If you have advertised yourself to the world at large as a huge Detroit Red Wings fan–or a fan of any sports team, for that matter–you may understand my pain. It’s that sinking feeling you get in your stomach when your team loses and you know you have to walk into work the next morning and hear any variation of the following from coworkers:
“What happened to your team last night?”
“Man, they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.”
“I blame you for that loss.”
Back up a second, random coworker! I may be a superstitious hockey fan (only when it comes to the playoffs), but I am smart enough to know that my presence in this world does not actually affect gameplay. You hear me discuss this team as if I was one of them, saying “we” or “us” instead of “them” and assume that I am crazy and will believe you when you tell me I’m at fault.
And then they stand there in your cubicle or in your office and stare at you. And maybe they smile because they think they’re being funny. Or maybe they just keep staring at you, waiting for your response.
What are you supposed to say? Let’s look at how I handled it on Monday.
The Red Wings lost to the Boston Bruins on Saturday night. Apparently they did so astoundingly. I sat in my cubicle, ten minutes into the work day, still trying to understand why my two sips of coffee have yet to wake me up when a coworker stops at my cubicle and says, “Man, what happened to your boys on Saturday?”
I turned around, holding my hands up as if he were arresting me, and say, “I was at a wedding. I saw none of the game. I couldn’t even listen to it on the radio.”
“Oh, so then I’m going to blame you for their loss,” he joked.
Yes, because one loss three games into the season is going to cost us. Sure, blame me because I watched the first two games of the season, which we won, and then missed the third, which we lost. Naturally, because I did not watch the game, I am the sole reason we lost.
My time at Caribou Coffee was very much the same. I hated opening after playoff losses. All the morning regulars knew me as the crazy Red Wings fan. They relied on me to tell them what happened in games and give my opinion on everything. So after any loss, I dreaded those early morning hours where I already had difficulty being perky.
On top of being sleepy, I have to put up with nearly every customer asking me why the Red Wings suck. One loss does not designate their suckiness, laypeople! Even if it is the playoffs!
Maybe this is the cost of advertising your love for something. Maybe it’s better that people question my role in the whole organization rather than be pointlessly angry at someone like Mike Babcock for keeping Tomas Tatar as a healthy scratch or Johan Franzen for being Johan Franzen.
But how many times can I answer the question of what’s ailing the Red Wings? Or answer why they lost? Why do people question why I’m not jumping on the ice out of the stands to block someone from scoring a goal? Why am I not the one calling the shots on trades? Why am I not the one making the roster decisions?!
If I had the answer to every single problem the Red Wings faced, do you really think I would be here in this cubicle? Or serving you coffee at six in the morning? No. I would be tracking down Ken Holland or Mike Babcock and telling them how to make our team perfect and indestructible and win us seven Stanley Cups in a row. Because that’s completely realistic and where my career is headed.
Alas, I am but one of millions of similar hockey fans afflicted with a love for a team that laypeople seem to think I have some control over. And I can assure you, I am not the only one who fields these kinds of questions.