A couple of years ago, I told the story of when I learned not to be “That Guy”.
The short version is that I was standing at an ATM when someone was hit by a car, and being EMT certified at the time, I was going to finish up my transaction and go attend to the gentleman – basically hold him still and ask questions while someone called 9-1-1. In the couple of seconds it took for me to retrieve my card and turn around, there was already another fella doing exactly that, in as calm a manner as I could have or better. So, looking around to see a light crowd already forming, I figured it was best to leave rather than further congest the scene. However, there was one dude, who was hellbent on involving himself. He had long hair, sandals, and a loose backpack, and he was throwing himself at cars on the insistence that traffic in the area needed to stop. He even tried chasing one down the road in those dorky-ass sandals to get his point across.
Moral of the story: If there’s no meaningful way you can contribute to the resolution of a situation, then the best thing you can do is not get in the way. But whatever you do, don’t be that guy.
Well, a couple of months ago, I mean a new Guy.
We were in Texas visiting my fiancee’s parents, and one of our days there was spent going to her cousin’s college basketball game. Now, I’d been to basketball games before – heck I’d been in a couple – but they had all been high school level or lower. I didn’t really see any reason why a collegiate basketball game would be any different.
Boy howdy, was I ever wrong, sorta.
It was a home game for Amanda’s cousin, and as the visiting team is getting introduced, it’s a pretty ho-hum affair. “Introducing first, Point Guard for the Wherever They’re From Raptors or Something, #5, Jimmy What’s-his-Butt.” You got a weak smattering of applause from what sparse crowd there was, and this repeated for the other four starting players. But when they started introducing the Home team…
The lights when down, spotlights began tracing the arena, music blared, and the announcer turned their mic way the hell up. It was like we got teleported straight to the middle of an NBA scrimmage game or something, and the announcer’s bias was…well, he wasn’t hiding it.
“Now, welcome to the court – he’s lean, he’s mean, he’s a divine blend of American steel and sex appeal, hung like a horse and has got a bright future – your Point Guard of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Cruuuuusaaaaadeeeers, #11! Johnny “God-Given” Griffin!!”
It was nuts.
The game was pretty great, too. Fast, competitive. A fun affair all around.
But the whole time the teams battled back and forth, I couldn’t help notice one guy. He was a spectator like us, older, and was sitting courtside beside one of the hoops in a fold-out chair with a straight posture and his arms crossed in front of him the whole time. He must have been someone’s grandpa or coach or something. Maybe he had a lot of money riding on the game, I don’t know, but he was less watching the game for fun and more examining the game with the intensity of a diving eagle.
Good thing he was, too, because while the offense was on his side of the court, a pass went wide and rocketed his way. And when I say “rocketed”, I do mean that this basketball crossed space with the speed of a bullet, and it flew straight at Coach Intense Eagle Grandpa.
This guy…doesn’t even flinch.
And he probably does kung fu.
This basketball flies at his face with enough speed to challenge the sound barrier, and in the half-moment it takes for the ball to reach him, his hands are out in front of him catching it a few inches from his nose. It was like when the hero in a cheesy martial arts movie catches the sword between their palms. It was rad. He does this, holds it for a quarter-second, and bounce passes it back onto the court like nothing happened.
THAT’S the guy you want on your team, giving you advice, or setting an example when the shit hits the fan. When a situation arises, don’t be a Loose Backpack. Be an Eagle Grandpa.