have had to see that damned microwave.  The creek bed it sat in was in the direct line of sight as you passed around a bend near the 2 mile mark of the trail.

And it's jarring.  Alum Creek is a thickly wooded, natural state park, full of Ohioey natural beauty.  It's the kind of secluded wilderness that lifts the spirit and makes one forget about the workaday worries of everyday life.  And then you round a curve to see that rusty piece of outdated technology, wantonly abandoned to decompose in the middle of the woods, not too far from the roadway. 

I would like to find the person that dumped it and make them eat a meal from it.  To me, this is the worst kind of sacrilege.  Don't desecrate the dirt church.  And why would they dump it?  Because this flavor of asshole didn't want to pay to have the old microwave picked up or drive it to the dump.  

 Almost as bad as those shitbags who leave their dogs' shitbags on the trail.  I mean, why bag it, if you're just going to leave the bag on the trail?  As your mom would say, who do you expect to clean that up?

Shitbag's shitbag
But I digest.

Point is, I hate the microwave.  It's stupid and I wanted it gone.

So, at the last COMBO trail day, when we happened to be working on the beginner trail anyway, me and my boys broke off the group to get it out.

It wasn't easy.  The thing was heavy and it was laying at the bottom of a creek bed with steep banks.  That were covered with snow.  And the creek was frozen.  And the microwave was frozen in it and half full of icy leaves.

Not the creek in question, but you get the idea

We could have gotten hurt.  And, I was going to have to pay to haul it away and dispose of it.

Here's where the law comes in.  See, at law, if you had an agreement with someone, you could sue them if they didn't hold up their end of the bargain.  Even if you didn't have a written contract, so long as you had an agreement and an exchange, the law would often enforce your rights as a matter of equity.

But, there are exceptions.  One exception in the law is that "equity will not aid a volunteer."  What this means, at bottom, is that if you do work that benefits someone else, but you did it for free and without them agreeing to compensate you for the work, then tough titties.  You're out of luck.  You're considered a volunteer and your time and effort are lost.

Volunteer work is, in the eyes of the law, gratuitous and perhaps, by extension, a foolish endeavor.  I can still picture my first-year law school contracts professor, with his elbow-patched jacket and thick eyeglasses, warning us "don't be a volunteer."

A particularly bad time to volunteer

So, why bother?  Why volunteer when you have no hope of personal financial gain?

For me, it's simple.  I don't have to look at that goddamned microwave anymore.  That's compensation enough.

I could say that it's out of some sense of community duty, that it's out of civic goodwill.  But that would be bullshit.  It's selfish.  I like being out in the woods and I don't like looking at rotting appliances while I'm doing it.  Simple as that.

I suppose my work benefits others.  And, I suppose that other trail users will be happy that it's gone.  But those are really only secondary benefits to me.  I did it for me.

Why do you volunteer?  Isn't it, at base, just out of self-interest? Does that matter?  Does it need to be altruistic? 

Whatever.  Just keep getting it done.

Changing gears from things that are ugly and out of place to works of art that enlighten and entertain, here's a bumper sticker I saw recently.  Guess where I saw it?

Florida, of course
And here's one I saw a little closer to home.

West Side!

Apparently, big sister moved to LA to pursue a modelling career.

So, from the obtuse and out of place, to beacons of right here and right now, whatever you're doing, enjoy it.  As they say, "awesome is as awesome does."

Be brave.

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