I woke up unhappy today for a variety of reasons (none involving WoW). As I struggled to find something to take my mind off of the things that were poking at it with sharp sticks, I eventually settled on my usual scapegoat: World of Warcraft.
But I had no idea what I wanted to do. I ran circles around Dalaran on my druid checking for Schools of Magic book spawns. Three left. They don’t exist. I contemplated queuing for a random dungeon for my daily allowance of frost badges. I toyed with the idea of logging my 73 paladin and queuing for things there…I thought about switching servers to play my blood elf paladin…
And I realized – not for the first time – that most of my characters are either tank of healers. Those that aren’t are either solely damage-dealing classes or had leveled as a tank or healer and switched at 80 to DPS. I’ve long believed that healing and tanking require a very special kind of person to do correctly, let alone to do well. Am I that kind of person, really?
In my rantings about stupid people I probably come across as severely impatient. I’m not. I spent two semesters working with mentally disabled children as a classroom aid. You do not understand patience until you deal with autism, learning disabilities, drooling, screaming, and otherwise migraine-inducing behavior without ever jamming freshly sharpened pencils in your eyes. The ability to take a deep breath, smile, and rework a problem for the umpteenth time is a great measure of patience and the greatest measure of a man. Those who treat even the most severely disabled of people with respect and understanding are our most highly valued and under-paid modern super heroes. I quit that job this morning, due to being a full-time student once more, but the lessons it afforded me are not something that will vanish with time (unlike most of my foreign language skills…).
So yes, I am patient. I may go into fits of berserker rage inside my head, but they rarely, if ever, make it beyond my frontal lobe. I do my very best to confront problems when they arise instead of immediately smashing faces in. If I may provide an example: a few days ago I was running my Alliance paladin through Azjol-Nerub for the tanking ring that drops off of Anub’arak. It had dropped once before and a rogue took it. Being something of an OCD completist, I often refuse to move on from one dungeon until I have gotten every last bit of loot I need from it. Sure I was angry. Some dolt rolled on loot he didn’t need and which I could have used. But Azjol-Nerub is short and quick and relatively painless, so I had been queuing endlessly in hopes of snagging the ring for myself. I was placed in a group with a death-knight who, from the get go, was rubbing my frayed nerves raw. He death-gripped the first set of mobs before we’d even buffed up and I rushed in to taunt and save his stupid ass. Figuring everybody hits the wrong button now and again, I didn’t say anything. But he did it again, so I politely asked him to please stop death gripping. He did it again. Now even the other group members were bitching at him. He finally read party chat and said he wouldn’t do it again. He said he was playing on his friend’s account while he friend slept. Personally I think he was just an idiot trying to siphon blame to an imaginary friend. Anyway, he did little more than auto attack and cast the occasional disease through the rest of the instance, and the group was polite enough to explain the bosses to him. When Anub’arak finally died, the ring dropped. I knew it would. It always does when there is someone in the group I suspect will ninja loot. Sure enough the death knight rolled need. When he won, several people including myself tried to explain that since he was not the tank, the ring should probably be given to me. He said he wanted it for another character (I thought this was your friend’s account, dipshit?) and then left the group.
People like that are in endless supply. Some great big infected cunt belches them out in the bowels of hell somewhere, and for some unholy reason we end up with their kind in mass quantities. Always ready to take what they cannot use, forever ignorant of social expectations and acceptable interactions. It makes me mad, yes, but I was never once impolite to him. I, and others, attempted to explain that it was a tanking ring, he was not the tank, and that it was impossible to give that ring to his “other character”. Apparently logic and decency were too much for his underdeveloped brain, because he left without a word. Who cares about your reputation as long as you got the loot you wanted, right?
Endless patience. Without it any healer would go insane and any tank would split his skull on his own sword. There is no reprieve from asshats who, without remorse, terrorize the skilled community with nonsense like that above. Why would anyone want to tank or heal for those who cannot, will not, play fair? Are the rare few gifted with common courtesy and decency really enough to get us through a day of randoms with attention-starved, foul-mouthed, ignorant little shits who insist that they, above all others, are correct and good and infallible? No.
But we do it anyway, because we’re us. We’re tanks. We’re healers. We make our mark by keeping idiots alive regardless of what fire they stand in. We taunt mobs off of them when they pull aggro because they didn’t understand that yes, you can taunt a target off the tank. We remind them when they forget and correct them when they mess up, because if we don’t then our job gets that much harder. When everyone else is obsessing over DPS meters and gear scores, we put our heads down and focus on one thing: getting through alive. Not just ourselves, but the whole group. Everyone.
And we get no thanks for it. When things go right, we are invisible. When things go wrong, we stand in a glaring red spotlight and take criticisms and insults with quiet aplomb, all the while festering underneath. We seek only the barest minimum in reward. Perhaps this time our trinket will drop. Maybe this time we’ll have a shot at that belt. And when the boss is dead and we wipe blood and sweat from our eyes only to see the idiot DPS who died twice during the fight and spent half the instance AFK rolling on loot that is clearly itemized for us, we despair. Maybe we rage a little. Maybe we just stop caring.
But we don’t stop tanking, and we don’t stop healing. That’s why at the end of every instance, I /bow to my tank or healer.
To anyone who’s ever assumed the responsibilities of a tank or a healer, to anyone who has ever attempted to lead a group, to anyone who has ever bowed their head, gritted their teeth and soldiered on for the good of the whole, to anyone who has ever dived on falling health bars or thrown themselves on a wayward mob….thank you.