I love bowling. While I may not be good at bowling, I do enjoy the fun, skill, and occasional incredibly miraculous moments on a bowling lane. This week I managed to get back into the swing of things by ordering a bowling ball and shoes. Having your own bowling ball has benefits whereas I no longer have to search for a house ball that is weighted and fits my fingers. Additionally, I don’t feel like a Blockbuster Video flashback moment attempting to locate the right movie. Just as I don’t want to wear someone else’s shoes that god knows have been worn thousands of times. Perhaps I am seeking a bit of comfortability and investment by adapting to a cause or mission of sportsmanship and development.
Many of us have been to bowling alleys and perhaps attempted to get beyond the embarrassment of multiple gutter balls or only striking one pin. But many people are keenly unaware that bowling both professionally and for fun require some house rules that many people don’t follow. One of those house rules is the observation of the one lane courtesy. When a bowler gets on the approach, and there’s someone on either side of them, the general rule is that the first one on the approach bowls first. Sure, everyone at a bowling alley wants to have fun. But there are traffic rules in place to keep from accidental tripping or other hazards.
Let’s face some facts that some people try things based on trial and error. Sometimes learning as you go can sometimes be beneficial. However, occasionally we are either afraid to ask for help or guidance to save face. Perhaps this is a masculinity power issue, but today I experienced first-hand how house rules can become a heated issue for some.
I was bowling in my lane with a family to my immediate left and an experienced bowler to my right. As I approached to throw the ball down the lane, a woman entered my lane to snap a photo of her child causing me to slip the ball out of my hand landing on the floor. She didn’t apologize and gave me a glare that it was my fault. The bowler to my right was outraged but kept his temper in check. I decided to regroup and attempt another throw only to have a man to my right throw trip over my right leg onto the lane falling to the ground after I had released my bowling ball. Basically, he came out of nowhere but was profoundly angry for tripping over my extended leg. He began yelling at me causing a scene in the bowling alley. But others that saw what happened immediately came to my rescue citing he and his party wasn’t following house rule courtesies. I remained quiet out of shock that I was being blamed for something I wasn’t responsible for. But was comforted to experience that others came to my rescue and began admonishing the man yelling at me.
The man didn’t want to hear about house rules or sportsmanship. Instead, it was as if a trigger was initiated allowing his family to witness rage, humility, colorful words, and a barrage of hatred for such a minor incident. But reflecting I could see where some people in society pick and choose an argument attempting to justify, they are in the right when not trying to understand their wrongs. For some reason, I was trying to be apologetic without being confrontational. Eventually, a bowling manager came over apparently after listening to witnesses asked the man and his family to leave or she would call the police. This enraged the man to the point where police were summoned because he tried to lunge at me asserting that I was the one that had instructed the police to be called. It was a moment of zero to a hundred in a split second. I quickly began to experience a bit of shock and confusion because a minor issue had escalated towards a significant event despite there was nothing criminal about it. My ears went numb similar to an explosion where all one hears is a high pitch but no voices or other noises.
The police arrived and began listening to witnesses. People were standing around me while I was seated behind the score desk on my lane. I felt very closed in. But the police came up and asked if the other man had pointed a gun at me? I said, “a gun? No.” I quickly learned from others that the man during the yelling said he would kick my ass then shoot me in the parking lot. I shook my head in disbelief thinking “is this the norm of society today?” The man was eventually taken away in handcuffs for communicating threats and disturbing the peace. What was supposed to be a fun day of bowling lost its magic thanks to a miraculously strange turn of events.
Does this mean my investment is out the window never to return to a bowling alley? Perhaps not. What it does suggest is that behaviors can run amuck anywhere. But we shouldn’t live in constant fear that people always want to do harm to others. Sure, I will have some distractions and occasionally look over my shoulder. But a valuable lesson was that others observed injustice, overreactions, and others failing to adhere to house rules. Perhaps we can begin to advocate for others when we witness injustice or others being potentially harmed because of misunderstanding or misinterpretations. That would be a miraculous moment if we started to advocate for one another.