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Reading the signs

I’m getting to know my trapeze instructors pretty well.  Not necessarily about their lives, but quite a bit about their personalities and tendencies.  My favorite instructor is a very positive, tough-but-gentle woman whom I’ve only heard speak well of other people, but I’m starting to be able to tell when she’s at the end of her rope.  The catcher today was clearly pushing her to her polite-and-supportive limit.  While he caught me both times, he still screwed up both catches, dropping me down about 6 inches on the first catch and hitting me in the face on the second catch.  When I came down from the first one, she told me, “You did everything right.  We’re going to adjust the timing on the calls.”  After the second one she told me, “Thank you for helping him learn.”

It might not seem like much, but in the 30-odd hours I’ve spent with her, “thank you for helping him learn” is hands-down the meanest thing I’ve heard her say about someone, yet if I’d been a newer student I don’t think I would have even realized she was upset.  I admire that she can keep such a cool exterior even when she’s angry at a colleague; I’ve always considered it one of the marks of a true professional, but most people struggle to put it into action.

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