April 10, 2001

impending doom

I am in deep shit. I think.

If I havenít mentioned it before, I coach rowing, as well as doing it myself. T and I will be teaching Beginner and Intermediate classes on weekends, starting in two weeks. I hadnít gotten checked out on the new coaching launches, since they arrived shortly before I left for MA, so I called up Coach DI and arranged to do that yesterday evening.

I got there in time to see the last half hour of the Juniorsí class, including not only rowing but calisthenics enough to make me glad Iím not in high school any longer. After they were done, DI completely reamed them out for being soft and having a lackadaisical attitude (mispronouncing "lackadaisical" in the process). Like kids in a strict ballet or martial arts class, they seemed to thrive on it, actually, but that lecture should probably have clued me in that he was in a bad mood. Heís been crabby lately anyhow, probably overworked and burnt out.

They finally finished, and before we went down to the launch, I pointed out that someone elseís boat was tied down on my slings (just cheap camp-stools). This is a problem partly in case I want to use them and partly because itís not safe. The boat could easily be blown over in a high wind, and rowing shells are fragile as well as expensive. There are other slings there, but theyíre also private property.

That apparently was the wrong thing to say. As soon as we were out of earshot of anyone else, Coach DI ripped in to me. Apparently I hurt his feelings, because (he said) the last several times I have seen him, I have complained about something he has done, or rather not done, without even saying "Hello" first.

Two of those issues are that he owes me a shirt, to replace one I lent to a cox from another club who coxed a boat of ours (that I wasnít in) in a race) and a jacket, because the one he ordered for me is way too big. These are low priority to him, and rightly so, but Iíve been waiting for both for quite a few months now, and anyway, I donít really believe I should have to keep track of other peopleís priorities. If you said youíd do something, youíre supposed to do it, in at least a reasonable period of time.

Of course, anything I said only made him angrier and increased the volume. DIís one of those people who canít brook disagreement, when once heís gotten mad. He asked if he had ever treated me disrespectfully until now, and of course, I couldnít think of specific instances, while standing there under fire.

After my last boss, another screamer, quit, I swore I would not allow myself to be yelled at again, by anyone who didnít have the right to do so.

Now, in mitigation: itís greatly to DIís credit that he at least waited to start bellowing until there was no one else around. Itís also good that after all the yelling, he was able to calm down and answer some other questions I had. My former boss would not have been so considerate, on either count. And DI claims that it was I who ordered the jacket in a medium instead of small. Given my size, this seems unlikely, unless I was told they didnít make smalls, but it is possible. Finally, the bit about my addressing concerns (though I do it politely) before even saying hello is true, and I finally figured out why while I was fuming last night. Generally, I have to wait for quite a while to get to talk to him, there are often several people trying to do the same. Also, he has a tendency to wander off and go talk to someone else while Iím trying to talk to him, so I do tend to get right to the problem and speak fast. (This applies even to, say, questions about coaching, not just to things affecting only me.) Speaking of "acting disrespectfully"....

These explosions happen every few months, and I am fucking sick and tired of them. The upshot is, I wrote him an e-mail last night, as formal and polite as I could make it. I ran it by T, who is generally calm and opposed to confrontation, and even he agreed it was the right thing to do. From memory, it was something like this:

I am writing this e-mail because, frankly, I canít think clearly when someone is screaming at me. You may call this cowardice if you like; I donít much care. The answer to your question is yes, you have treated me with disrespect; you yell at me about every two months. When I put myself in your class, I give you implicit permission to run the class however you see fit. If I donít like it, I can always leave. Outside of class, however, you do not have the right to yell at me. It is neither pleasant nor productive. Please donít do it again.

I will endeavor to accept, gracefully, any constructive criticism that is offered to me in a civilized manner.

I did go to rowing this morning, just to show my face, but we didnít go out because of wind. Anyway, DI generally checks his mail about once a day, during business hours, so he probably hadnít seen it yet.

I expect an explosion sometime later today.

Posted by dichroic at April 10, 2001 09:31 AM
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