On being ... snubbed

On being … snubbed

By Ingrid Sapona

I think the last time I felt snubbed was in high school. Well, not counting a little incident that happened to me recently at my sail club…

I started this racing season crewing for Winston (not his real name, of course). This is the fourth season I’ve raced with him on Tuesday nights. One Tuesday morning in July Winston left a voice mail saying he decided to quit racing. He explained he was frustrated we haven’t been competitive (we can’t “make the podium”, as he put it) and he blamed the fact that his sails are old and baggy and he couldn’t afford new ones.

I was quite surprised with his decision. True, we hadn’t been doing well and his sails were worn to bits, but he loved racing and for him to give it up cold turkey, mid-season without so much as mentioning he had been thinking of quitting seemed unusual. That evening, just to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood the message, I went to the club at race time to check things out.

Winston was on his boat and gathered around him was the rest of the Tuesday night crew. When I got there I heard him reiterating his reasons and, from his response to different questions, it sounded like it had been a hard decision, but that it was final. So, we crewmembers either had to find other skippers, or we had to find something else to do on Tuesday evenings.

Later that week I contacted Ted (not his real name) -- a skipper I crewed for years ago -- to see if he might need crew. Turns out he had had difficulty finding crew to commit to Tuesday night races, so he was more than happy to have me and Mike (not his real name), another member of Winston’s Tuesday night crew. So, the following Tuesday, Mike and I joined Ted and we were -- as they say -- off to the races (again).

A few Tuesday later, as we were motoring out to the race course, I pointed out to Mike what looked like Winston’s boat headed out to the race course. When Ted heard us discussing it, he mentioned he heard Ted bought a new sail from the sailmaker Ted had bought one from last winter. Neither Mike nor I had heard anything about it. Sure enough, while we were having a post-race drink that evening, the sailmaker stopped to say hello to Ted. Apparently the sailmaker was at the club that evening to see how Winston’s new sail was working.

To say the least, Mike and I were surprised at that tidbit of information. After the sailmaker left, Mike and I joked about the lengths Winston had gone to get rid of us as crew -- I mean, really -- the whole ruse about not being able to afford a new sail and quitting racing seemed a bit much! Of course we were kidding around, but at the same time, we couldn’t help wonder who Winston had found to crew in our place.

The following Tuesday I think Ted breathed a sigh of relief when Mike and I showed up to race with him. Later that evening my suspicions were confirmed when Ted casually said he wondered if Winston might try to get us back to crew for him. Mike and I reassured Ted we wouldn’t leave him.

Though it’s been a couple weeks since Winston’s return to racing, I’ve not heard from him. Apparently Mike ran into him and when Mike asked if he got a new sail, Winston’s reply was simply, “yes”. Mike was too polite to ask him anything more, like who was crewing for him.

I have to admit, for awhile I felt a bit stung by the whole thing. I had believed Winston’s reasons for quitting and so the apparent change in circumstance, in a matter of weeks, seemed suspect. (Had Winston ordered the new sail before he took what amounted to as a four-week hiatus from racing? Perhaps, though sailmakers have been known to accommodate racers quickly mid-season.) All-in-all, the most bothersome thing is that Winston’s not said a word to me since the whole thing unfolded.

In thinking about it more, however, I came to realize it really doesn’t have anything to do with me and I shouldn’t take it personally. The way he made his decision, without regard for how his crewmembers might feel, should have been my hint that it is -- and always was -- about Winston. The fact that his behaviour impacted me -- and others -- didn’t matter.

Thankfully, unlike back in high school, when such incidences shook my self-confidence and left me with a nagging feeling that I’m not good enough -- now I see such situations for what they really are: a reflection of someone else’s social awkwardness. Ahhh, the wisdom of age… (By the way -- we’re doing well on Ted’s boat. Since we joined him, there’s only been one race when we haven’t “made the podium”.)

© 2010 Ingrid Sapona


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