The B List

By GREG MAFFETT | Published: March 13, 2010

My father was a soldier for 10 years. Post WW II to Korea was the time frame. He was known for having "zippers on his stripes". He would get promoted for doing something brilliant. Then he'd get unpromoted for doing something Maffett. Along the way he was thrown out of a large number of barracks, bars and brothels for, well, being himself.

I have to admit, I have not added significantly to the family B list over the past half century or so. Oh sure, I've been thrown out of things. In my early days in the Navy I was tossed out of a radio room on a ship. I'm a pretty sharp guy and my degree was in electromagnetic waves, so I figured I'd be ok. But the the job did not involve checking waves. It involved checking messages for some codes that seemed pretty random to me. So I randomly filed them. A senior chief came in, saw what a mess I made and handed me a mop and pointed me to the hallway. My genius was undone by my lack of attention to detail.

In my current job, I've been tossed out of classrooms twice. Both by the same professor. Once I was ejected for "negotiating without a spreadsheet." Basicially I was doing multimillion dollar calculations. Calculations that normal people did in an excel spreadsheet. I was doing them in my head while conversing with a group of 8 other students. To me, no biggie. But it's true I may have be off by a percent or two and once again, the world wanted detail. I was happy with roughly right. But it was not long until I was in the hallway rekindling an old relationship with a mop and bucket. There was another ejection a few weeks later for a different violation. But you get the idea. I'm getting ejected, but I'm not adding to the B list.

Until today that is. Today I got up early and made it to La Jolla Shores shortly after sunrise. It looked to be a great day. There wasn't much wind and the surf was in the 4-6 foot range. But the area quickly became clogged with surfers. This weekend is the weekend where we shift the clocks forward and it may be the unofficial start of the surf season. The waters were just teeming with surfers.

I try every break from the lifeguard shack north to the Scripps Pier. I get a few good rides in, but nothing is hollering "this is your spot". So I migrate back south. I'm south of a checkered flag on the beach. I've only been surfing over the winter and I can't say I recall seeing this flag before. But a lifeguard in a pick up truck drives down the beach to where I am. He turns the loudspeaker up to max volume so everyone within a mile can hear

"Will the lone surfer in the swim area please exit the area and get over with the other surfers!"

It didn't take me long to figure out who that lone surfer might be. I did notice I had the waves at that end of the beach all to myself. And I was puzzled as to why the other people in wetsuits over there were not surfing. I will once again say it was a genius idea to surf there. But the flag detail, that escaped me. My face, completely beet red I'm sure, told the tale as I slunk out of the swim area, edged to the surf area then tried to blend in and exit the beach as unobtrusively as possible. Which was not very.

I did feel bad about this for a moment, being singled out as the only dork on the beach who didn't know what that flag meant. As I left the beach, the only saving grace I could think of was the family B list. I'd just been thrown out of a Beach. That was something of an accomplishment, though maybe not one I'd brag about too much.

In fact, it wasn't until I got back to my house when the real significance of this event hit home. This wasn't a B list event. I'd just made another list.

A San Diego Lifeguard just called me a surfer. And I had hundreds of witnesses.



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