Archive for May 28, 2014

COMMUNITY, CLOSENESS, AND RESPECT   21 comments

Not a big deal, or maybe it is. No, it really is petty, but I have a gripe today – well, I have it often, but it was evoked today with my trip to Curves. I’m so far from being athletic you could say I extend the normal curve like a snake way off to the left. But I do try to get to Curves three times a week for what amounts to a workout.

If you’re familiar with the place, you know there is a large circle of workout machines. (I think 12. Next time I go I’ll count them.) In between there are “recovery stations” where you can do whatever you want – walking or jogging in place, flinging your arms around, bending and stretching – whatever. And it’s all timed. 30 seconds on a machine, 30 seconds on recovery.

For most of us who pay the small extra fee, the intensity of our workout is recorded on a computer which, at the end of two plus cycles, tells us how we did. Something to strive for. As for me, the hard part is getting myself there. The joyful part is seeing the end.

So, about community and closeness. If I were doing a more serious blog, I’d be ranting about the importance of encouraging community, cooperation, empathy, working together, appreciating each other’s differences, overcoming greed. In other words, I think community is our hope for the future and appreciation of things past.

But It also means respect for our individuality. And that’s what set me off today. When I arrived this morning, there was one other person working out, so I chose to start on a machine at a distance from where she was so as not to crowd her. I was happily (well, dutifully) working my way around the circuit when another woman arrived and started her circuit right next to me. Now, if there ‘s a huge crowd there, options are few. Bu she had plenty of room.

What it meant was I had to stand and wait for her to finish, or work my way around her to a different spot – not the best way to keep the computer informed.

Actually, she seems to be a lovely lady. So what is it when people seem not to be aware they are crowding others?

Now that I’m on a roll, how about the light at the intersection of highways 41 and 5? (Or wherever your example may be.) Those of us who drive there often know the green light lasts just long enough for three, maybe four cars to get through. I’m OK with that. It’s a busy intersection. But I do try to be alert if I’m first in line so I move as soon as I’ve taken a quick look left to make sure no one is running the red light against me. I’m not perfect at it, but it seems to me like an act of respecting other people’s need to get through the intersection. My gripe? Folks who are first in line who seem not to be aware that the fate of others depends on them and, for want of a better word, dawdle for one reason or another. Leaving those a few cars behind them waiting again through the whole cycle before they can get through.

One more example of failure to respect personal space. The person whose own personal space is minimal, so he or she drives you into a corner as you try to maintain your polite distance in a conversation.

I know. I know. Cultural differences. Even neurological differences. For my classes when we were on the topic of personal space, I often cited the difference between my Swedish heritage of greeting people with a handshake that produces a separation of approximately three feet. (Try it) Compared to my welcoming Italian heritage in-laws who greeted me with a kiss on the lips – or at least in the vicinity. I learned to appreciate the closeness, though I suspect they never understood the Scandinavian stand-off-ish-ness (literally.)

But why couldn’t the woman at Curves have chosen to start a few machines away from me this morning?

p.s. I’m almost positive the woman in question will never see this blog, and wouldn’t recognize herself if she did. Therefore I feel safe in making this public.

 

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