Monday, April 15, 2013

Exercise Fanatics, Nacho Lovers, and Cubs Fans

(Side note: I wrote this post a couple days ago. When I read the articles about what happened at the Boston Marathon, I suddenly viewed the things that happened in this post from an entirely different perspective. I'm so sorry about what happened at the marathon, and I feel sad and scared for all the people who have been affected by it. I hope they find whoever did it so that it never happens again.)

Earlier this week I was using one of the weight-lifting machines at the gym, when I was suddenly confronted by a Possessive Exercise Fanatic. This is the kind of person who will spend a long time on each machine because he or she does several sets on it, but the Possessive Exercise Fanatic will also alternate by doing sets on other machines. The PEF thinks that because he or she hasn't completed all of his or her sets, that means the PEF is entitled to lay claim on all the machines he or she wants to use, even if the PEF isn't actually using them at that moment.

I kind of think of the PEFs as those little kids I encountered when I was younger, who would say stuff like, "These are all MY toys, MINE! You can't play with them!" Only the PEF's version is "These are all my exercise machines, MINE, and you can't use any of them until I'm done with them, because only I shall have the muscular biceps/six-pack abs/perfect calves, weakling! Hahahahaha!"

I had seen this particular Possessive Exercise Fanatic do several sets in a row on one of the machines, but then he moved on to another machine for several minutes. I thought that meant it was okay for me to use the machine that he had left. But I had barely done one set before he was tapping his foot in front of me and saying that he was still using it.

I insisted on finishing my set rather than get up and leave right away like he wanted, though what I wanted to say was, "Last time I checked, we both pay the same membership fees, so I have just as much right to use this machine as you do. So shall I drop a dumbbell on your foot now, or later? Because it will happen NOW if you keep hogging all the machines. And stop glaring at me like that, because otherwise I'm going to introduce my sneaker to your face."

When I was riding the train, I saw a guy eat nachos covered with jalapenos, sour cream, salsa, and beef out of a fast food container. Most people (including me) tend not to eat on the train, partly because of the fear that someone might sneeze on our food. But that didn't stop this guy. He only finished eating about half of the nachos. Before he left the train, he shoved the open container under his seat, so that the rest of us could admire his half-eaten meal and smell it for the rest of the ride. I wanted to chase after him and say, "Hey! You forgot something!" Then I'd yell, "Catch!" before flinging the nachos at him.

Inconsiderate, self-centered people like the Nacho Lover and the Possessive Exercise Fanatic drive me nuts. In fact, if people like them didn't exist, this blog would be at least two hundred posts shorter. I think that one reason they bother me so much is that I was taught to be considerate of other people. The nuns and priests at the Catholic school I went to when I was younger told us that we should do at least one good deed a day, if not more, and that included being considerate of other people. I think it's also partly due to the fact that I am a writer; writers are supposed to develop a stronger awareness of their surroundings, and that includes being observant of other people and their needs. (On the other hand, I know that there are plenty of writers out there who are observant but also very rude.)

So I try to be considerate of other people, and that includes cleaning up after myself, not hogging anything, and not blasting my music or television at all hours.  I also try to help other people in small ways, at least once a day, whether it's leaving a tip for the baristas at the cafes that I write in, holding a door open for someone, buying a sandwich for a homeless person, or helping a person in a wheelchair cross the street. In other words, I try to remember what I was taught, which was that I should treat other people the way I would want to be treated.

That's why it's still disheartening when I come across supposedly mature adults who show no consideration for other people and focus solely on their own concerns, even if it hurts or annoys someone else. I'm supposed to "turn the other cheek", but what I really want to do is introduce my sneaker to their faces. But I'm not a violent person, even though sometimes I fantasize about what it would be like if I was the female version of Jackie Chan or James Bond. Then NO ONE would dare mess with me.

I often write down what I'd like to say to those people, because I know if I said it out loud it would probably start a fight. I know I shouldn't let their rude, thoughtless behavior bother me, but it does.

But fortunately, not all people are like that. On the day of the first Cubs game of the season, there were several people wearing baseball caps, jackets, and shirts with the Cubs logo on them. When I saw them on the train, I immediately thought, Oh, MAN. Now the train is going to be extra crowded, and I'm going to have to listen to them say stuff like, "Do you think if I throw up later, it'll come out blue because I'm a Cubs fan?"  I also always end up trapped on a train full of Cubs fans when it's ninety degrees outside and the A/C isn't working. (Fortunately, it was cold that day.)

The train was crowded, but when I stood up at my stop to leave, I heard several of the Cubs fans whisper to each other, "Step out of the way. She's trying to get off the train." Unlike many locals I've seen who only inch out of the way or don't move at all when other people try to get off the train, or who push and shove their way onto the train before the people in the train have a chance to get off, these people actually made a narrow path for me to get through. Their courtesy and consideration for me, a perfect stranger, made me think that chivalry really isn't dead after all. (It also made me think that maybe they were tourists who hadn't adopted the "me first" mentality that so many Chicago commuters have.)

So on the rare occasion when someone is considerate towards me or when I see someone doing a good deed for someone else, it always makes my day. That incident on the train almost made up for the time that I was in Wrigleyville after a game and saw Cubs fans peeing outside of apartment buildings.

What about you? What is an example of rude or inconsiderate behavior that bugs you, and how do you deal with it?

P.S. Is it true that there won't be a Google Reader anymore starting in July? How are we supposed to know when blogs are updated without it?


  1. I guess there are other feed readers. I'm putting my head in the sand and pretending it's not going to happen so that at the end of May I have to panic about it. It's what I do.

    1. Hi NGS,
      I've heard of other feed readers, but I still don't get why they would replace Google Reader when it (usually) works. You'd think they would have e-mailed us about it or something, and given us options for switching.

  2. Argh. I've had words with a PEF before. What is it with people who don't think of anyone but themselves? Selfishness has become an epidemic.

    My neighbors used to blast their music in their garage, which was aligned with all the bedrooms in my house. So as my children tried to fall asleep, they would have to hear the loud thuds of our neighbor's music. I happened to have made cookies one night when they were listening to their music especially loud, so I brought them a plate and asked them to turn down the music. After that, they were more considerate, but when their music got loud, I'd bring them something sweet to remind children were trying to sleep. Bribery works!

    1. Hi Emily,
      Sorry I didn't respond to your comment earlier; I accidentally missed it when I was responding to another one. Anyway, your idea of baking cookies is a great idea; winning people over with delicious goodies does sound effective, and I'm sure it would work a lot better than my method, which is yelling at my neighbors from my window. Now I just have to learn how to bake. :)

  3. I always find it funny/sad when people say things like 'so I put her in her place! No one talks like that to me!' - not realising that they're perpetuating the meanness by being snipy to the original person, and then retelling the story to supposedly make themselves look good. Why can't people just be pleasant to each other?
    Love the polite whispering Cubs fans! Habs lost the other day, and I saw a guy in a Habs jersey reach over and give a good-game handshake to the guy next to him, wearing a Torinto jersey. Aww...

    1. Hi Deniz,
      I rarely have the nerve to put people in their place in person, partly because usually the people are strangers and I have to be careful about what I say; writing down what I'd like to say, though, can give me a sense of release.

  4. Yep, there are more and more people in the world like those you described. It's kinda scary really.

    1. Hi Lynda,
      It is scary. I think I'm not the only one that gets bothered by that type of behavior, especially because I've seen people scream at each other on the train, in the street, and even one time in the laundry room. I usually turn and run in the opposite direction when that happens.