Monday, November 24, 2014

On Any Sunday

I was 12 years old when the original On Any Sunday, by Bruce Brown, was released in the theaters.

Only 2 years into motorcycle mania, I can't tell you how many times me and my likeminded buddies rode our bicycles to the theater that summer to watch Malcolm Smith, Steve McQueen and Mert Lawill do what I wanted to do every single day of my life.

I still get goose bumps just thinking about the theme song.

And my wife, who grew up in a much more innocent Malibu in those days, remembers McQueen, her neighbor, riding his motorcycle up Broad Beach Road to retrieve his dog, Junior (named after McQueen's 1972 movie "Junior Bonner"), who routinely escaped to retrieve treats from that little 10 year old girl.

My wife loved Junior and she gladly dog sat for free - volunteering so to speak. And it didn't matter that the owner was a famous movie star; she still volunteers to rescue dogs and get them to good homes. Volunteerism is part of her.

Back to the movie: now Brown's son Dana has taken over the family legacy with a new On Any Sunday, The Next Chapter - and I can't wait to see it.

In an earlier post I used motorcycle riding as a metaphor for the need to deal with the mental aspect of work injury or disease (or LIFE for that matter); that I've had many, many injuries (some life and/or potentially career ending) either tells me I have a tougher mental profile than most, or I'm just stupid.

Might be both - at least that's what my wife tells me.

There's a big, international market for the therapy that motorcycles provide. Brown's film is testament to that.

There's culture and community - a really big community.

Culture, community.
Back in the "old days" it was only Harley riders who would acknowledge this community, and only to each other. A wave of the hand passing by was the signal that you were "in." The Harley exclusivity has given way to the larger population of all makes and models, and nearly every rider signals to each other "the brotherhood" regardless of make, model or gender.

As is typical with a community there are lots of volunteers for nearly anything and everything that is motorcycling. Events have volunteers to mark course, clean up, assist parking, ticketing, etc. Volunteers make up organizations. Motorcyclists help each other. It's part of the community and culture.

Famous business guru, Peter Drucker, said, "Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer." Drucker back then likely knew more that we appreciate about volunteers and risk.

Real volunteers that do real work sometimes have to be insured against work accidents, and this sometimes is not possible to provide within small budgets.

The people of the Village of Middleburgh, NY, population 1,483, had been asking their elected officials to do something to ensure their safety after a stabbing, so a retired policeman came forward and volunteered to serve as a constable for the tiny town.

The town's risk manager and insurance agency, however, told the town's board that doing so would be costly.

New York is one of the few states in the nation where state law specifically says that volunteers working for nonprofit organizations are eligible for comp benefits.

Many states specifically extend their comp acts to provide coverage for volunteer firefighters, police officers and paramedics, but unpaid workers outside these fields are subject to a wide variety of treatment. Sometimes an organization doesn't find out that a "volunteer" is really an "employee" until after a risk has occurred, creating some form of liability for the organization for which it wasn't prepared.

If the village decides to appoint an unpaid constable, according to the town's agent interviewed in a WorkCompCentral story this morning, the insurance company would look at the average salary for a comparable worker in other municipalities to calculate an appropriate rate to charge for comp coverage.

Plus there's the liability side, for which the small town would purchase more insurance, in addition to written policies and procedures, and other employment-like minutiae.

"Institutions relying on the services of volunteers to carry out their work should keep in mind the first law of capitalism: there is no such thing as a free lunch," says Jon Coppelman, a principal with the Boston-area consulting firm, Lynch Ryan & Associates and himself a prolific blogger.

The realization that insurance is a proper risk mitigation strategy that is going to cost some money by that small village in New York may dampen volunteerism, or it may be not.

Volunteerism is a part of community, a part of culture. Where there's a need there's usually someone willing to help out at no direct cost.

"It's a disease and once you have it, it doesn't leave your body ... ever," 24 year old deaf women's motocross champion, Ashley Fiolek, says in the movie trailer about motorcycling.

"There's a lot of injuries that happen along the way, but the human spirit will never die." one of the narrations goes on to say in the On Any Sunday, The Next Chapter trailer.

Filolek may just as well be talking about volunteerism; There's no free lunch, there may be some injuries, but the spirit won't die.

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