Thursday, October 30, 2014

4.12. Water Under the Bridge

The first gift my wife bought me.
Supports the swap trick without a mod chip.
I know. She's awesome.


Being married to a probation officer has its perks.

The biggest regret, looking back, was how easily I swept family under the rug. This was the six year mark as guild leader, but my sixteenth year as husband. Neglecting her to ensure the guild stayed focused through 40-Man raids was poor judgement on my part; very representative of life decisions thus far. Turn the clock back a bit further, and you'll come to learn about the day my wife was keeled over, puking her guts out with the stomach flu on the very day movers were arriving. They continued to cart boxes out to their truck, while I wrapped up "just one more round" of Team Fortress Classic. I was bona fide "Husband of the Year" material. One of my first offenses involved the purchase of a PlayStation game with money set aside for groceries. Street Fighter Alpha, to be specific. Great port, by the way. Included a fantastic remixed soundtrack that could be toggled on/off in-game; I highly recommend it if you enjoy 2D fighting games, and own a classic PSX.

Did I mention that the first generation PlayStation was the first gift she ever bought me? True story. So, on the downside, we ate a lot of ramen that month -- but if you came over to visit, there would definitely be some SFA going down.

Jul and I had come a long way from those early days of marriage, but it was only really now coming to fruition, sixteen years later. I hate thinking about how much she shouldered, particularly when Descendants of Draenor was birthed. It was unfair and unkind, wholly representative of my fixation on video games. It wasn't until around Wrath of the Lich King that I started to become aware of the impact my decisions were having on her, and slowly, I began trading excuses for acceptance. Eventually, we could have evenings together again, share in the day, and just plain talk. And Jul always gave an ear, particularly when it came time for me to broach the subject of people analysis.

I like to think my wife has proficiency in reading people -- since she made it her career.


"The word you're looking for is 'recidivism'."

"Sure, OK. Repeat offenders, right? And what's that look like for alcoholics?"

Jul shook her head, waiting for a response. She hoped I would finish the sentence, " what context? What kinds of crimes are we talking about?"

"Oh, I get it. Like domestic abuse or theft..." I said.

"Yeah! The demographics change based off of the type of crime."

I paused, cycling through all the ways I might try to criminally classify inappropriateness and abuse, which is about as close to a "crime" as a guild leader could get in categorizing d-bag guild members.

"Well, if someone is out wandering randomly in public, drunk off their ass, hurling insults."

"That could still be a number of different types, it could be civil disobedience...if the person is directing threats to someone in particular, it could be public harassment. There's public drunkenness, the list of statutes is long, and quite often it isn't really clear!"

"Public intoxication isn't really punishable in the state of Colorado is it?"

"You can plea down, though, from a more serious offense, and still end up serving probation."

This was becoming more complex than what I gave the original question credit for. Jul sensed frustration, "...what are you really trying to ask, here?"

" struggling with whether or not I should let someone back into the guild. Someone that was verbally abusive to another player. The guy has a history with the drink. We've talked about it. He's remorseful. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt but...I just wish there was a way I could make a better judgement call on this."

"Look. Just because we have a by-the-book classification for each offense, that doesn't mean there's an answer for each individual person you can just look up. If you go into the office and have a pat response for each and every case that gets dropped on your're not doing your job."

She was right. The college kid that had one too many drinks after a party and killed his friend might be the same offense as a tipsy constructor worker accidentally dumping a load of lumber on a co-worker...but they're still two human beings. They have histories. They have agendas. Remorse is sincere or manufactured. People regret their decisions, or are indifferent. They are capable of growing...or not. What it takes to sort this all out is the read. Sitting them across the desk. Smelling the alcohol on them after getting a denial that they've gone near a bottle at all. Watching them fidget and turn away when asked if they're attending alcohol treatment classes. The crime is important to sort people into generalized punishment categories, but getting a read on someone is crucial in determining who gets another chance.

Except that I had no desk to sit them down at. No way to smell breath. No way to see fidgeting and dishonesty. All I had to work with was their voice over Ventrilo, and a history of bad behavior.

My wife passed her own sentence on the case, "Without knowing anything else, I'd say give him a second chance -- after it is made clear that this behavior won't be tolerated again. After that, he's out."

Mature assists Mashakana in clearing elemental
rifts, earning "Tripping the Rift",
Blade's Edge Mountains

Little Miss Chatterbox

"I've been contemplating having Bulwinkul come back to DoD. How do you feel about that?"

Lexxii seemed surprisingly casual about it, "I'm fine with it."

I checked again, offering her another chance to back out, "You sure? I mean...I'm not at all comfortable with his treatment towards you. It was completely out of line."

"No, it's fine. I mean, I was just really all. When I started to make the suggestions about bite orders on blood queen, he just blurted that shit out over Vent and I was really just not expecting that at all. But...y'know. No big deal. Whatever."

"Ok, well...I'll have another chat with him about it. And to be clear, he'll be on an extremely short leash."

"Thanks. It's good to finally get some support around here. Y'know, Bullshark and I really feel like we've been welcomed by you guys, and to be honest, haven't really gotten any kind of support like that from guild leaders in the past. I mean it really got going with the some of the drama queens in Final Hour, and they would just throw us under the bus, y'know? It happened a lot. This is the thanks we get? It's pretty sad."

"We're thankful to have both of you. Have you given any thought to healing leadership in Cataclysm?"

"No! I mean, no, not at all, I didn't even know that you were changing the line-up!"

"Well, I'm not entirely sure what's going on with Guns, yet, but there may be a spot in the near future." The guild survey told a clearer story. Guns tied Eacavissi for "Officer Least Noticeably Helping Hanzo run the Guild." Not the greatest badge you'd want to pin to your chest. "Do you think you're up for the task?"

"Well, yeah, I mean, I have a lot of great ideas about how we could really get the healers more involved in some overall strategy discussion, I mean, when we get down to it, there could a lot more adjustment that we do between our specs, especially since I've already sort of bounced a lot of those ideas off Neps and he gets it, y'know? I mean, if we can push our throughput by going with more disc, I'm perfectly fine with that. I mean, I've pretty much been Holy this entire time, but switching to Disc was phenomenal on Sindragosa, it made that fight so much easier to deal with it. and we could do a lot more of that in Cata. As long as people chill out."

Discussions with Lexxii very often went this way; I didn't mind. It gave me a chance to practice listening, which is something a few guild leaders could use a lesson in.

"Give it some thought, and we'll talk more as we approach raid ready. I feel you're the best candidate because you know the healing assignments now, you're proactive, involved, and you're a first class healer."

As it stood, Lexxii was the strongest healer in the line-up. If the raid team could see past the chatter, she'd be fine.

Mature kills one of Falnerashe's alts,
wrapping up "Wintergrasp Ranger",
Lake Wintergrasp

Leveling The Field

Lake Wintergrasp was barren and empty. News of elemental spawnings began to trickle in from all corners of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. Players going about their business were subjected to tremors, as the earth slowly shook, preparing to birth Azeroth's next coming attraction. As such, players diverted their attentions away from Northrend in an attempt cast themselves into aforementioned elemental invasions. And so, with the playerbase migrating away from Northrend, the scheduled outdoor warzone of Lake Wintergrasp held little value for players preparing for the next iteration of war.

I surveyed the list of outstanding achievements and noted that Wintergrasp Ranger remained unfulfilled. And it was here that I drew Shadowmourne once more, preparing to sink it into the alter ego of a ex-guildie who hadn't set foot in our guild in many moons: Falnerashe.

Years had gone by since The Tantrum. That's a lot of time for players to walk past one another on the same server. Each time Falnerashe ran by, en route to a dungeon, or off to participate in some makeshift raid somewhere, I took note of the guild name Triple Zero, for no other reason than it was not Descendants of Draenor.

Her exit had not been kind. She left us in the worst way possible, scathing accusations, fingers pointing and all of the blame sat squarely with me and my mistreatment of her group. She was disgusted, watching half-assed players rise to prominence in the 25-Man roster while she and her friends, folks like Lhaktar and Teras, remained sidelined. Though she never actually asked me for my reasons, I wouldn't have been able to pin them down. All I had was the gut to help govern my decisions; to an outcast guildie, it must have looked at lot like favoritism.

I didn't know much about how things went for her, post DoD. A few in the guild stayed in touch with her, Annihilation, Neps, the PvPers that would make the rounds, and throw together unofficial raids in the wee hours of the morning when the rest of us were trying to plan for the next work day. I was curious if she was still resentful, bitter about the exit. At the very least, I knew the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Lhaktar's passing, and knew that they were close friends. As much as Falnerashe and I had not seen eye to eye in those earlier years, I had to think the loss of her friend was rough, I would never swear that on any of my worst enemies.

So, I was surprised, then, when Drecca mentioned her in passing, over a conversation we discussed about knocking out a Heroic Lich King in 10-Man. Drecca said she'd been offering up services and they had been getting unofficial help from Fal for quite some time -- there wasn't a lot of activity in Triple Zero these days. I had doubts about approaching her, but Annihilation helped push those aside. "Dude, just send her a tell. Get the cricket chirping. You know she will..."

So I did. And she responded.

We talked about DoD, about Triple Zero. We talked about Lhaktar and about Cataclysm. She admitted there were things that went on that she wasn't happy about; I too admitted fault at not giving people management the focus it deserved. We talked about the proverbial water potentially having the possibility...maybe...of running under the bridge. And, of course, I had to make my pitch. Cataclysm was going to be rough, especially for the old-schoolers. Guild structures were going to come apart and pugging dungeons and raids would be a thing of the past. Did she want to put up with that? Should she have to? If I could commit to keeping her away from the drama, and mediating issues so all she needed to worry about was raiding, perhaps the 2nd time around might have a better outcome.

And lo and behold, Wintergrasp Ranger was something she was looking to wrap up as well.

So, Falnerashe and I agreed to wipe the slate clean, and start from scratch. And what better way to do that, then by driving our weapons into each other?

1 comment:

Fredrick said...

Yay, nice some things can work out in the end.