I’m always running to make a difference. Supporting cancer research, people without homes, or men who can’t pull up their own socks. And all of this reminds me of an uncomfortable experience I had one evening at Bally’s Fitness.
It was a bad day and I was in a bad mood, so I decided to get the blood pumping. It was the dead of winter in Rockford, Illinois and I threw on every piece of black leather I owned, grabbed my gear and went to the gym. The outfit was more about putting up a wall than staying warm. I hadn’t shaved in 5 days and carried a grizzled look that would intimidate even the toughest Walmart greeter. I wanted no part of health club chit chat and was ready to unleash frustration on some big plates.
I flashed my card and walked past the desk guy without a word. A hot chick gave me the once-over and I flipped her off with my eyes. The janitor whistled by, smiling over his mop bucket, and I was in no mood for his happy time.
Thankfully–with the exception of a man who looked to be in his 80’s–the locker room was empty. I sat on the opposite end of the long wooden bench and started unlacing my big black boots. I swore under my breath as a preemptive strike against anyone wanting to discuss the weather. I threw my left boot in the metal locker and it landed with an menacing thud. I was pissed and dammit, that old man had to know.
As I angrily ripped the laces from my right boot, I heard his voice.
“Excuse me, young man. . .”
I was incredulous. Was he talking to me? The baddest man inside this Bally’s Fitness locker room?
“Would you be so kind as to help an old man put on his socks?”
Even in the darkness that was my life that day, I was astonished by his courage. Did he really just ask me to help him pull wool onto his pasty feet? Did he not see the intimidating beard? Did he not hear the silver buckle clanging against my black biker jacket? I was enraged, I tell you.
I looked him in his eye with the meanest scowl I could muster and shook my head in disbelief. I stood tall, delivered an imposing stance, and simply said, “Sure.”
So, there I was, on one knee in front of an 80-year-old man in baggy gray sweat pants pulling up his Pierre Cardin socks! I kept peaking out of the corner of my eye to make sure no one was watching and am quite sure dude witnessed the fastest sock application he’d ever seen in his life.
I staggered back to my bench, sat down and stared at fingers that were no longer virgin to old-man-sock lint. Speechless, and in a post workout daze, I decided to skip the weights and go straight to Red Lobster.
Now, I know what you’re asking, “What does all of this have to do with training?” Well, not a damn thing.