Why I Intentionally Dropped in on Someone

Ahhhh… Fall has finally arrived. I actually don’t mind putting on the rubber – the wetsuit that is. The crowds have gone home for the summer, even though it seems like my home break is getting more crowded. But I can still find my own peak close by.

I’ve been staying positive, and I swear that that’s been attracting good waves to me.

Today I paddled out during high tide. I like catching the inside sections which jack up at the last second. Plenty of steep, late take off practice. On a few rides, I make the section, barely scratching to the shoulder. Because of the tide, I gracefully pull out of every ride, going gently off the back of the wave, its crest bringing me back down gently.

I’m having an incredibly fun fall day. Water temp is a cool and refreshing 65 degrees with chest high waves. I have the break to myself for an hour until I spot three neighborhood girls paddle over. They are all beginners.

Before I recognize who they are, for a few seconds I feel annoyed that I no longer will enjoy the break to myself. But when I realize these girls are stoked to be in the water and they’re friends of mine, I thank God for their presence.

I’m giving the girls pointers, which they are grateful for. I let some perfect peelers pass by in hopes they will catch it and effortlessly flow down the line.

After an hour, the girls paddle back in. It’s a little on the bigger side for them to handle.

So I’ve been out for two hours when a couple of Yahoos paddle and line up right next to me. Evidently, the two didn’t notice the hundreds of yards of open water on both sides of me.

A set wave forms. I paddle about 15 yards outside to set up. I whip my board around when all of a sudden one of the Yahoos sets up less than two feet from me. What does he think this is a surf contest?

He is on my right and calls out that he’s going left. He has the inside position and starts left. I also paddle for the wave and drop in right on him. He wipes out and I kick out the back side.

“You dumb shit!” he shouted at me. “Didn’t you hear me say left?”

Now, I could have done a few things. I could have told him that I didn’t hear him. I also could have told him to go piss off for setting up right next to me.

Instead, I thought I’d pull a fast one on him. I look him right in the eye and with my pointer finger, I point to my ear and in the best auditory-challenged accent I can muster, I say to him, “I can’t hear.”

That was the end of that conversation. The two of us kept our space for the next 45 minutes I was out.

You always think of the best thing to say after the fact. In retrospect, it would have been wise of me to have been more authentic instead of lying that I couldn’t hear.

Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of Non-Violent Communication, also referred to by some as Compassionate Communication, may have coached me to say and do the following:

First of all, I probably should have just let him catch the wave without intentionally dropping in on him, despite the encounter being very funny to me.

And when he paddled back out to the pseudo-lineup, I would have said to him”

“I noticed on that wave you set up right next to me. I felt irritated and angry that you set up right next to me. I have a need for personal space, so I’m requesting of you in the future to please not set up right next to me. Do you understand?”

Chances are, he might have told me to piss off, but at least I would have gotten my point across in a non-confrontational way.

When I tell my friends what happened they laugh at the punchline, how I pretended to be a deaf-mute.

I’m glad I made my friends—and myself—laugh; but my higher self, the one who wants to spread the peace-making speech reprogramming tool of Non Violent Communication, was suppressed.

Next time—and when the surf is as crowded as it is here, there will be a next time—something like this happens, I’ll be armed with NVC skills, not sarcasm.

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