Monday, July 19, 2010

Good Lesson On A Bad Day

I went out for an afternoon surf on Friday (exams this Saturday? What exams this Saturday?) and, yeah, I should have just stayed home. High tide wasn't until 4:00, so I left at noon and was well on my way when I started passing loads of minivans. With pails and shovels and boogie boards and folding chairs shoved in the backs of them. Why did I go to the coast on a Friday afternoon?

My session sucked. Or rather, I sucked. My mojo is gone. I didn't get one good ride in, and the water was freaking cold - about 45°. Every attempt gave me an ice cream headache. I use 1.5 mm gloves year round, but I don't remember my hands ever hurting like they did on Friday. I lasted 45 minutes - my shortest session ever. I need to schedule some time with Jules and find the mo and the jo.

But this is what I want to remember from that day: While I was suiting up, this douche bag kept talking to me - telling me he and his girl live in Bali and they've surfed all over the world, and how there was nothing to surf that day. (It was 4-5' and yeah, it mushed out, but there was plenty to ride.) (Not that I could manage to do it, but it was there.) He was going on and on about how he's surfed my spot for ten years and how that day it was the coldest water he's ever surfed, and he told me I wouldn't last an hour. (That made me so mad. I hated that he ended up being right.) I tried to be nice and make small talk with him, but he just ignored me. I felt invisible. I guess he was only interested in the sound of his own voice.

That dude is why I don't want to meet surfers. There are too many assholes. I have nothing in common with that guy, and there is nothing about why I get in the water that I could ever talk about with him.

I finished suiting up and went down to to the beach. I was looking at the waves and deciding where to go in, still frustrated by the encounter up by my car, when this other guy comes right over beside me and puts his board down. Older dude, clearly from the islands, small guy, sweet board. He started talking to me, asking me how long I'd been surfing, telling me my board would do great that day, giving me pointers and encouraging me. He was so cool. He had this warm smile and this totally open vibe. He was worried about my wetsuit - he thought it wasn't zipped up, but it's just a little too big for me. And he told me how he quit his job 6 or 7 years ago so he would have more time to surf. Any regrets?, I asked. None. Not a one. We talked for another few minutes and then he told me to have fun, and he grabbed his board and headed for the water.

It was just one of those brief encounters that make you feel like you matter. Kicked the shit out of my bad attitude. And I ended up feeling that I'd gotten something out of a lousy surf day - which says a lot.


  1. It's just like with life- there will be a-hole who yammer on never listening to anything but the sound of their own (negative) voice and there will be, among the chatter of the assinine, lovely people who shine a light. Seek those moments and drop the rest.

    Sometimes being nice to yammering a-holes is not worth it.

    Ok, not sometimes. It's never worth it! ;-)

  2. I love the phrase "kicked the shit out of my bad attitude." LOVE it.

    I actually just had a jerk mutter something rude to me this morning, and I was about to let it ruin my morning until I realized it didn't have to matter a single bit. Who is he to me anyway? Just an asshole who likes to make people feel small while they're waiting to get on an elevator, apparently. So I decided he didn't get to dictate the type of day I was going to have.

    Here's to redeeming conversations, from strangers and friends alike.

  3. He should hire out. Seriously. I love people like that. They have just the right things to say that totally wipe out the assholes. Go you!

  4. Yes, I have met Bali man. Or folks pretty much like that, I do believe. I'm amazed by the opinions people feel they have to voice (or have the insight to voice). After I wish they would shut up, or just take their vibe elsewhere, I almost feel bad for them. (Almost.)

    Having said that... I always read about how awful surfing in LA is (where I live). And it is often ludicrous. But when I stop and think about it, pretty much every session I always meet an easygoing soul as I pack up. And at least once a week, when I'm trying to figure out whether to turn and paddle for a wave, some guy will shout encouragement. It's like the awesome surfer you met that day -- they're out there! And at least in my experience, it actually lifts those guys' spirits to see a newer person dedicated and excited. I bet you made his day a little nicer, too.

  5. By the way: 45 degrees. Holy shitballs.