Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Storytime - An odd event

It's time for me to tell you a story. A story about a girl, not much unlike me. This story is based on a true story and any resemblance with live characters is totally intentional.

Alex loved to play football. She had recently switched teams to be able to get into a higher division and really liked it. Football had been seeing a rough couple of months, and teams all around her were having trouble finding enough players for the games. But her team managed to recruit a couple of good players, and they seemed to be right on track to actually win some important games. Although some of her friends had recently decided to quit the team, she decided to stick with it because she really enjoyed their play style and her team mates.

One day when she came for the regular practice, she noticed that her locker had been moved. Instead of being out with the rest of the team mates, she now got to into the trainers locker room, which was in a secluded area. In here, a couple of players who were the trainers right and left hands and called "helpers" discussed who to pick for the games and why. They also discussed practice techniques and strategies on how to tackle various teams. Alex didn't know why someone had decided that she was good enough, or knew enough, to suddenly be part of the trainer team, but she wasn't going to question it. She decided that if they had promoted her, it was probably because they thought she could handle it, and she would do her best. Also, she was assigned to handing out directions and discuss matters during games, aiming to help everyone perform at their best, which wouldn't differ much from what she thought she was already doing in her team, always trying to get a discussion going on why something didn't work and why something did, on what shoes that were the best on what surface and so on. So she continued doing what she always had done.

A couple of weeks passed when the trainer asked if Alex could come see him after the game. Alex wondered what that could be all about, but didn't have the feeling that it could be anything good. "The talk" is never a good thing. When she got into the trainer locker room she was met by the trainer and some of his helpers who were wearing important and serious faces.

"So, what's up?", Alex asked.

"Well..." the Trainer started. "There have been some complaints. About you." The helpers around him nodded gravely and looked at her.

"Umm, ok?" Alex said, unsure what more to say about it. "What kind of complaints?"

"Well you know" said the Trainer and shrugged. "People saying you've got an attitude. That you're... being mean to them".

"Well... I'm not" tried Alex.

"Yeah yeah, we all know that" said the Trainer and looked around at his helpers, who all nodded quickly. "And we've tried explaining it to them, but these people insist that you're got it in for them".

"Ok?" Alex said again, still unsure about how this would unfold.

"They actually wanted us to kick you out of the team".

Alex was silent.

"But we said that that wouldn't happen."

"What exactly is it I've done or said to offend these people?" Alex asked. "I could perhaps just say I'm sorry and explain that I never meant any harm, if I know what it is that bothered them?"

"Yeah, that would be nice, but the problem is bigger" said the Trainer and paused, as if he was unsure how to proceed. "The real problem is that it's not really what you say, it's the fact that you're the one saying it".

Alex stared at the trainer, looked at the helpers who quickly looked away, and back to the Trainer. She tried to figure out if this was a bad joke or not. But the Trainer didn't say anything more.

"Not much I can do about that, is there?" She said.

"No, unfortunately not." the Trainer admitted.

"So what should I do?"

"We have decided to remove you as a helper, first of all. You'll just be a regular player again. That way, people won't feel so threatened by you, and maybe they will like you?".

Alex wasn't sure she was hearing what she was hearing.

"Do you think I've done anything wrong?" she asked.

"Oh no, not at all. But that doesn't matter. Some people think you have. They have said that something has to be done or they will leave the team."

"But by demoting me you're basically telling them that you agree with them, and this is my punishment. Although I've only ever done my job, by trying to engage people in discussions about how the games could go smoother. I've never deliberately tried to make anyone feel bad about their performance, the opposite!"

"Yes we know that" said the Trainer calmly. "But these people are offended nonetheless, and something has to be done".

"Ok, if you think this will help. I strongly doubt that" Alex said and shrugged. "You'll only enforce their dislike with me by condoning their attitude towards me".

"But by making you a regular player they will want to be your friends" the Trainer said again. "But anyway" he continued hastily "that's not all. We'd also want you to try to not talk during our games. Try to keep whatever you say to things that aren't about the game".

"You want me to think about every little thing that comes out of my mouth, making sure I don't hurt someones feelings? What would that help? Apparently it doesn't matter what I say since anything I say hurts someones feelings." Alex said angrily.

"True, but it's a start".

"Can't you just tell me who it is that feels so threatened by me and I'll try not to talk to them?"

"Sure, it's Sandra." said the Trainer.

"Sandra?" asked Alex, and tried to remember all the times they had spoken. "No one else?"

"Well...." said the Trainer slowly. "Not specifically, but she has friends, and she threatened to quit the team and tell her friends to do so as well if we didn't do anything about you".

"I know I've got a rough way of expressing myself at times, but I've never even said anything bad to her" Alex said, forcing herself to remember every word that she's ever said to Sandra. Sandra hadn't been in the team for long, and Alex had really thought she was a great player. She had thought that she'd said so to Sandra, but apparently she had gotten the entirely wrong impression.

"Well there was this one time" piped one of the helpers.

"Yes?" asked the Trainer.

"You were discussing some shoe brand"

Alex remembered.

"Oh yeah, she said she was saddened that her favorite shoe brand was going out of sale, and I told her that they weren't. They're only out of sale in some countries, not this one, so she didn't have to worry." Alex looked puzzled. "She was offended by that?".

"Apparently" the helper shrugged. Alex was annoyed. If people are that easily offended, it didn't seem like there was much she could do.

"I'll try" Alex said shortly. "Is that all?".

"Yes, for now" the Trainer replied.

A couple of days went, and when Alex came back for the next game, she noticed that they hadn't moved her locker back to the players room yet. The Trainer approached her and said;

"I was thinking about moving the locker before the game today, and explain to the whole team that you're not a helper anylonger."

Alex looked at the Trainer, who just smiled an honest smile at her.

"You want to move my locker in front of the whole team, publicly humiliating me? In what way will that make people like me more, or be for my benefit, as you claim this to be?".

"You think it's a bad idea?" the Trainer asked, and looked sincerely confused.

"I think the whole idea is a bad idea, and making it when everyone can see it is just adding insult to injury. I truly don't see the point in that" Alex answered, puzzled that the Trainer didn't see that.

"Oh ok, well then I'll just do it when no one is here."

"Thank you" Alex said.

The game went on without much trouble, but during half-time, the Trainer waved at her to come see him again.

"What the HELL was that?!" he yelled at her. Alex just looked confused at him.

"What was what?"

"What you just said out there, completely unacceptable!"

Alex stared at him.

"You mean when I explained why Tomas and Michael fell? Because of the muddy grass?"

"Yes, I told you not to comment on the game, didn't I? People will be offended again!"

"Are you serious? In what way can my comment on the bad weather be offending to people?" Alex was getting angry. This was completely absurd.

"You know it doesn't matter what you say!" the Trainer yelled. Alex took a deep breath.

"I'm sorry, I won't censor every damn word I say. If people are that sensitive, that's frankly their problem. I couldn't care less. Listen to yourself Trainer. Who is bullying who right now? Now if you excuse me". Alex ran out to the game again.

Her locker was moved. She didn't really care. It wasn't the fact that she wasn't a helper anylonger, because frankly it didn't differ much whether she was or not. It was the fact that she was allowed to be treated this way because of some feeling someone had of her. Someone who had decided it was a better solution to have the Trainer punish her instead of trying to solve it by talking to her directly. Alex decided to act as if nothing had happened. She couldn't care less for such behavior, and actually thought it was rather fascinating that the Trainer claimed this to be for her sake, for her benefit. She really thought he believed he was doing the right thing, when instead he had just told the entire team that through extortion and power you can get your way, no matter what way that was. She had no old friends in the team anylonger since they had moved to another team, so he'd probably thought it was an easy thing to have Alex sacrifice herself a little to make the other ones happy. But where to draw the line?

A couple of days later, Sandra approached Alex.

"Can I talk to you?" she asked. Alex was confused, had she said something wrong again?

"Yeah sure" she said, bracing herself.

"Well you know the other day when I was discussing positions on the field?" Sandra asked, and Alex nodded.

"Apparently Emma was offended by what I said, and now she is talking shit about me behind my back! I really didn't mean to offend anyone... what should I do?".

Alex tried to suppress a gloating smile. She actually felt sorry for Sandra. Maybe there really was something like Karma. Didn't she realize that what she just had put Alex through, had happened to herself? But she also had an opportunity to make things right, hopefully. She gave Sandra a nudge on the shoulder and said;

"Ignore it. Things like this happen now and then. She'll realize it was a misunderstanding. Most of you are new around here and we don't really know eachother well enough to do hasty assumptions about hidden meanings in what we say. We should all really just relax and have fun. Isn't that why we play this game?"

Sandra looked at her and nodded slowly.

"Yeah, I suppose you're right".


  1. Girls = drama?

    /Hartland - who is posting anonymously because blogger insists that if he wants to use his google account he has to sign up with blogger and he has no intentions to do so.

  2. @Hartland
    Yeah, sometimes I'm definitely inclined to think so...

  3. You lost me at the shoe metaphor, but that's some serious bullshit treatment by the "trainers". It's cowardly and doesn't actually address the problem, which is a "player" trying to throw their weight around to force leadership changes. No player is that important, and the trainers should have told Sandra to fuck right off and recruited more players. I'm glad that you were kind to Sandra in the end, but I'm still annoyed at the trainers >_>

  4. It also downplays the positive effect of being hard on your players. Not being able to dissect what went wrong means not improving upon it next time.

    Sounds like "Trainer" has fallen into the trap of trying to make everyone happy (besides you of course, one of his core players), not realizing that it's success that makes people happy in any game, not happy go lucky losses.

  5. @redcow
    That is pretty much how everyone else reacted when I told them what had happened - "why didn't he just tell her to suck it up". Even if this event of course is my side of the story, I still find it odd to punish me at all, basically for doing my job as an officer. The quite "it doesn't matter what you said, it's you that is the problem" should hint that something is wrong, and not necessarily on my end.

    That is definitely the case. Even though I am a core member, and currently one of the veteran members of the guild, this other player had brought herself (and she is a skilled healer) and a couple of other good people to the guild. I can understand if the choice between me and those seemed simple, especially since he didn't think he was asking me for much. But I don't agree with the way it was handled.

  6. It is amazing how something that is supposed to be fun can sometimes be complicated because people get offended by the littlest things.

    I would have stepped aside as a trainer like you did, for the good of the team, but I would have still put my 2 cents in.

    After all, the reason they wanted you as a trainer was because you most likely where putting in your 2 cents and they liked it.

    If someone else didn't like it, that is their problem, not yours.

    I heard a great line once but I do not recall where or what it was from.

    If you are a leader and everyone likes you that means you are not doing your job right.

  7. Yo Alex,
    One of the helpers sent me this link:P

    First of all great story and very well written.

    But i just had to add few parts of the story as it seemed a bit subjective:

    1.Sandra wasnt the only one complaining, Harry was as well and even Potter and few others (ofc also Bubble that you constantly attacked for not using shoes) were complaining about your attitude.

    As a rule ALL my helpers are people that are loved and accepted by all the football team. There will be one guy they hate and thats me. For example Sandra was supposed to be helper - she is not anymore, you know Willow the new defender? he is doing great job and was supposed to be promoted - not anymore, same reason.

    2. I think you forgot to write that during one of the games you decided to put the goal keeper as forward. After i asked you to change that (all others as well as it just didnt make sense) you just wrote "fu coach, if you dont like my setting, do them yourself". It brought alot of needless tension to the group and i had to also sort that department on top of other things. Sorry that not a good helper atittude, especially when it is obviously wrong.

    3.You didnt told Sandra "ignore it, its just misunderstanding", no it was more of the like "be carfull that she wont try to kick you off the team" - which i think was AWESOME response btw.

    I think you read into your locker moving more than it was. It wasnt because of the threats, on the opposite - the threats were that we kick you off the team or they leave and we actually chose you, a player with alot of friends in a different team that might leave every second and told them they are free to leave because we dont respond well to threats, and we didnt think it was fair. However as i wrote earlier - i dont want any helpers that have issues with others. Im the only one that will be hated and im sure i am.


    Head Trainer and Coach


  8. @Holas
    Hi Holas! :D
    Yes, this story is very subjective, unfortunately there is no other way for me to tell it. Even if I might come out as the hero and you the villain, my point was rather that weird stuff happen in guilds and they can turn out rather funny sometimes - like this thing.

    Yeah, I did tell "Sandra" that she should hope that "Emma" doesn't ask for her to be kicked ;) I hoped it was a subtle hint that she was just experiencing exactly what she had done to me - as I mentioned in the text. I have no idea what she really said to you of course, and when I asked who was bothered you only mentioned her name - so my bad if there really were more people who were annoyed. And I still don't know what I said. Sandra told me herself it was a "feeling" she had. Considering she afterwards actually turned to me for advice (although I am the evil bully?), I don't think she really meant anything bad, and this whole thing was blown out of proportion, which it shouldn't have. But again, I don't know what was said, and probably never will, although I am the centre figure of the drama. As they say - everyone knows the monkey, but the monkey knows no one.

    On the bright side, drama has subsided and we will kick Nefarians ass!

  9. Read it all, including Holas' additionally comments. And well, Holas and the other trainers got it wrong. Way to throw a longtime guildie under the bus in the name of progression.

    Raiders who don't fit can always be replaced, and quickly. The feelings hurt will take a lot longer. Sure you kept the raid team going by not losing a few newer members, but at the expense of Zinn and the overall feel of the team and guild.