I’ll apologize in advance if I offend anyone – and if you don’t want to read my snarky comments, click off right now. I have debated long and hard about whether to even write this or not, but I don’t seem to be able to focus on anything else, so I guess I’ll just write it – and let the chips fall where they may.
It’s Wednesday afternoon and I’m not playing bridge. One of the ladies in my foursome is ill and our more or less permanent substitute can’t play today. In the past, I’ve been going to the church and picking up a partner at the bridge group at the church. It’s set up that way – anyone can come whenever they can, and you don’t have to worry about having a partner or anything. For many years we just met at the church and played on Wednesday afternoons. In fact when I was still working, I tried not to schedule a client on Wednesdays so I could be sure and play. I actually was the leader of the group for a couple of years, but eventually, one of my clients asked that I work on Wednesday afternoons, so I had to quit. Shortly after I quit bridge at the church, the group kind of fell apart – many of the ladies got too old to drive, or got sick, or died. In an effort to revive the group, the church hired a bridge teacher to give a half-hour lesson before open play started. She allowed those who wanted to play duplicate to do that, and those who wanted to play party bridge to play that way. Part of having her come teach the lesson and then direct the play was a charge of $5 a person for the afternoon, but those who were part of the original Wednesday afternoon bridge group could be grandfathered in and not have to pay. I had been dropping in occasionally when my foursome didn’t play, and not paying, based on the grandfather rule.
Anyway, the last time I went to the church, the director pulled me aside and told me that one of the staff at the church had told her that I shouldn’t be grandfathered and I would need to pay $5 if I wanted to play. I haven’t been back.
$5 may seem like a small enough sum to pay, but if it’s weekly, I certainly can’t afford it – or rather I can afford it but I can’t justify the cost in my mind. That’s $200+ a year for pure recreation. I certainly don’t begrudge the instructor/director her money – that’s her business and her job – but I wonder whether there are very many other people in the church who might like to play bridge, but are reluctant to pay that kind of money. I know I would have to cut back on the yarn I buy to make socks for the PW missions. I know many, many, many of the folks in that church are affluent enough that $5/week doesn’t seem like much. But I also know that just paying for the gas to drive to the church makes some of them consider whether they will come to another meeting or Bible study, much less come to something that is pure recreation. And to add a $5 charge on top of it is too much.
Big Al has been heading up a task force asking why more people don’t participate in the activities and opportunities that are offered by the church. Unfortunately, most of those opportunities come with an “oh, by the way, there’ll be a charge of …” Even Bible studies, encourage the participants to “Buy a new study Bible, and a workbook.”
Presbyterian Women meets around either lunch or supper (only $6-$8 for the meal, and you certainly don’t HAVE to eat, but that’s when the socializing happens), and the study guide is $10 a year, and we collect an offering of school supplies or socks or Halloween candy every month. Oh, yes, save your pennies to give to the Least Coin. And please contribute to the Birthday Offering and… I know the PW missions are very worthwhile, but I wonder if there are women who would like to attend, but are embarrassed to never contribute.
Everybody has their hand out these days for a contribution, and I truly believe they are all in as much or more need of money than I am, but I can’t do it all. I do what I can, but that’s why I can’t justify spending $5 a week on playing bridge. I don’t know what the answer is, but, even though I’ve made my decision about where I’m going to spend that $5, it doesn’t make me any less envious of those people who are playing bridge this afternoon.