Can You Take Some Feedback?

I have no desire to make society conform to my way of thinking. That would make society excruciatingly boring. Plus I’d probably be as irritated with other people as often as I get irritated with myself.

But I’m a little intolerant of those who refuse to conform to the mores that are in place for the betterment of all. For example, don’t you find it a tad disrespectful when the person seated next to you on the airplane takes of his shoes and socks…and then crosses his leg to rub his feet a few inches from your person? Where is an armed air marshal when you need one? How about the person in the movie theater who spoils the ending? Or the blue tooth user who believes that since he is hands-free that no one nearby can hear his loud conversation?

And then there is the type of dirtbag for whom a new level of hell should be created: the person at the gym who doesn’t wipe the machine after using it. As George Costanza would say, “We’re trying to have a society here!” How can we consider ourselves civilized if we refuse to wipe our sweat off the machines? It should be obvious. There are signs all over the place, too, which to me seems as ridiculous as putting signs near the bathroom sinks that say, “These are NOT urinals.” Shouldn’t some things just be assumed?

Anyway, a long time ago, I decided that I would not lose my cool when I saw these most heinous of sweaters at the gyms. Instead, I remembered that when I first started going, I didn’t always remember, either. It was like I had so many new things on my mind—like not shooting off the back-side of the treadmill—that little things like wiping got forgotten. With this in mind, I decided to be helpful instead of a hater.

Whenever I observe someone who has not wiped off the machine after use, I bring him or her a bottle of cleaner and a paper towel. I practice no glaring, I mouth no words like “You. Are. A. Fil. Thy. An. Im. Al.” I don’t even establish eye contact. Hey, I’m not the Holy Spirit here. It’s not my job to confront others with their sins or crimes. But as a member of society, I feel compelled to make workout equipment as sweat-free as possible.

So yesterday, I’m at the gym. I see a transgressor. I should point out that I’ve gone months without observing a sweat criminal. It just so happened that yesterday, I saw one.

Looking at the perpetrator, I started to rethink my plan. The sight of this guy scared me. First of all, he had muscles. I mean, he had muscles on his muscles. He looked like he spent hours each day here. It dawned on me that this guy could kill me with a harsh stare. Second, he had tattoos. Tattoos don’t scare me. I have plenty of my own. But compared to his skulls, blood-dripping corpses and what may have been a pile of dead puppies, my tattoos look like a field of sunflowers cropped with daffodils. Finally, the guy had a shirt that read, “I’d hit that.” I wasn’t sure, but I got the distinct impression that the “that” his shirt referred to was the last guy who suggested he de-sweat a workout machine.

What the heck. Got to die of something, right? So when I was done with my machine, I placed a bottle and paper towel next to where this guy sat. Then I walked away swiftly, doing my best to NOT turn around in hopes he wouldn’t kill me from behind.

A few minutes later, something weird happened. When I opened my eyes after my next workout station, the guy was standing next to me motioning me to lower my earphones.

Great, I though. He wants to tell me why he’s going to kill me before he pulls off my arms and beats me to death with them.

Instead, he did something different.

“Thanks, man, for the reminder. This is my first time at this gym, and there’s a lot of new things to remember,” said the muscle-man with death ink.

Then he walked away. My arms remained attached. Despite my fears to the contrary, I lived.

So what’s my point. I have two actually.

First, only a fool despises feedback and correction. We all need to be nudged and prompted from time to time. How else can we improve?

Second, and this one is obvious, please wipe the machine down after you use it.

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