Make It Happen

Monday, January 25, 2016

When I lived in Northern Virginia, I played soccer on a bunch of teams — at least two different co-ed teams and then a few different iterations of a women’s team, and lots of different tournament teams. It’s sort of a cult thing around there. Once you start playing with one team, you just keep getting sucked in.

The problem with being even a little bit organized is that you invariably get stuck being in charge of things. After a few years of playing on the main women’s team I played with, I ended up being made the organizer. Despite my protestations. And then we won our division and got moved up into the top division. So then I had to organize a much better team, which was significantly more challenging.

The season we moved up, the people in charge of the league decided to have a one-day pre-season tournament to get everyone ready to play. I was still trying to pull my team together, so this was a bit of a hurdle, but it seemed like we had everything together and we were pretty much ready. But then at the eleventh hour, the fields changed — instead of being out at the Linton Hall fields in Manassas, the games were moved to the Fort Belvoir fields in Alexandria.

Linton Hall and Fort Belvoir are nowhere near each other.

This was spring 1995. Some people in 1995 had cell phones, but normal people in 1995 did not have cell phones.

We did a phone tree (remember those?) to get the word to everyone, and it worked well. We managed to get in touch with all but one person — Michelle Verrier was the only person we couldn’t reach.

Michelle Verrier worked crazy hours and lived at her parents’ house. She had told us she couldn’t make the early game because she was taking a class, but she said she’d be there for the 2pm game. Her plan was to head straight for Linton Hall as soon as she got out of class.

Which was fine, except that now no one would be at Linton Hall when she got there.

When we tried to call her in the morning, she’d already left for class. Tegan, who was helping me with phone calls and had talked to Michelle’s dad, was like “Oh, too bad. Well at least we got everyone else. We did what we could.”

Michelle Verrier happened to be a really good player. And a really nice person. I’d only played with her a few times, but she was someone I definitely wanted to play on my team. On all of my teams in fact. The more teams I could play on with Michelle Verrier, the better.

But everyone else who ran a soccer team felt this same way. Michelle played with like 5 or 6 teams, but she wouldn’t commit to any of them, because her work schedule was so crazy. She would just play when she could.

I knew that if Michelle Verrier got out of class and hauled her butt out to Linton Hall, and when she got there all she found was a bunch of empty soccer fields, I would never see her at one of my games again.

This is what was running through my head when Tegan told me she hadn’t been able to get in touch with Michelle.

I told Tegan I needed more information.

I said, “Where is the class?” And I don’t know if she knew that, or if she had to call Michelle’s house again, but we found out that the class was at Georgetown. And my brother had gone to Georgetown, so I knew that area fairly well, and I knew that (at that time) there was only one main parking lot.

I said, “Find out what kind of car she has.”

So I got a description of the car — make, model, color, distinguishing bumper stickers (and it turned out it had a baby seat! it was her sister’s car, that would make it easier) — and headed to the Georgetown University parking lot.

I found the car.

I wrote a big note on a piece of paper:

MICHELLE — GAMES HAVE BEEN MOVED!!!
TO FORT BELVOIR!
SEE YOU 2PM

I put it under her windshield wiper and hoped for the best.

Now we had done what we could.

I went to the fields. We played the first game. We were sitting around waiting for the second game and I saw a player walking in our direction. It was Michelle!

I was so happy! I said, “You found us!!”

She said, “Oh my gosh, that was SO WEIRD to get to my car and have a note to me on it. How did you do that???”

And she played with us that season, and for the next two years, and after a year she told her other teams she couldn’t play with them anymore and just played with my team.

And I remember this as being one of the crowning achievements of my pre-cell phone days — getting a message to someone I barely knew by leaving a note on her car.

****

I was reminded of this story on Saturday, when I got a call from one of the people I work with, who was supposed to be going to a conference on Sunday. She said our other co-worker who was supposed to go with her was sick, and she herself wasn’t able to get out of her neighborhood because of the snow, so she thought we would have to cancel the trip to the conference, since neither of them could go.

And I was like, no. We paid for it, it’s important to be there, and there is just not enough snow to cancel this trip.

A similar situation occurred in 2010, we got hit with winter weather the weekend of this same conference. For that one, I was actually scheduled to attend the conference, but the person I was supposed to go with didn’t think it was safe to drive. I thought it would be fine, but I wasn’t going to make someone who didn’t feel safe go with me, so I went by myself.

It was fine.

So when I got the call on Saturday, it seemed like ultimately we might not be able to get there, but I decided before we cancelled, we should at least try to see if we could get something to work.

I hadn’t been out of the house in two days, so a walk over to the building didn’t seem like a bad idea, and I figured I could see how the roads looked, if people were able to drive and things looked icy or clear or what. And if things looked good, I could drive the van back to my house and then leave in the morning. Everything would be fine.

I walked over to the building, picked up the van and drove it home. We left for Charlotte in the morning. Everything was fine.

I feel like people sometimes give up and say they can’t do something before they’ve even tried to see if maybe they can. Because they’ve only thought of one option, the thing they would normally do, and that won’t work. So they think they’re done.

But really, people, you just need to keep thinking. Because maybe something else will work. You just need to think of it.

You just need to make it happen.

2 Responses to “Make It Happen”

  1. orinoco Says:

    Where I live, “can’t” most often means “don’t want to” or “I’d rather do something else.” Some women I know have told me straight out that they are very “indecisive” by which they mean they change their minds every five minutes. Literally! I tutor English and I have had a person call me and set up a session–and then call me back five minutes later and change both day and time. Cell phones can be a godsend, but if I had a nickel for every time someone bailed by text at the last minute, and then didn’t pick up when I called them right back, I’d be a rich woman. It’s just a lot easier to get out of something when they don’t have to actually talk to you (one of the prime reasons I don’t have Wassap.)

    When I was growing up there was a saying: If you want something done right and in a hurry, ask a busy woman. People who are accustomed to keeping their word and getting things done, get more done. The flip side of that, of course, is finding yourself loaded with all the weeny jobs nobody else wants to do but want to see done. I had to learn to say NO instead of just “shaking my head and saying yes”–and it almost killed me the first time. But I realised that people say no to me all the time and expect me to survive, so once in a while it’s okay for me to.

  2. lessisenough Says:

    One of my fantasy future worlds involves people saying, “Remember when cell phones first came out and everyone was on them ALL THE TIME, walking down the street and driving and everything? That was so crazy!” The way people today talk about boom boxes and Walkmans (Walkmen? Walkpeople?) and other ’80s obsessions. Or those pictures of people in the ’50s watching television on a tiny screen with all the lights off and everyone now saying ha ha that looks so funny.

    Someday…

    I think one of the reasons everything gets cancelled at the drop of a hat in bad weather is because people these days end up committed to a lot of things they don’t actually want to do. Snow days let them stay home, which is probably what they would rather be doing most of the time anyway, but they can’t, because they have all these other things they’re supposed to be doing.

    And you are right that people have a very loose definition of “can’t”.


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