Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Last Hurrah (or Gasp, Depending on How You Look at It)

I missed posting yesterday because I had to make one of my whirlwind round-trip runs from Greenville to Atlanta for the day. Thanks to an 8 AM breakfast at the Atlanta auto show media day, I shoved off from my home port at 5:30 AM.

Located in the Georgia World Congress Center next to The Atlanta Dome, the Atlanta auto show isn't one of the bigger shows on the circuit, but has survived the ailing economy mostly intact. Media day this year consisted of a GM-sponsored breakfast and Camaro presentation, five or six manufacturer press presentations at different displays around the floor, and the Chrysler-sponsored annual business-meeting lunch of our auto media group, GAAMA. Included in that business meeting was the election of next year's officers. Excitement ran high!

Serving as the executive vice president of GAAMA since its inception roughly two and a half years ago, my primary role during that period was not to spill anything on my shirt during our monthly lunch meetings -- at least nothing that would stain. I also had to avoid riding in the same car or flying on the same plane as our president; it was the whole succession thing, you see. I was also tasked with responsibilities regarding membership, such as growing it and vetting new members to ensure they are legitimate auto journalists: an oxymoron if I've ever heard one. Even if there is such a thing, what in the hell would I know about it?

In truth, the group's membership gains, which have been substantial, resulted mostly from the natural momentum of starting a new organization. If you build it, they will come. We have grown from perhaps 20 attendees at our first official meeting, to about 60 at yesterday's business meeting. Not bad for flailing around for two years.

I was the go-to guy to be president this year, but because of my travel schedule and the 300-mile round-trip commute required to attend Atlanta meetings, my attendance at board meetings over the past two years was spotty at best. I would have done the group a disservice to assume the mantle of leadership: If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve. The person elected as the new president did a lot of the heavy lifting required to create the growth GAAMA has enjoyed and is a much better choice than I.

I could have filled another office, but for the same reasons thought it best I step aside. Oddly, there was no concerted effort to draft me. Our meeting room didn't erupt in chants of "Russ, Russ, Russ..."

GAAMA's president these past two and a half years and the catalyst in getting this group off the ground will stay on the board for a year as President Emeritus. Me? Well, like George Washington, I will fade back into my role as a gentleman farmer, only in South Carolina rather than Virginia. I'll reflect on my achievements -- it shouldn't take long; and, perhaps, pen my memoirs to be titled: Zero, Is It Really a Number?

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