I love going to the gym. Actually, let me rephrase that. I realize that with my family history of heart disease, that if I live the life I truly want, I will become fat and die from a heart attack, so I go to the gym and go on runs as often as I can so I can at least slow down the inevitability of an early death caused by clogged arteries and a pickled liver. Working out counters excessive bourbon drinking, right? Thought so.
Anyway, I mostly just show up with nothing more than the workout clothes I’m wearing. But recently, I’ve become addicted to the sauna and steam room. The actual act of sitting awkwardly in a tiny hot room with five other sweaty people trying to avoid eye contact is not enjoyable, but I do love the cleansing feeling. So I’ve had to bring a bag to the gym with me. Which means I’ve had to venture into the dreaded locker room.
We all know what public gym locker rooms are like: Naked old people everywhere. I can say “people” because my wife has confirmed there are just as many free-wheeling older ladies on the ladies’ side as there are on the men’s side. Again, the key is to just look straight ahead or straight down at the ground. You won’t entirely avoid seeing old dongs and buttocks, but it helps. I’m not to that age where I’m entirely comfortable walking around naked in front of strangers. I’m just now getting over the emotional abuse I endured showering in high school. I don’t think I actually fully completed puberty until I was 25. This did not make for good times in high school. I could hear them snickering. I still can. Late at night.
But enough about shameless nudity. While fun to discuss, that’s not what this is about. This is about rude people.
While navigating my way through the valley of old balls (last one, I promise), I found my way to my locker in the back. I sat down on the bench with my earphones in, still playing music. I grabbed my phone and saw my wife had texted me a question. I texted her back, and while I was waiting for her to respond, I played my brother back in a game of battleship. Honestly, I’m not sure how long I was sitting there on my phone, but it was probably 3-5 minutes.
I admit I was in my own world. I was 100% oblivious to everything around me. Normally, I’m quite aware of my surroundings. To me, it is annoying when someone isn’t aware of others around them. The majority of the time, most people aren’t aware they are doing it. This was me.
Apparently, there was a gentleman (I use that term loosely) sitting behind me waiting to get into his locker. I was blocking his access. I get that. I was being unintentionally inconsiderate.
However, a normal person, a sane person, a kind person, would’ve simply seen based off of the evidence that I was not intentionally trying to hang anybody up. A normal person would’ve simply tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, I need to get into my locker,” the same way you gently tap on your car horn when someone doesn’t realize the light has turned green. It’s not meant to be rude, simply a polite way making a person aware. I simply would’ve apologized and said, “Absolutely! I’m so sorry, I was in my own little world.”
I was not dealing with a normal, kind, sane or polite person. Again, I’m not sure how long he’d been behind me, but I had no idea he was there. If it was prison, I would’ve been in big trouble. Instead of a kind, “Excuse me,” I get, “Hey, can we move it along here!?” in a very aggressive tone.
This caught me off guard and frankly, annoyed me. I looked around with a look of amazement wondering if anyone else had just witnessed this. It didn’t appear so. I turned to the guy and said, “All you had to do was ask, man. No need to be like that.”
“Well, you’re on your phone and playing games and… *incoherent aggressive mumbling,*” he replied.
He looked like this:
Ok, maybe he didn’t have the horns. The rest is pretty accurate.
After an exchange of two highly sarcastic “Have a good day,” I grabbed my stuff and left. But the confrontation bothered me. To quote George Costanza, “We’re living in a society!”
It’s a society where you should be kind and understanding to people around you. To live by that Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated.
But, “Some men you just can’t reach.” This guy was unreachable.
I’m not sure what happened to that guy to make him such a rude, sad, unhappy man, but I hope it gets better. I truly do. At the time, I admit my natural reaction was to be snippy right back to him, but it only helps to fuel his unaccounted for rage.
The whole encounter bothered me, but the bigger point here is no matter what is going on in your life, just be kind to people. Be nice. Simple as that. There’s a lot of unnecessary conflict happening these days and at the end of the day, it helps to just remember we’re all on the same team.
In case that’s not your style, here’s that story again with three of my favorite insults of all time.