I go to the gym to lift weights twice a week. My gym is not a fancy expensive health club with espresso machines and Jacuzzis and lots of Spandex; it’s also not a black iron gym filled with big men, lots of weights, and chalk dust. It’s a city recreation center, so it caters to a diverse population.
Every couple of months, on Tuesday mornings, a new group of young men (and the occasional young woman) turn up. I don’t know if they’re in the Navy, or trying to get into the Navy, but they have something to do with the Navy, and they’re trying to meet some sort of fitness standards. They have some sort of instructor or trainer who has a clipboard. They do pull ups. My trainer and I watch them, count their pull ups, and make quiet comments about how many of their pull ups should count and how many should not. We try to guess how many pull ups the tall muscular guy in the red shoes is going to do.
The other morning a new crop arrived. After they did their pull ups (the guy in the red shoes did 18, one less than the maximum, but we only thought 15 of them counted), they all bunched up in the stretching area, which is where I happened to be with my trainer, doing ab work. Apparently since it was snowing outside their minder decided they wouldn’t go outside to do whatever it was they normally did next, but they should stay inside and run around the track in pairs. He decided on pairs because he didn’t want them to overwhelm the ordinary citizens who were walking/running/lunging around the 1/11th mile track. He instructed them on civilian track etiquette:
- Stay on the outside
- Don’t run anybody over
- Announce your lap as you pass me
- If two people are running/walking abreast and you can’t get by, slow down until you can pass them safely
And the pièce de résistance,
- If I see someone get out there in a wheelchair or something, I’m gonna pull you in, so stay alert
My trainer and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows. Note that these guys were standing so close to me and my wheelchair that I was afraid one of them was going to step on me, so it’s not like it would have been easy for them to miss me. I said, sotto voce, “I have a sudden urge to get back in the wheelchair and get out there on the track.”