The 50 Year Member - Part Nine: Those That Are Lost
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Bill Hosler, PM
It was a beautiful sunny day and Pudge was having lunch on the outdoor patio of his favorite bistro. He was reading a book on his e-reader while munching on a turkey Panini and a bowl of soup. The sandwich went very well with the soup and gave him the mental break he was in need of from the long morning at work.
As Pudge sat at the table, not paying attention to his surroundings, a voice brought him back to reality, “Pudge?” a voice said. Pudge looked around to see where the voice was coming from. “Randy”, Pudge exclaimed! He rose from his seat while putting his hand out, “long time no see! How have you been?” Pudge then motioned for him to sit and join him.
Randy replied as he placed his tray on the table and pulled up a seat, “It has been a long time. How have you been?” Pudge smiled and said, “I have been good. Just work, oh the usual stuff. I haven’t seen you at lodge in forever. Where have you been?” The smile left Randy’s face as he began to look uncomfortable. “I have decided I am not going back to lodge,” Randy said feeling apprehensive. “It just wasn’t for me.”
Pudge began to feel sad. He had liked Randy and had hoped he would become an active member of the lodge. “Oh man that’s awful! Did we do something wrong?” “No! Not at all, Randy said. It just wasn’t what I expected Freemasonry to be. I watched movies and I read a lot of books before I joined. I thought I would learn something from lodge. I wanted to find a way to become a better man. All that seemed to happen when I attended were long winded reports given by the secretary and treasurer followed by a bunch of the older guys bickering.”
“When I did attend, you and a couple of the other guys were the only ones who even said hello to me. Everyone else seemed to sit and talk to each other, which made it feel like those cliques we all experienced in high school. It really bothered me. It was much different from the night I was raised, where everyone congratulated me and slapped me on the back while they told me how happy they were to have me as a brother. Then the very next meeting they didn’t even bother to greet me. After a couple of meetings like this I thought to myself, why did I bother to come? I could be at home right now with my wife and kids. After missing a couple of meetings and it became obvious no one noticed I was not there, I thought well heck with it.”
Pudge felt really bad. Like the others, he had not noticed Randy had not attended and that no one had called to check on him. Pudge felt really disappointed with himself. “I’m so sorry Randy. I’m just as guilty as everyone else. I get so wrapped in my day to day schedule I had noticed you weren’t there. I guess I thought you were busy too. I never stopped to think about it.”
Randy smiled and said “It’s OK Pudge; I know you aren’t like that. I meant the lodge as a whole. It seemed like once I got through the degrees they didn’t care about me anymore.” Pudge understood how he felt. When he was first raised he had felt the same way. If he had not struck up a friendship with the 50 year member it would not have been long and he would have given up too.
“Let me ask you a question Randy,” Pudge said as he took a sip of his latte. “If there was a way I could make Freemasonry the way you had expected it to be, would you come back?” Randy sat for a second contemplating his answer. “I would give it a shot. But there would have to be a big change to get me to come back.” Pudge removed the napkin from his lap and placed it on his plate. “I have to get back to work, but let me work on a few things and I will give you a call. I promise to get back to you soon.” Randy smiled and said, “OK. I promise to keep an open mind and listen to you what you have to say.”
Pudge rose from his seat and took Randy’s hand and gave him the grip of a Master Mason. “I am very sorry. I didn’t fulfill my obligation to you and I do miss seeing you at lodge. I hope I can make things so that you will come back.” Randy shook Pudge’s hand as he replied, “I miss seeing you too and can’t wait to hear from you. Have a great day!”
The rest of Pudge’s work days seem to drag. It seemed he couldn’t get his mind off Randy and his opinion of the lodge and Freemasonry in general. It was really sad because he remembered how enthusiastic Randy was when he was going through the degrees. He was excited and could barely contain himself the night he was raised. How quickly the zeal faded and was replaced with disappointment. Pudge began to wonder how many other young men slipped through the cracks the way that Randy did.
After dinner, the 50 year member was sitting in his recliner reading the newspaper. After a few minutes of reading, the old man fell asleep in his chair. It was part of his nightly ritual where he would snore in his chair until the wife would wake him and ask if he was ready to go to bed.
As the old man was sleeping, the sound of the doorbell awakened him. As the 50 year member got up from his chair he checked his watch, “Who in the world could this be?” he wondered to himself. He opened the door and could see it was Pudge standing on the doorstep. “Hey Pudge”, the old man said as he wiped the sleepy from his eyes. “Come on in! Have you had supper yet?” “Oh yeah, I’m fine. We need to talk. I’m not interrupting anything am I?” The old man laughed, “I was just resting my eyes. Come on in the den.”
As the men sat down in the den, the 50 year member asked, “So Pudge, what’s on your mind?” Pudge leaned forward in his chair, “I ran into Randy Petty today. He decided he is going to quit our lodge. Not because of his work or family, but because he doesn’t feel included. He also said expected to learn something when he attended a meeting. To only have bickering and the reading of the minutes was quite a surprise to him. I guess in a nutshell he expected National Treasure and he got Grumpy Old Men. After talking to him, I started to wonder about all the young guys we have brought into lodge that quit coming. Maybe their leaving was for the same reason.”
The old man sighed and leaned back into his chair, “I expect quite a few. This needs to be corrected. We need to come up with some way to bring these men back into the lodge and make them feel welcome. Let’s come up with some ideas that might interest them into coming back. We then need to contact them. I would prefer we visit them in person when we invite them back. I have a couple of ideas and some different ways we might be able to fix this.”
WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.