Are you familiar with the man or woman at the rink who apparently likes to give out advice more than, oh, skate? I have always wondered about that person (or people — there are a couple skaters like that whom I see on a semi-regular basis). I don’t get it, because when I go to the rink, I go to skate. Only to skate. Socializing may be a byproduct of my skating, but it is not a goal, not even a low-priority one — if I get zero socializing done but lots of skating, I’m happy. But they’re usually helpful people, with their hearts in the right places, so I don’t think anything of them and just continue on my way.

Except, of course, when it interferes with my practices. Now, if you’ve got a tip to offer, I’ll gratefully listen and try it out. I’m not talking about those people. I’m not talking about polite conversation or the occasional session of trading tips. If I’m not in the mood to talk, I don’t engage in the conversation and we all focus on our own things.

I’m talking about people who hover, whom you have to ignore in order to avoid. Who skate up to you and start ordering you, “Let me see that toe loop again” and stand there and wait until you oblige them.

I seriously lost my patience yesterday, and almost my temper. That NEVER happens. I’m a pretty low-key person and I usually just smile and keep to myself. But this skater kept popping up to tell me how to correct things (things the skater cannot perform), and was hard to brush off. I have found that the fastest way to deal with it is to nod, say thanks, and skate away. But this time was particularly persistent and I kept hearing my name being called out across the rink. I tried to put my concentrating face on and keep skating, but you can only ignore your name being boomed aloud for so many times before it becomes awkward for everyone.

I know that the advice I’ll probably get — and the advice I would give — is to just say something directly and frankly to the offender and get it to stop. But I have said mild things before, like, “Thanks, but I’m practicing now” or “I’ll stick to the way my coach taught me.” Also, I skate at this rink all the time, and it’s sort of like kicking up a fuss with a co-worker — sometimes it’s not worth the tension that would result, that you have to live with afterward. I start to see the appeal of freestyle sessions at the Serious Rink, aka the Kinda Mean Rink, because there nobody talks to anybody unless they’re in lesson. Sure, some skaters have serious chips on their shoulders and they all think they’re better than me — they’re better SKATERS, not people — but at least they don’t mess with my time or my practice. The problem is, skating there costs about four times as much as my regular rink.

Have you ever encountered this? How do you deal with it?