Friday, July 20, 2007

No reward is worth this

As some of you know, I ref hockey games. Or, more accurately, I ref “hockey” games. Sometimes it’s roller hockey, but more often it’s dek hockey.

The missing C is intentional – it stands for Class, a substance totally unknown to a few of the players. They curse and whine every time anything goes against them. They think that they never commit any penalties whatsoever, and loudly demand penalties any time someone brushes into them. One can’t be a ref for very long without expecting and enduring such treatment.

Thing is, such a player can’t possibly be objective, and can’t begin to understand that they aren’t being objective. The ref is the one who has to do it for them, and they don’t like it, and they pitch tantrums like a three-year old hearing “NO” in the candy aisle.

My folks brought me up to be very polite, and tantrums were definitely Not Allowed – as in, “Report to your room immediately” and “I’ll be in shortly to paddle your buttocks.” Alas, this is not an option for the ref. It’s an uncrossable line: players do not lay hands on officials, and vice-versa. A ref may restrain a player while breaking up a fight, or get between people in an argument, and that’s it.

Well, this past week Mr. Unmentionable pole-vaulted that line.

You may recall Mr. U, though not by that name. I bawled him out in language not fit for mixed company, in fact. I was boiling over. Thing is, that miserable little puke does this sort of thing all the time. He’s the worst whiner I’ve ever seen on a rink. In this instance, his team took a penalty early, and for the rest of the evening my partner and I took a shower of the usual garbage – you missed a slash, that’s tripping, you’d call that on us, get your head out of your ass, you’re biased, you’re throwing the game for the other team… Yes, gentle readers, that is not unusual – we are actually told that, for $20 per game, we are intentionally trying to make a dek hockey team lose. But my favorite is Mr. U, on his way to the penalty box, telling me “You think you’re cops because you have a whistle” – the awesome power to influence a dek hockey game has gone to our heads! Today it’s two minutes, tomorrow it’s forced labor camps in the parking lot! Call the FBI!

Not surprisingly, the more crap someone dishes, the less they’re able to take. An angry-yet-reasonable person will stare in disbelief – but they’ll hear your explanation, even if they disagree. Ol’ Rumplestiltsken, however, will shriek, and then tell you to fuck off, asshole. I’ve taken this for ten years, when someone like Mr. U couldn’t take it for a month.

On top of that, I get the usual dose of the standard ribbing that men dish out in friendship: “You’re reffing? Aw crap.” Or, “Couldn’t you play goal instead so I can get a hat trick?” Or, “Cut your hair, you hippie.” Etc. Except that in my case, there’s that manners thing. So besides this, I get people who cross that line as well – who cut to draw blood, under cover of simply kidding around, and who treat me with no respect at all precisely because they know I’m not going to make an issue out of it. And really, life’s too short.

Mr. U, however, is a bit delusional. He thinks he can actually shove me on a rink while I’m trying to do my job. I’m not sure how long his suspension will be – the rest of the season sounds just to me – but there’s something more basic that’s on my mind. It’s not the shove, or his pathetic mewling, or even the assumption that any ghetto hockey league is worth all of this grief. It’s the contemptible attitude. I know that next week he’s going to show up despite that suspension and address me as if I were an idiot child, and not an adult. He’s going to come along with some jive about what I did wrong. If I do, by some miracle, get an apology, it will immediately be followed by “BUT” and a further lecture about how bad I am reffing, and what a piece of shit I am.

I’ll save him the trouble. Mr. Unmentionable can kiss my ass – and given his height, he won’t have to bend over to get there, either.

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