Doing Your Job Well Isn’t Being Salty

My Tatyova Commander Deck has Oko, Thief of Crowns in it. (Translation: I have a mostly-peaceful deck of 100 cards. One of those cards is so powerful that it has been banned in some formats.)

Oko, being a trickster, never shows up when I want him to. I’ll have nothing on the board, one of my kids has a thing that will kill everyone, I draw Oko, and I have to play him right then because he’ll at least get rid of that one thing.

But then he gets countered. (“Mom! You can’t play a bomb like Oko when your mono-blue opponent has ten cards in hand and five blue mana untapped!”)

Or he gets insta-killed. (“In response, Lightning Bolt. Fork.”)

And even if he survives landing on the battlefield, he never survives the next opponent’s turn. (“Move to combat. Swing at Oko with everything.” Disapproving look. “You should know better than to cast Oko when you don’t have a board state. We’re OBVIOUSLY going to wipe him out.”)

I used to have a lot of simply fun things in this deck– a triad of squirrel interactions, a handful of elf interactions, some things with slowly adding counters that only got people worried once I had twenty-five lands on the ground. Stuff that usually didn’t work, but would make you raise an eyebrow when it showed up, and if it actually did work, it was surprising and fun. But my son who favors mono-blue has continuously pointed out to me my deck’s failings, convinced me to trim the fat, and honed my deck into something with a greater win ratio.

So, the other night I drew Oko. I waited a couple of more turns until I had some more creatures on the board who could protect him. I watched while all my opponents tapped all their mana to play their bombs. I let their creatures fall, holding in reserve my counters and my blue mana.

Then Oko landed.

No one could counter him. I immediately took out the biggest threat. Then I protected him with Curator’s Ward. Instead of attacking, I left my creatures up to block for him, and I passed the turn. I countered everything my opponents tried against him. A few more turns, and Oko had become king of all.

My daughter took umbrage. She said the way I played Oko was the saltiest she’d ever seen. I said I was merely finally applying their own advice to me, given over many games. My kids told me I was salty like this scene from Game Knights. I said they were the salty ones; I was just playing my deck optimally for once.

Football teams also get irrationally accused of “too much winning.” BYU is currently 8-0, not having just won every game, but having won every game with a combo of smash-face and style that’s seldom seen on any field, anywhere. In our game against Texas State, we were ahead by a substantial margin, and in a 4th-and-one situation our punter (Rehkow) saw an opportunity, so faked the punt and ran for 49 yards. In the moment I was watching it, I was surprised and delighted. But then the announcer said that wasn’t a classy move. Our coach even apologized to the Texas State coach for that play. I guess this special-teams freshman who had been given some decision-making authority was supposed to hold back and play sub-optimally. He’s supposed to be excellent, he’s supposed to make sure we win, he’s supposed to display our team’s depth to those voting in the AP Poll who hold all the keys to whether or not BYU is invited to a bowl game that would generate millions of dollars for the university in these COVID-stretched times– but apparently, he was supposed to play below his insight and ability.

I once had a court case where my opposing counsel wrote a brief claiming the trial judge had messed up in seventeen different ways, any one of which would entitle his client to a new trial. I replied to all those (meritless) seventeen claims of error in my brief. He asked for an oral argument, and was given the standard ten minutes of time to present his case. When he stood up to the podium, he told the court he was going to argue all seventeen points. Well, I knew that was an impossibility. He got through two of them, then, after his time was out, addressed a third, and then, after the court invited him to sit down, mentioned several other points, and asked the court to consider all the others on its own (which it would have done, anyway).

I stood up, quickly addressed the points he’d covered, briefly addressed the points he’d specifically alluded to, and offered to take any questions on any of the rest. The court had none, so I sat down with several minutes to spare.

When the docket was over and all the attorneys were leaving, opposing counsel sought me out. He said he wished he’d been allowed to argue against my co-worker (who’d argued an earlier case on the docket) instead of the “dangerous” one. I laughed politely, and then said my co-worker was plenty dangerous. I thought that was the end of it, but when we got back, she told the other attorneys about it, and I was nicknamed “Danger” for a week or two.

A last example. I’ve participated in church councils (some weekly, some monthly) for several years. I generally try to keep people on task, to help the quiet people to contribute to the conversation, and to keep my own comments as short as possible. So, one week there was a discussion about whether to allow a certain person to bring his dogs to church. I was sure everyone would realize the absurdity of this request, so I hung back. But the comments seemed to be edging towards a feeling that we should be understanding towards this poor brother and let his dogs come into the building with him. When they were about to make a decision, I said, “Are these dogs licensed therapy dogs?”

“No.”

“Are they small and well-behaved?”

“No. They’re big, and they jump on people.”

“Are they inside dogs?”

“No. They run around in his tall grass.”

I looked around the council. Then I said, “Well, if we’re having ‘Bring a Pet to Church Day,’ I’m sure my kids will want to have our cat come. I bet a lot of other folks would be happy to bring theirs, too. We’ll need to call in an exterminator for the fleas and ticks that get brought in, and we’ll have to assign a committee to clean the carpets after the animals have an accident on them. Also, we should be prepared for the lawsuits when the big animals knock over our elderly members or bite someone.”

Although I hadn’t said much, my comment became notorious. When someone brought up an unreasonable request that could result in very little positive and a whole lot of negative, all someone on the council had to do was say, “This sounds like ‘Bring a Pet to Church Day,'” and everyone would look at me, smile, and then redirect the discussion. From some later comments I heard from others who hadn’t been there, I suspect I had somehow gained a reputation for being a little salty, when I hadn’t done anything but succinctly state the facts.

I just played Oko how he was supposed to be played. Our punter just took the opportunity he’d been trained to see. I argued the case to the best of my ability. I stated facts and let people draw their own conclusions.

There ain’t no salt in that.