Thursday, November 21, 2013
Each month, the gym I belong to recognizes a staff member and hangs their picture in the lobby for 30 days. I remember how my kids’ faces light up when they saw mom or dads pictures hanging anywhere, so I think it’s kinda cool that they’ve established this practice. It creates a feeling of accomplishment. Maybe not as much as a large raise would, lol, but still it’s a nice thing to do. Least ways I think so. This month one of the two maintenance employees was recognized. Our gym is large, three floors, of cardio, weight training, and a floor for specialized classes like Zumba and body pump etc. That doesn’t take into consideration an Olympic sized pool and a moderately sized warm water pool, three locker rooms, steam rooms and hot tubs. I’m exhausted just typing the description, and there are only two people to keep all of this stuff running efficiently. In other words, something is always broke. These guys are always busy.
I realize this is a long preamble so I’ll get to my point. The person recognized this month is African American. Yesterday morning I was standing in front of my locker, getting dressed and heard two men in a conversation. The long and short of it was they questioned whether anyone of that gentleman’s race was capable of doing anything more than………. I’ll leave it there. If I said their conversation was disgusting it would be an understatement. I walked around the corner, looked at both of them, and as my son Matt would say “Came unglued.”
A lot of good it did. My massage therapist once told me something I’ll never forget. She told me that “Haters will always hate.” These two guys simply switched their invectives from racial to political, called me all sorts of liberal-pinko-hippie-commie names and told me to mind my own business.
I told them it was my business.
It’s tempting to sink to their level. It would feel good to hurl a few well-chosen thoughts at them and their beliefs. What scared me most is that these two guys have positions of responsibility in our community.
So I’ll take the high road.
We need to focus on what we want and not on what we want to remove. We need to hammer away at racism and sexism with the “R” word – RESPECT. We need to educate people that your politics don’t play a part in respecting other human beings. I don’t care what philosophy you espouse, you can learn the R word. We need to teach our kids and grandkids that basic respect and dignity is non-negotiable.
The old song says “Accentuate the positive.” That doesn’t mean we ignore injustice. I use my ability to write to “spread the word,” so to speak. I have to tell you my legs were shaking a bit when I confronted those two guys yesterday and when I walked away I felt like the whole locker room was looking at me. I’ll leave you with this little story.
As the wagon master said to the passengers when the wagon got stuck in the mud going up a steep hill, “Them’s that’s goin’ on get out and push. Them’s that’s not get out of the way.”
Teach, preach, and learn the “R” word