Can I Sit with You?

No-Win Scenario
March 19, 2008, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

A. A. Matin
10 yrs old at the time

Gym Class. Most people’s memories seem to revolve around dodgeball. While I have been hit with and pelted many a classmate with those red rubber balls, my most vivid memory is of another game: Capture the Flag.

In the fifth grade there was about fifty of us and the gym teacher set up the game on a huge soccer field. In order to compensate for the size of the field, both teams had three flags. Early in the class my friend Pasquale and I decided to run across together and capture one flag and then throw it back and forth to each other as we ran back.

We made a break for it. I snagged the flag and turned around. I looked over to Pasquale who was running with me. Then I looked ahead and saw a straight shot back to our side. I didn’t even think about tossing it. I just booked as fast as I could and we made it back. I apologized to Pasquale for not throwing it to him. He didn’t care because we got the flag and were not tagged.

Later on someone got the idea for a bunch of people to run over at once and have an ambush with the hopes that one person could break through. I didn’t think it was a good plan — but went with it. They were prepared and set up their defense to ambush the crowd and captured us all.

The “holding pen” was a pole on the edge of the playing field. And we were allowed to string ourselves together by holding hands to form a chain. So many of us were caught that we almost extended all the way onto our half of the field. Then one of our team mates could safely tag the person at the end and free us all. Some guys took their shirts off so that they and the next person in line could hold onto each end to make the chain longer.

I refused to take my shirt off. I was very skinny and very self-conscious about my body. I did not feel comfortable and knew I would be picked on and ridiculed. But it did not matter. My entire team turned against me for refusing to take off my shirt.

Everyone was upset and saying that I was not a team player and refusing to help. The fact that I had captured a flag was inconsequential to them.

I didn’t want to get insulted for being skinny. Instead I got insulted for not being a helpful team player by taking my shirt off. Most would call that a “no-win” scenario. But this is not the case. No one else was able to capture any flags. We won the game. And it was all because of me. It may have been lost on them — but I still remember it 25 years later.


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