Six days before Christmas the waves were firing, but it was super crowded. All these kids were home from college and I managed to get hit by one of them. Or rather, my board did. When I saw him coming across the closeout right at me, I bailed my board and swam down. I was fine, but my board had a gash in the tail so deep that even the traction pad was torn.
I was about three months pregnant at the time. I haven’t surfed around a crowd since.
The kid was nice and offered to pay for the ding repair. I said I’d let him, but when he was taking longer than 20 minutes to come back from the ATM down the street, I started to wonder if he meant it or not. I got to talking to this guy named Ken in the parking lot while I was waiting. He had surf freckles and wore booties and a rash guard with his full suit. Hawaiian music was playing. I told him the story about the board; how an apologetic college kid was going to get the money to fix it; how I was pregnant; how I felt guilty that this happened at all. Water was dripping down from my wetsuit, making a puddle under my feet.
Just before Ken left to paddle out, I heard him on the phone talking to our local repair shop. He was telling them my name and that I’d be in soon. Then he said, “I want to pay for this repair. Charge it to me. I need to make this right” and hung up. I tried to tell him not to by uncomfortably repeating things like “Please” and “Don’t” and “I can’t let you do this!”, but he insisted, replying “I can’t let you feel let down by humanity. The good in humans needs to prevail.” Then he zipped up his wetsuit, turned off the music and walked down to the beach. Five minutes later the kid came back and gave me forty bucks. He apologized again and confessed unnecessary things to me like how he wasn’t from around here and had never surfed this spot before. I laughed and thanked him and told him to have a Merry Christmas. Then I left a note for Ken letting him know what happened so he wouldn’t feel let down by humanity either.
A few days ago my friend Bob came by and gave me a DVD with some surfing from December 19th, 2014 on it. It was the same day as the accident and the forty dollars and the Hawaiian music in the parking lot and the two guys who made people look good. I barely remember this wave at all. When I think of that day now, I feel guilty again for taking Sprout out into a busy lineup with me, but I’ll probably share this story with him or her someday.