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President's Report - April 2024
Nolan Ahn, PAK President

R.S.V.P.

I am very poor with language.  If it wasn’t for pidgin English, I would be monolingual.  I appreciate and admire people who can speak and understand other languages, but my ability is limited to learning, “hello,” “goodbye,” and “thank you” in the language of countries I visit.  There are a few random phrases that I know by heart.  One of them is “respondez s’il vous plait” in French, which means “Respond, if you please.”  The letters RSVP used to be on all invitations to weddings, baby luau, retirement parties.  Invitees would tell their hosts if they were coming or not so the hosts could plan accordingly for the event.  Somewhere, somehow, the letters RSVP became a “mild suggestion” rather than a mandate in Hawaii.  People would not say if they were coming and show up at the event.  In true island style, they would be welcomed with open arms and treated like the guests that had said they were coming.  It became common knowledge that “local people don’t RSVP.”  Hosts started the practice of preparing for more people than respondents, because the ultimate shame of throwing a party is to not have enough food for the guests.  Such was the case at our latest PAK event, a Membership Mahalo Party held at Kalena Park this past March 30.  We had free clinics for beginners, intermediate, and advanced players.  We offered a clinic for those that may want to be tournament referees.  A free lunch of delicious chicken hekka was prepared.  We asked for people to respond if they were attending.  Approximately 50 said they were coming.  About 130 showed up.  Since we prepared food for at least 150 people, we did not run out of food, but we had quite a bit of leftovers, and the event was a big success.  Thanks to all who showed up, the instructors, the vendors, the police department, the fire department, and all the people who joined PAK, made donations, bought tshirts, and had a wonderful pickleball day. 

I started thinking of why people don’t respond to a polite request about their attendance.  Is it because it is humbug?  Too much trouble?  Not sure and want to keep their options open?  My conclusion is that local people think telling someone “no can” is rude, and being rude is just not done.  Where this gets to be a problem is this “polite” non-response carries over to things other than RSVPs.  Since we are a volunteer organization, we find ourselves asking a lot of people to give their time and talents to us.  This requires that we ask them, and many times we do not get an answer at all.  Email message: “Can you instruct a beginners class at our membership event?”  Silence.  Then we must ask again because we don’t know.  Planning for this event stops until a response is received.  If a “no” was received, we could immediately look for someone else.  If a “yes” was received, we could move on to other tasks.  A “maybe” is worse than a “no” because it requires resolution before looking elsewhere and puts both parties in limbo until a decision is made.  Such has been the case with PAK’s search for a suitable location to construct their first dedicated pickleball courts.  In the two and a half years we have been searching, we have vetted more than 30 possible sites.  Many of them, particularly those involving government, have given us a firm “maybe” for an answer.  The problem with a maybe is that they are identical to a firm “no” because nothing happens.  As Anderson Cooper said, “Hope is NOT a plan and failure is NOT an option.”

With diligence PAK will keep up the fight for courts until we cannot fight any more.  Your Board of Directors have stayed the course, and we feel that with so many “no’s” in our past, we must be getting close to that precious “yes” that will vault us into the next step.  When the opportunity comes to us, we will surely do our due diligence and if it is right, respond with a resounding “YES.  IMUA (forward)!”

 

Until next month,

Nolan

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