Words on the Water

Just to be clear, when I told a few friends that I had a near-collision with a guy who looked a lot like LibTech founder Mike Olson, I was unaware that the reason he looked like Mike Olson is that he is Mike Olson.

And it was, apparently, not a near-collision.

The incident is another reminder of the schizophrenic nature of life; and, just to complicate matters, the way things appear different from different perspectives.

SCHIZ- I was feeling really good about the whole afternoon session, other than the bailout I had to do to avoid hitting someone in the impact zone. Two days later, when I was told that my board had, indeed, come in contact with someone quite popular ’round these parts, someone I had allegedly burned two years earlier, and that I now had two strikes against me… WAIT! WHAT! Two strikes and then what?

Anyway, I was upset enough to try to reach out to Mr. Olson. After I discovered it’s really difficult to reach Mike in person, I sent an email to his company explaining the situation, how I didn’t think my board had hit him at the time, how I never intend to hurt anyone in surfing. I also contacted several people who might be able to pass on my side of the story, and two surfers who worked for LibTech in the past. One of them responded, the other still hasn’t. Okay. I understand. One must pick a side.

PERSP- From the beach, for the folks around the fire or leaning against their surf rigs, it, evidently appeared as if I was going across a wave, had plenty of room to surf past one person inshore of me, but, when I couldn’t get past the second, I bailed, fell on and grabbed my board.

This is also how the ride seemed from my angle, the wave probably bigger in my version. BUT NO; my board evidently popped up, spinning, high in the air, and came down and into contact with Mr. Olson. THEN we had words, WORDS ON THE WATER. My words were louder. AGAIN, this is true. I did say, loudly, something about paddling around, then I did apologize, mostly for getting angry. Then we both paddled back out and resumed surfing. SO, Yeah, from a certain angle, I am a villain; not that this substantially changes my reputation.

Or adds to it.

RESOLUtion- So one of the former LibTech employees did reach out to Mrs. Olson on social media, and, by chance, also surfed with her several days after the INCIDENT. She told Reggie it was sweet that I was concerned, and that her husband had received the email, and that he had been hit in the elbow and may never surf again.

NO, not really. It was one of those accidents that happen in surfing. I have been on both sides of the situation. I have bailed out, straightened out, pulled out to avoid contact. Scrapping at Swamis back in the late 60s, hoping someone will fall off on a wave I could catch, I have incurred the wrath of surfers because I affected their rides. Negatively. Or they believed I affected their rides.

I have been hit in the impact zone by other surfer’s boards in my extended surfing life. The most damaging of these incidents was at Pipes, early 70s. I was paddling out, casually. A guy who could have easily made the wave was losing it on the takeoff. I was going to go under the wave rather than try to make it over the shoulder. This is proper. Sure, I thought, he’ll have to straighten. I adjusted my paddle accordingly. NOPE, he regained his balance at the bottom of the wave, saw me at the last second, then bailed, me trying to turn turtle with a Marvel Comic perspective of a surfboard coming fully sideways and straight at me. FULL BODY CONTACT. Ow. Yeah, he and I had words. Words on the water, something like “Oh, did I hit you?” “Yeah.”

SO, when I was relating the story to a woman considering opening a card shop in Port Townsend, several days after the incident was apparently smoothed over (thanks Dina and Mike), feeling kind of, um, normal (that phase between elation/mania and depression), she, Helen, said, “Oh, ‘words on the water,’ that could be the name of your new cards.”

MAYBE. Meanwhile, paddle around when you can; bail when you have to.

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