By Ainslie Heilich
Tuscola #316 and Heart in Hand co-founder
As an Order there has been a lot said over the past 80 years that our condition is terminal. That we are in a desperate state and need members more than anything. But here is the thing….
Desperate is not a good look.
Not to be confused with actively seeking help or assistance, we are taught that showing desperation as individuals will attract nothing good. If we are desperate for a date then we will attract the scumbags who see us as an easy score. If we are desperate for a job then we will only get the lowest offers possible.
At best, if we are desperate for members and go after anyone and everyone we know, at best we will get that golden apple that really “gets” Odd Fellowship and becomes the exact type of members we need. Most likely, however, we will just get a bunch of low hanging fruit to fluff our Lodge numbers with, that never attend anything, and you have to chase after for months for Dues. These guys don’t stick around long. They might have good intentions when joining but just don’t have the interest, time, or dedication to be involved. Eventually, they drop all together.
What is more likely to happen than finding the “Golden Apple” is that spoiled and rotten fruit will be found. We will accept and promote the wolves in sheeps clothing. The ones that have no business being Odd Fellows. And these con artists will see our Order as an easy mark. Once these characters infiltrate the Lodge, they will drive away good members, climb the Chairs so they can wield a lot of power over the finances, property, or leadership and manipulate others to their cause.
There are many complex deceptions that a rotten member can run to achieve the power, finances, or influence they seek. Here is a list of some archetypes to keep an eye out for.
The Do Nothing
Every Lodge probably has at least one. They come in two varieties. The Freshman and the Senior.
The Freshman Do Nothing is a newer member who joins and shows up for some Lodge functions but never helps out. They have a pleasant enough demeanor but they are always conveniently unable to do any of the work that goes into making anything happen. They will never volunteer or do any officer role that requires any responsibility. But they are always there if there is food involved. Often, they don’t mean any ill will or harm. But they are super unreliable and never pay dues on time. They can become dangerous, if they become leeches and joined with the intention of using the Lodge as a charity handout and take advantage of the generosity of their Brethren.
A good example is The Dude from “The Big Lebowski“.
Eventually, Freshmen Do Nothings stick around to become Seniors. The Senior Do Nothing has been around for 30 plus years and are toxic to a Lodge. Not to be confused with the Ritual Police who actually deeply care about the Order but come of as jerks, the Do Nothing refuses to use the up to date ritual purely on the principal of not wanting to swap out the sections. Talks about how great things used to be and how awful everything is now. They will disguise themselves as the Lodge Gatekeeper who kept things going through rough times when in reality they are the only one left as the true Gatekeepers have passed away. This member holds a lot of sway purely through seniority as they haven’t occupied a chair since 1995. If they are in a chair it is Secretary or Treasurer only because they use it as a means to bilk money from the Lodge. They take pride in how many newer members never return after they “put them in their place” as they are prone to emotional outbursts for any new idea raised. They would rather see the Lodge close than to allow new members come in and take over. These naysayers bully the other members into just giving up trying just so they don’t have to hear it. The Senior Do Nothing’s favorite phrases are “NO! NO! NO!” and “That’s NOT how its DONE!”
Other than the Great Depression, the Senior Do Nothing has killed more Lodges in the history of the Order than any other reason.
A good example is Ebenezer Scrooge.
The “Nice Guy” or “Stepford Smiler“
After the Do Nothing, this is next most common rotten member. Not to be confused with genuine guys (or gals) that are legitimately nice decent humans. “Nice Guys” are a whole breed unto themselves. They believe that if they behave in a certain way that they are owed for their actions. They hide or distract attention from their true desires in the beginning of the manipulation while gaining trust and once their true motive is known and if they aren’t successful in obtaining what they desire the “Nice Guy” mask comes off.
They will paint themselves as the misunderstood victim while making a dramatic exit like an grenade, destroying everything they were a part of. Once the smoke clears, they leave the biggest mess for everyone else to pick up the pieces and fix.
Luckily, after some experience, these types are easy to spot. They usually don’t get too far up the line to cause too much damage since these fragile bombs tend to go off easily and often. However, they are frustrating to deal with and can make good members give up and leave as a result.
A good example of a “Nice Guy” or “Stepford Smiler” is Norman Bates.
The Two Face
Part chameleon, part gambler, they are great at juggling personalities and opinions depending on who they are trying to impress. Being exactly who they need to be at that moment, they have no problem playing all the angles at the same time to get where they want to go. The Two Face is very well spoken and charming and will play the part of “the exact kind of member we need” to a T. They will make amazing promises and some may even come to fruition, only as a means to buy favor. They will say whatever anyone wants to hear to gain their confidence and then use it against them to advance to the next level. It is hard to know exactly who they really are underneath all the masks. These types tend to advance very far and find a way to make a nice tidy profit in the process either through illegal means or through manipulating loopholes to game the system while covering their tracks behind them.
A good example of this is Loki.
The Orchestra Conductor
The ultimate politician and the most dangerous of them all. This master manipulator plays the long game and likes to control from a safe distance while influencing others to do the hard work and assume all the risks all while reaping all the benefits. Any resistance is met with a stealth takedown. Their goal isn’t to be Sovereign Grand Master, it’s bigger than that. In fact, there may be an apprentice to act in leadership positions while this puppet master pulls the strings from behind the scenes. They won’t stop until they change the whole face of the organization and seat all of the power unilaterally beneath them in a major coup. If there are more than one of these Orchestra Conductors in operation at the same time, then the Order will split off like when the IOOF split from the Manchester Unity.
A good example of this is Emperor Palpatine.
The final lesson of all this is to know that Odd Fellowship isn’t for everyone. It takes a special individual to wear the mantle of Odd Fellowship. I will have to write a companion piece to this that shows some people that might be unexpected diamonds in the rough. “Quality over Quantity” isn’t just something that is said because it sounds good. Keep an eye out only for those that show earnest potential and mentor them so they can participate confidently. Do your due diligence before they are balloted and Initiated into the Lodge. We have a procedure in place and need to trust in that process for a reason. The very existence of your Lodge depends on it!