21 December 2019

End of an era

It was just a regular Tuesday Night and I was in the kitchen, about to cook dinner. I saw I had an email and had a look. It was from David. It said that someone had complained to him that I had suggested on my blog that the ThursdayNighters do not welcome anyone who is not white, male and straight. And that I had referred to the awful night underground on my blog. And that he was fed up with keeping the peace and that he was no longer willing to join ThursdayNighter trips I would attend.

That came a bit out of the blue. What? Nobody had indicated at any time that they had issues with me. And no non-straight white males? Where did that come from? I know that on a typical trip I am the only person who isn't, but that's hardly the same as suggesting that if someone of some other demographic would want to join, the ThursdayNighters would say no.

I looked up the passage. I soon found it! It was the final sentence of my post about the YCC. I had found it rather refreshing to be on a trip with them and not see only straight white males around me. Yes if you really want to read that as 'I personally think the ThursdayNighters won't accept anything other than straight white males' you can, but you really have to squint. It looked like someone had made the effort of reading this in the worst possible light.

I didn't quite like it that an anonymous person had been complaining to David. Can't you just tell me to my face? It's hardly as if I have a habit of beating people up if I don't like what they say, or something. And this was the second time an anonymous person had complained about the blog via David. And the third time someone had complained altogether. Me writing about not buying a pannier rack from a fellow ThursdayNighter didn't go down well with said ThursdayNighter! But he had the guts to just tell me directly. And we made up the very next time we saw each other. And then it didn't matter anymore. But you can't make up with people if you don't know who they are. Anyway. I can't for the life of me remember any ThursdayNighter mentioning they had read my blog without clearly having read it for surveillance purposes. Never anything like 'I saw you went there or did that, how interesting!' So I was a bit sceptical about the combination of the blog and the ThursdayNighters. If people are regular readers, just because they find it interesting, then you are a bit more keen to accommodate them if they have a gripe. If you know they only read it when they're looking for the gripe, then, well, not so much.

(Hello, ThursdayNighters who are reading this too!)

And apparently, I couldn't refer to events that had happened either. On my own personal blog. Because, as he said 'it was in the past'. Excuse me? So now I am under a gagging order? And I can only write about TN-approved things? Otherwise I am no longer acceptable? Yes the situation had improved a lot since, but that doesn't mean it doesn't matter anymore. And yes perhaps the TN don't like being reminded of it, but it's not as if I am going around personally bringing it up with them all the time. Look at the size of the (completely unrelated) blog post that link was in: someone had really gone looking for it.

Anyway. So a person who didn't want me to know who he was had gone looking for something to attack me with, and had found this. And that was reason for David to boycott trips I would be on? That was a bit extreme. But well, he also said he was not willing to discuss. OK... I decided he could suit himself and told him I intended to join that week's trip. Fine if he doesn't want to come.

He also said he wanted to stay friends. That was weird! I'm so offensive he doesn't want to come underground if I'm there, but he wants to be friends? I hadn't gone into that in my first mail but the next day I told him that these two things didn't go together, and that if indeed he stood by his decision without being willing to discuss it the friendship was off. So that was it then.

As it happened, I had sent an email out earlier that day to the whole group, saying something like 'so are we back to the wet mine this week?' But no response had come. And then the next day still nothing came. This was a bit suspicious. It looked like I was being purposefully ignored. Or cancelled, as it seems to be called these days. So was there no trip on, or were they hiding its being planned from me? I had already been offered a lift for this trip, so I texted the chap and said I didn't know if there was a trip, so I didn't know if the lift would still be applicable. And then he forwarded me the last email. Which evidently hadn't been sent to me! There was a whole trail. Aha. So David had been all camping on the moral high ground suggesting he would just pull out of trips I would attend, but in reality he had already been trying to make sure I didn't even know there even WAS one before he had told me he had an issue with me. That's sneaky! And well, one normally doesn't check the address list on a group email, so nobody would notice what he was doing. Was he trying to make me not show up in such a way that nobody knew that he had orchestrated that?

Is it possible this was a mistake? Well yes of course it is, in theory. But leaving me out in spite of an explicit reminder on the day he said he wanted me out anyway does not reek of an accident.

I was having second thoughts about just showing up and causing David to return home. If I wanted to keep coming to trips I would not only be triggering David's absence, but I now knew I would have to fight to remain in the loop! He was clearly willing to use dirty tactics. And if I had buckets of allies, someone would have answered my mail. If I had buckets of allies, the initial incident would not have happened! So I did not have any illusions about the amount of support I would get. And then there was the unidentified person. Who knew what he would get up to. I figured the vigilance needed to even receive trip information would be exhausting. And then showing up, and the awkwardness of David storming off in a huff! And then the other ThursdayNighters, who might very well prefer David, and the tense silence I could imagine would follow. And the question of whether the anonymous person would be there. I figured I would not feel awfully welcome. And I can do without that.

I decided the time had come to pull out. It's not as if there have been no tensions before! And I had already started to wonder if I should get myself a hobby that involved more like-minded spirits. This might have been the universe telling me I needed to hurry up with that. Maybe the initial night should have been enough of a hint, and I am a bit slow on the uptake.

Even though maybe it was best for me to quit anyway, it was all rather unpleasant! The behind-the-back work. The complete and utter denial of dialogue. And as well, I had tried to make the TN a better place for women, and now I had made it worse. I'm not keen to imagine what would happen if a new, unsuspecting woman would call out misogyny on some future trip. Not that I should be all too surprised about it panning out like this. If you call out misogyny you tend to be the one paying the price! Not the misogynist. But I still don't regret I spoke out. It's a question of principle! And as well, I am rewarding David and his anonymous accomplice for their divisiveness. But do I really want to spend an evening a week feeling thoroughly unwelcome, only to make sure divisiveness doesn't pay? No.

I also clearly remembered saying to Phil, after having sent out my email to the TN explaining I had felt so ostracised during the aforementioned awful trip, that I had now shown my weakness. If anyone would want to take advantage of that and muscle me out of the club* then they could! Phil didn't think anyone would; that's not how the TN roll. But here we are. Just two months later and it looks like someone did just that!

So how to pull out? Just say 'I'm quitting' and not explain? Or say why I quit? This wasn't so easy! I didn't want to not explain at all. Either you get a barrage of messages saying 'what happened' and you end up explaining again and again; or you get none, and then you know the only narrative out there is David's. I'm not even sure what that is. But it's difficult not to sound aggressive and petulant if you explain why you pull out. And I had replied to the email stream that had been forwarded to me, so the news that David didn't want me on trips anymore, and had tried to block me from knowing about it, was out. Except that, I suppose, to those not knowing what happened before, it looked like I had been drawing really extreme conclusions from David not having included me in the list. Might as well provide a brief explanation. Otherwise my message with 'goodbye, I hereby withdraw' would be a bit weird. Oh well! It was not as if I had an awful lot to lose.

A bit later I had also been pondering if I should see if I could get a farewell trip together. For the people who would be sad to see me go! There should at least be a few. And for me to give all this a happy ending. So I combined it! Sent out my goodbye mail, with brief explanation, and the question who would be up for a farewell trip. Was it perfect? No. Did I want to spend hours on trying to get it right and still not get it right? No. Did I have a lot to lose? No. I hit 'send'. That was it. Almost six years abruptly coming to an end! And I'll see if that trip happens!

*yes I know it's not a club, but what to call it?

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