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Tough decision

October 23rd, 2011

I did not play hockey in Ottawa.  I was supposed to, but I made the cardinal sin of a pickup hockey goalie: I backed out of a game.

After he interviewed me for his article in the Ottawa Citizen, Ken Warren offered to help me find a hockey game in Ottawa.  He put me in contact with Rob Millican, who runs Ottawa Rec Hockey.  Rob responded to me right away with an enthusiastic email saying how much he’d love to have me come and play hockey with the group Thursday morning.  I told him that sounded great and that I’d be there.  That was Tuesday morning around 3:00 a.m.

Later on Tuesday, Ken’s story hit the papers and got the attention of CTV Ottawa’s morning show.  Did I want to be on the show when I was in town on Thursday, they asked?  Of course I did, but there was a problem: I had already committed to the game.

I thought about it for a while.  It was a lose-lose situation.  Either I’d go to the game and regret missing out on the bright lights of television, or I’d go to the television studio and regret missing the game.

I had already played in Ontario, so strictly speaking I didn’t need the Ottawa game to complete the quest, but I really hate backing out of games.  Actually, I didn’t even know what it felt like to back out of a game.  Up until that point, I had never — not even once — backed out of a game after committing to play.

Rob had been accommodating finding me a game on short notice.  He had sounded so excited in his email.  On top of that, I felt like backing out would be a slap in the face for Ken, since he had written such a great article about my trip and had connected me to Rob.

I was tormented.  I felt physically ill, which might seem like an overreaction, but the choice was really getting to me.

In the end, I decided that I would regret not doing the TV interview more than I would regret not doing the game, so 22 hours after I accepted the game, and about 30 hours before the start of the game, I emailed Rob to back out.  He acknowledged the change with a terse response.  Though the tone was neutral, it was such a change from our earlier correspondence that I could tell he was irritated.

Sorry Rob.  Sorry Ken.


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