Well that was really interesting. I wrote my previous blog as we were cruising down the river. To be honest, Captain Dink was making comments throughout that writing which were really irritating me and helping give me some practice to repeat my newfound mantra over and over.
CD asked me to take over steering so that he could phone a marina. I’ve been steering nearly every day for the last two weeks so I’m not a novice. I haven’t driven down a river since I was a child and of course the rules are very different to sea rules, but there are some things that are common sense and related. Anyway, we were going down river in a very fast current. I was steering rather well, or so I thought. Of course I was going a bit drunk like because it was the first time I had been in current so strong in this boat, but there were no other boats so I was ok. CD puts the phone down and says, “Jesus Christ! What have you been doing? You’re going to turn the boat sideways and then we’re going to lose all control and crash into the riverbank.” I found this quite dramatic since at no point was I steering the boat any more than 20 degrees off to one side. He came barrelling over, grabbed the wheel from my hand and corrected us, or should I say overcorrected us with his unnecessary panic.
I calmly said that I was doing what he taught me to do yesterday and that if there was a new technique, can he please show me with patience as I’m still learning. I said there was no need to swear. His response was that he never swears and when I said, “Jesus Christ,” he said, “That’s not a swear word.” I remained silent. Then the cook/stew came up and sat next to me. I started telling her how I read the oven manual and am now an expert in Miele ovens so I will show her what I learned. I was looking straight ahead and not at her. At the same time I saw a huge barge coming in the other direction, CD said in a very angry aggressive tone, “Ok. Now there’s a big barge coming…” He didn’t finish because I interrupted him and said that he makes me very nervous when I’m driving because he has to comment on every little thing I do or don’t do. He started arguing with me saying that if he can’t say anything to me, there’s no point in me driving. I explained calmly (for I still had my yoga glow going) that he can simply say, “Do you see the boat coming?” or tell me to move to a different side of the river. I was already as far over as I could be, so really there was no need to panic and talk aggressively.
He stood up and said, “Ok, I’m going to take over.” I replied, “As you wish.” I sat for a few minutes and then explained to him that I may never have been a river barge driver before, but I worked on charters where I was steering in a busy channel with 15 people around asking me questions. I said I can see a big barge coming my way because I am paying attention as I was looking forward, not at who I was talking to. I told him that he is very aggressive when he tells me things and that it’s unnecessary. Before he could say anything, I said, “And I know you’re going to say you’re not aggressive, but you are.” Then I finished by saying, “or since this job is for only two more months, maybe I should just shut my mouth and deal with it.”
Captain Dink remained in silence for hours, only talking when necessary during a manoeuvre.
I was starting to feel quite bad about my conversation and internalised it thinking maybe it’s me that just needs to chill out. That’s his personality so instead of trying to change it, I should just keep on working on ways to deflect negative energy. He’s not coming to me as a psychologist, so I should just keep my opinion to myself and find my own way of managing his at times very disrespectful behaviour. I quickly negated that thinking because actually he treats everyone that way and it would help him make friends if he could see his own behaviour.
Then the weirdest thing happened. When I asked him if he wanted the line on the port or starboard side, he paused a while then said, “Sorry, I had to think a minute which side was which.” I smiled and stopped myself from hugging him. That was the first time he had ever shown any vulnerability. It got weirder… He asked us what we were doing for dinner. If we were going to eat out or eat in. I said, “I don’t know, what do you think?” He said very timidly with a slight smile, “Oh no! Don’t do that. Answer a question with a question.” I laughed and said, “I said I don’t know first, isn’t that an answer?” He smiled and we all had a discussion about what we wanted to do. The cook/stew and I exchanged a surprised glance. For the first time in a week, we all ate dinner together. For the first time since we started working together, we had a conversation where he didn’t one up the story and he actually asked questions. If I didn’t believe in yoga before, I sure do now!!
CD asked us if we wanted to go for a drink that evening. I was waiting for a phone call and on the laptop with my Dad trying to recover my external hard drive which suddenly became unreadable (and has 12 years of photos). I said that I would just finish up what I was doing and I would be ready to go. With a sad look, he said he would go there and sit by himself. The boat was parked on the same dock as the restaurant so he went down and shouted up to us, “Hey, if I’m not back by midnight, just toss a blanket down!” He looked so vulnerable and nervous. I explained to my Dad that I would really like to go so maybe we could do the recovery later. At the same time I was writing that message, I received the expected phone call. I had a quick chat and went to the bar with the cook/stew to meet him.
The three of us had a nice evening together. He was still sharing his stories, but they had a different light to them. He was listening to our stories and asking questions. He was even bent over with laughter at one point. Any guilty feelings I had disappeared. This is exactly what life is about. Sometimes people are so lost they don’t know how to, or can’t, ask for help. Some don’t want it and it’s not worth the energy. That’s ok, eventually they will find their way. But as human beings, it’s our responsibility to stand up for our right to be treated with respect, show kindness to others no matter how they treat us and give some people a different perspective that may just help make bring some more peace to their lives.