One of my earliest derby memories is my coach pulling me aside and telling me I needed to get in touch with my inner aggression. He told me to focus on something that made me angry and use it. My response to him was I’ve been thanking people for their trash for 18 years so it might be hard for me. But wait…..that should really piss me off. So I used it.
I’ve been a flight attendant for 22 years and while I am paid to be a gracious hostess at work I was expected to be an aggressive blocker at derby.
A lot of derby players dislike the day job vs derby persona comparison but for me it is the incredible difference in the two groups of women I spend most of my time with.
Flight attendants have this thing we call jumpseat therapy in which by the time it takes to taxi, takeoff and wait for the seatbelt sign to go off you know the life story of the person sitting next to you. Are they married? In the midst of a divorce? Where do they live? If their kid is sick and who watches their dog when they fly.
By the end of a 3 day trip we have solved child care issues, marital/relationship problems and exchanged recipes. The most interesting thing is that I may or may not ever fly with these girls again.
Derby girls are a little different.
Derby girls are a little quieter. A little harder to get to know. After all, we are competing against each other in a full contact sport. Practice leaves little time for small talk. You find out about each other by the action on the track. We watch each other for strengths and weaknesses.
Someone who is your league mate and scrimmage partner tonight may be your opponent next week in a bout. Regardless, afterward we will all go out for beers and dance together at the after party.
Before Facebook come along I never knew a lot of my league mates’ real names. People would ask me if I knew so-and-so who plays, but if they didn’t know her skater name I was at a loss.
In my fifth year of derby and my third with the Atlanta Rollergirls and I still didn’t know what a lot of the girls do for a living, where they live or their relationship status.
That is just fine with me because I know when I am on the track and they are on my team, they have my back and I have theirs. When we are opposing teams in a bout it is no holds barred. And afterwards we will go out and laugh and dance and have a beer.
And I may never know their story, not like the other group of women in my life. But I know what I need to know about them and it is all good.
I wouldn’t change a thing about either of the groups of women in my life. They both make me who I am and help me understand myself better. But just give me a minute to transition so I don’t hip check the guy who keeps putting his briefcase in the aisle and so that I hit my way out of the pack and don’t say “excuse me” as I try to get through. (and yes, I actually did this)