There's an age-old belief about the best, perhaps only, way to extract yourself from a volunteer position: Don't retire till you find your replacement.
But for how long do you search?
This philosophy may have worked back when community service was part of everyone's life, but today, not so much.
More than 16 years ago I agreed to join the committee of the Maungaturoto Country Club with its bunch of satellite sports clubs, a repertory theatre, plus social members. Then I agreed to become secretary which, at first, involved simply taking minutes and typing them up. Over the years the role became bigger.
Apparently I got that job because of an assumption. I could do shorthand, therefore must have been on committees. In fact, I hadn't been near a committee in my life.
I learned shorthand at school and cruised through a refresher programme when I studied journalism. My classmates were gripped with envy as they struggled to make sense of their notes which often looked like the death throes of an inky spider. For me, the process was effortless.
Nine months ago, after making we-want-out noises, the president (who also answers to ''the farmer''), the treasurer and myself decided we'd had enough of this find your replacement business. We gave the community and club members notice of our intentions – we wouldn't be up for renewals at the AGM - and waited. And waited. And waited.
With the meeting looming and not a squeak of interest, we began to feel anxious. What if no-one stepped forward?
The farmer/president met with the club's lawyer who advised that if no-one claimed officer positions, i.e. pres, treas, vp and sec, we should cancel services, including water and power, and advise suppliers we could no longer guarantee payment.
Then we publicised the fact. We thought this would galvanise members but, again, in 2019, not so much.
Then two responsible couples who were not committed members, but were passionate about our wonderful club said that if no-one else stepped forward, they'd take the reins.
As we drove to the AGM, the farmer pointed out I'd been married to the club longer than I'd been married to him. I said that I found this vaguely offensive. I had not been married to the club.
"Maybe it was an affair," he suggested, not willing to let this go. "You dipped your toe in the water, got sucked into an unsatisfactory affair and have spent the last 16 years trying to get out again."
I sighed. That wasn't true either.
The truth is that the role has enabled me to meet locals, many of whom are generous and outgoing. I've had fun, laughed a lot and made good friends. It's been great for my self confidence and has shown me what community spirit is all about.
Anyway, now a bunch of newbies are on the committee and will take the club – a multi-million dollar facility with annual expenses to match – into the future.
The day after the AGM I was joyfully busy and also a bit wiped out after enduring the uncomfortable, silent wait the night before until people finally made nominations. Today I've fired off so many emails to move things forward that someone responded: "You're certainly getting rid of your job."
Yes, indeedy. The old adage about replacing yourself is dead and buried. The motto that applies these days is also an oldie: When you close a door, a window opens – even if you have to wrench the damn thing open with a crow bar.