A few weeks ago, my tennis coach asked if I am the type of person who creates drama or if drama just finds me. As much as it pained me, his question was totally justified. In the four years since I started taking lessons from him, I’ve dated (and broken up with) an emotionally abusive alcoholic. I quit a job because of a psychotic boss. I broke my back, said I was moving to L.A., ended up staying in SF, got in four jillion fights with my mother, was hit by a car, and that’s just the beginning.
Long story long: I’m pretty sure he’d never had four police officers show up to a tennis lesson until he started teaching me. (I’m also pretty sure that last part shouldn’t totally make me happy, but whatever.)
The thing is: I’ve actually made a concerted effort this year to minimize the drama. I vowed not to overreact to people. To argue only when necessary and to do so calmly. To not be so sensitive. To let things go. To never ever throw a beer on someone at a football game. I mean, I’m far from Zen, but I’m working on it.
Which is why I totally don’t get all of these jerks trying to ruin 49ers’ games for me. The new calm me! The me who doesn’t call people names. Or tell them to go back where they came from. Or (ugh, cannot believe I did this) call them ugly. The me who just shows up, roots for her team, and goes home. If I believed in God, I’d think this was a test, but I don’t (I think) and so instead, I’m just starting to think 90 percent of the football game-watching population are total assholes.
Take for example the woman (and season ticket holder) who sits two rows ahead of me. A few weeks ago, she accused me and Campfriend of throwing beer bottles at her. First of all: WHAT? I honestly don’t even get it. Which is basically what I said to her, except I actually just promised her that not only were we NOT throwing beer bottles at her, but that we would never do such a thing. Because I am the new calm Daisy and what’s the point in (over)reacting to someone who is clearing hallucinating?
Fast forward 30 minutes and she turned around and accused us of doing it again. At this point, I’d seen nary a beer bottle flying through the air, so I truly did not get the allegation, but then it hit me:
She was referring to the empty beer bottles that were rolling down the stadium steps and landing at her feet.
Now, not that it even matters, but those empty beer bottles at her feet? THEY ALSO WEREN’T OURS. But who cares? They’re empty beer bottles. It’s a windy stadium. Kick ‘em out of your way and enjoy the fact that the 49ers are playing great football for the first time since the 1990s.
Or, dwell on it. Whichever!
Sadly for everyone in our section, crazy lady chose the latter. And by “everyone in our section,” I mostly mean Campfriend because at some point during the third quarter, another beer bottle rolled down to the woman’s feet and she picked it up, screamed, “STOP THROWING BOTTLES AT ME!” and hurled it at him.
But instead of screaming back at her (old Daisy), I walked down to her seat and commenced a heart-to-heart. I calmly explained the situation. Said I just wanted everyone to enjoy the game. Finally got her to apologize. Because THAT'S what I want to take the time to do when my team is demolishing Tampa Bay 48-3.
This week, a family of five with two young kids paraded into the seats behind us during the National Anthem. When the final notes ended, I remained standing, taking in the gorgeous sunny day, the excited fans, and the players on the field.
And then I heard the 50-something woman behind me talking very loudly to her four-year-old grandchild.
“I DON’T KNOW WHY SHE’S STANDING, BUT DON’T WORRY, WE’LL TELL HER TO SIT DOWN.”
Knowing that I often have to spend the entire first quarter on my feet due to the constant stream of people in the aisle that I can’t see over, I turned around and politely said, “Hey, just so you know? I actually stand up a lot during the game.”
The woman didn’t even give me a chance to explain that I was just offering this information in case she wanted to move the kids around and have them switch seats with their parents or something. Rather, she just looked at me with disgust and barked back, “You can’t stand the entire game.”
“No, I’m not going to stand the entire game. I just stand a lot. I just wanted to give you the head’s up so—"
“YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO STAND FOR THE ENTIRE GAME. I WORK FOR THE NFL.”
“Right. AS I JUST SAID: I’m not going to stand the entire game. I just wanted to let you know that I stand a lot."
"Well that's not allowed."
"OK. Well, it's a football game. So I'm just letting you know that I'm going to stand. On third downs. For touchdowns..."
And then I realized I was doing exactly what I promised myself I wouldn’t do. So I said, “Just wanted to let you know,” (possibly with raised eyebrows and a look of annoyance) and turned back around.
“JERK,” the woman said.
I wish this were the part of the story where I tell you I stuck to my guns and totally ignored her, but instead…
“DID YOU JUST CALL ME A JERK? SERIOUSLY? ALL I SAID WAS I STAND UP A LOT. IT’S A FOOTBALL GAME—“
“Well you’d better not stand up. I WORK FOR THE NFL."
At which point, I regained my composure, turned around, sat down in my seat, and told Campfriend that I was just going to ignore her. No matter what.
Which was hard to do when I heard her say to her four-year-old grandchild, “She’s a VERY mean person.”
Because you know what’s super healthy? Telling a four-year-old that the girl dressed as 49ers Supergirl? She’s an asshole. Because THAT won’t screw with the kid’s head.
But you know what else? It’s not my problem. So I watched the game. Jumped up when I wanted. High-fived everyone around me (except them). Cheered for the 49ers and smiled to myself when the family left in the third quarter to beat traffic.
Because the thing is: I can’t change other people. I can’t make them kind or reasonable or polite. The only person in the whole world I can change is me. I can stop the drama instead of starting it. I can smile at the bus driver who's clearly having a crappy day. I can tell the opposing fan I hope they have a good game. I can bite my tongue even when I have a comeback that would slay my opponent. I can walk away and not hold a grudge.
I have a long way to go, believe you me. But the important part, I think, is that I'm working on it. Plus: being the bigger person? It feels pretty amazing...
Almost as amazing as getting the last word.