Taking responsibility

Posted by Doc
Sep 11 2012

This morning I was at the gym (as is frequently the case). In the time I’ve been going to this particular Gold’s Gym (since it opened 5 or 6 years ago), I’ve never seen someone injured or have any kind of problem that required immediate care. Sure some of us bang ourselves, strain muscles, and otherwise create our own events. But I’ve never seen something that I would consider an emergency.

Until today.

I went to use a piece of equipment. As I was walking over, I saw a man lying on the floor, and a staff member standing over him. My first thought was that a trainer was working with this fellow and having him do something. My next thought was still that it was a trainer, but that he was allowing his client to rest. It was an odd place for either, since it was along the path to the men’s locker room.

Then I realized that the man standing was not a trainer, but a member of the housekeeping staff. And a moment later, the receptionist came up with the phone to her ear. And I realized that the man on the floor was older, somewhat heavy, resting his upper body on a jacket or shirt (his upper body was bare), and while he was breathing, he was not moving around.

These two staff members stood over the man, one talking on the phone, the other talking to/at the man on the floor.

Now, I have to admit that I did not jump in. I saw two people there, and allowed myself to believe that they had things under control.

One of the trainers came up at the same time as one of my gym buddies. I say “gym buddy” because we’ve shaken hands, exchanged a few words now and then, smile at each other consistently, and without knowing him at all I like him. I didn’t know his name, I don’t know what he does for a living or his hobbies or anything else. I just know that I interpret him as likable and a good guy, based on my experience of his behavior.

This guy (whom I now know to be named David) came up, squatted down to the level of the man on the floor, leaned in and started speaking with him. He reached out and touched the man on the floor. He took the man’s towel, on which he was partially lying, and wiped the man’s face and head.

I realized at that moment that David didn’t think about who was already there, or whether they were taking appropriate or necessary action. He did what was clearly natural to him, and very appropriate to the situation.

Having been in a situation similar to that man on the floor, I can tell you how important it is to have someone down at the same level, touching me, comforting me, and seeming to be completely focused on me.

That’s what David did.

I walked up to David and ask “What type of service are you in or were you in?”

“Why do you ask?” he asked.

“I saw you get down to that man’s level, talk gently to him, and touch him, and that was a wonderful thing to do. I wondered if it was part of what you do or used to do.”

David paused, gave me a little smile, and said “No, I’m not in any service.”

David has my respect and admiration. David did what was needed in a very personal, human, sensitive way. He made contact with the man on the floor, treating him as a human being, not a problem to be dealt with.

To be fair, the staff members were not being rude or distant or harsh. The trainer who had come up around the same time as David had also squatted down. But it was David who – seemingly without any consideration or deliberation – immediately did what he apparently saw as appropriate.

Of course, I asked David’s name, which – duh – I now know to be David. I don’t know his last name. I still don’t know what he does for a living or his hobbies or his family situation or anything else.

I do know that I would do anything in my power for David.

David, if you’re reading this – I wasn’t kidding. Ask me for anything.

Responsibility. Humanity. Caring. Presence. Giving.


P.S. The fire emergency team arrived – an engine and an emergency vehicle. They immediately took over. I spoke with David, then we all pretty much went back to what we’d been doing. Well, except David. After the EMTs took the man out, I saw David go back to where they’d been, and come back out carrying the man’s possessions. You rock, David!

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