Getting a Substitute
Philosophical question: Can one person truly substitute for another person?
This question comes into play every day or week in the organized tennis game of which I am a part. The games are scheduled a month to a month-and-a-half in advance. Prior to making the dates, a sheet is sent out so that players can mark off unplayable days. There is always a pool of players not scheduled to draw from in case of an emergency. Usually this works out fine, without a hitch.
However, it is easier to crawl onto the field with a serious illness or malady than go to the substitutes list and request someone to fill in for you.
Recently I had severe pain in my Achilles tendon, but I showed up and limped through two sets of tennis. My wife pleaded with me not to go, but I knew the consequences of not showing up.
Small remarks such as:
"We were three, where the hell were you?" "I don't really enjoy playing Canadian! (Three players - two play against one, with the one allowed to hit in a doubles court and the two only allowed to hit in the singles lanes.)
"Don't you understand the meaning of responsibility?" "Mr. Greenberg, your name is mud from now on!" and other unprintables not proper to publish in a family newspaper.
Since the average age of the tennis group is close to 70 years, one would think that "I just plain forgot," would serve as a valid excuse. Let me say categorically - it cuts no ice! Either show up or have a hospital bed or death certificate. Nothing else will be acceptable.
Last week I was in Vail, CO for a good friend's wedding and cheerfully called home to get my messages on a Friday morning. The first message played back, "Stanley, it is 9:30 a.m.; we are standing on the tennis court. Where the hell are you?" A dagger in my heart. I had forgotten to get a substitute.
My wedding weekend was ruined. "How could I go home?" "Would I have to find a cave in the Rocky Mountains like Osama Bin Laden?" "Would I have to hop a tramp steamer to China?"
No, I would have to return to Jericho to face the music!