Yesterday at pickleball a women told me about one of the other players calling out a teenager who was kicking his soccer ball into one of the pickleball nets. The player asked the kid to stop but he refused and continued booting his ball into the net. She said things didn’t escalate but couldn’t believe how rude the kid was while being confronted about damaging the nets. The woman asked me what I would have done and in the moment I said, I would have told the kid off. I’m not sure why the story hit me the way it did or why exactly I felt the need to establish the fact that I would have taken such a hard line about someone damaging the facility’s equipment but I’m sure it was part of what set me up for what happened next.
So today at pickleball, I got into a row with a different teenager. Two teenagers, actually, but one more than the other. The kid rubbed me the wrong way with our first interaction. He strolled listlessly through our court and in front of me as I was about to serve. We all shared a “what’s up with this guy” look. The teenager went on to meet with a buddy beside our court and each commenced bouncing a tennis ball off the wall. After a missed bounce came near our court my partner politely asked if they would take the bouncing balls someplace else. They pretended to agree but then immediately continued bouncing balls off the walls next to our court. After a short spell my partner once again asked them if they would mind going someplace else because their bouncing balls were distracting and coming into our play area. They said that they were waiting for their turn to play volleyball on this court. My partner asked if they would mind going to an empty court in the meantime? One of the boys acquiesced to go, but I guess the other one talked him into staying because in that very moment they resumed bouncing their tennis balls. I clenched my teeth.
More time passed and the fact that they agreed to leave but then just stayed was hitting a nerve. I went over and explained to him why we wanted them to move and asked him to please go. He told me no. I started to repeat the word please a few times, each time adding more emphasis and feeling a little more agitated and then quite loudly asked him to go to the empty court. He wouldn’t have any of it. At this point I was feeling heated and I told him to take a hike. I guess the point got through because they finally moved on. They still didn’t head over to the empty court but at least they were no longer throwing balls against the wall next to our court.
When I finished my match Andrea asked me if I told somebody to, “take a hike”? She seemed amused and later commented how she thought it was so out of character for me to have an interaction like that even when she agreed, the kid deserved it.
A worker at the facility came over and asked us if we had told someone to leave our court. Even knowing that those kids had no right to be bothering us I wondered if I was somehow going to be in trouble. The other player said yes we did and the employee said no problem but next time just come get him and he’ll get them to move.