INDIANAPOLIS — A prominent Midwestern track recently made a Facebook post explaining that a couple of rained out features from the previous week would be made up on an upcoming Friday night. Because the rain had come after the preliminary races were completed and the feature fields set, there would be no refunds.
The post was met with a series of critical responses from fans who, because they didn’t see a completed program, demanded a full refund. A number of longtime fans and racers came to the track’s defense, explaining that this policy has been in place in racing for many decades and the track was in the right.
Still, people were angry. One man posted that he hoped the track and all the buildings on the property burned to the ground. Our hope, of course, is that this person receives the mental health treatment they so obviously need.
Welcome to our brave new world, where hate, complaints and wishes of catastrophe are a click away. Where the thought of not being refunded $12 turns people into an angry, shouting, torch-wielding digital mob.
Another Midwestern track recently penalized a competitor for running over the cone on a restart. A crewman on the offended party followed up on the track’s social media site, asking for video proof of the infraction. After all, he insisted, the track should be required to provide absolute video proof to his complete satisfaction.
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Complete satisfaction. That’s what we feel we have coming today — and nothing less.
In our contentious modern political dialogue, a new derogatory nickname has been introduced: Snowflake. This is used to describe someone — usually younger — who is sensitive and must be shielded from the harsh realities of life. But it seems that all of us — you, me and the next guy — have become snowflakes of a sort.
If we feel we have been wronged, or just disagree, we use every possible tool to strike back at the offending party. Social media, boycotts, letter-writing campaigns, lawsuits … anything to force the offender to relent to our complete satisfaction.
It’s not wrong to stand up for yourself when you feel you have been cheated or wronged. It’s not wrong to press for change when a company or organization is doing something wrong. It’s not wrong to stand up for your principles.
But the level at which we move into fighting position has dropped to a dangerous new level. Obviously, hoping a track will burn down because they wouldn’t refund your ticket is not only ridiculous, it’s deranged. Short of that, working yourself into a frenzy because of a $12 dispute is not only a waste of time, it’s unhealthy.
If the only way you can be happy is to achieve success to your complete satisfaction, you’re probably going to have a lot of unhappy days. Complete satisfaction is, in my experience, an impossible and unrealistic goal.
Life isn’t fair, and isn’t always nice. Sometimes, to use the vernacular, life kicks our butt.
If somebody won’t issue a $12 refund, go tell them personally of your disappointment and let it go. If your guy was set back a couple of positions for running over the cone, go to the officials and tell them you disagree and let it go. Take your lumps and move on.
Most of all, talk to people personally. Don’t run to social media, don’t use public message boards, and don’t complain to your friends. Talk directly to the party and work it out. If the track or series does not have an open-door policy and won’t listen to your concerns, shame on them.
I’m not personally above all this, of course. I recently found myself at the keyboard, ready to tear off a scathing letter of complaint because a company didn’t handle a transaction correctly. And then I realized: I’m completely bent out of shape over $28. For less than 30 bucks I was angry and it spoiled nearly a full afternoon. How dare those people burden me with their incompetence …
How ridiculous! I was nothing but a snowflake, hurt and angry that I was wronged.
We need to get over it, fellow snowflakes. I don’t want any tracks to burn down and I don’t want us to become mindless toads, waiting to jump at the next person or party who would dare not respond to our complete satisfaction.
I don’t want to be a snowflake. I want to be a rock; an everyday, chipped and weathered, enduring and surviving rock. Something that can take a few licks and still be … a rock.
That’s a worthwhile goal.