Why Don’t People Care?
By: Patrick Maguire
Book Chapter: Manners / Gratitude
Do you ever wonder why some people just don’t care unless it involves them? The question will be discussed at length in my book, but I want to put it out there for discussion.
Last night when I got to the gym at 8 o’clock, the locker room was packed as the after-work crowd was getting ready to head home or out on the town. I searched for some space to change, farthest away from all other humans. I finally found a corner with a little breathing room and a bench. As is often the case, a wet, used towel was on top of the bench, along with 2 wooden hangers that are usually inside of the lockers. It always amazes me that people who work out at a gym are too lazy to clean up after themselves. (Huge personal pet peeve.) I envision, Someone else will get it, going through the minds of the offenders, if anything at all. So much for leaving an area the way you’d like to find it.
After working out, I went to the very small steam room inside of the men’s locker room. There was one guy inside the steam, sitting on the left side of the L-shaped bench that can accommodate 4 guys, max. I sat on the right side of the bench, on the opposite side, and as far away from the other guy as possible. Despite the fact that the gym is only a few years old, the temperature in the steam room is usually one extreme or the other, and very erratic. So there we were, 2 guys wrapped in towels in a cold steam room, waiting for the heat, careful not to make eye contact. The awkward silence in a steam or sauna is much worse than riding in an elevator, because it usually lasts longer. It’s even worse after you say hello and get no response, regardless of how innocuous or terse the greeting is.
This reminds me of comedian Stephen Wright’s quip; When I was little, my grandfather used to make me stand in a closet for 5 minutes without moving. He said it was elevator practice. It could have also been steam room practice.
Finally, the tension broke as the steam came roaring on and the temperature started to climb. As the heat and humidity started to kick in, someone opened the door, didn’t even look in, and let the door close very slowly, allowing the precious heat to escape. Guy #1 and I both made noises in disgust implying, What was that? Eventually another guy (#3) walks in and Guy #1 doesn’t slide over to make room for him. I’m already sitting at the end of my bench, so there’s nowhere for me to go. Guy #3 doesn’t push the issue, and decides to stand. Another guy walks in and hurriedly brushes by standing Guy#3, and approaches the bench #1 is on as if to say, Make room, now, without even asking the guy who was there before him if he was waiting for a seat. Guy #1 did slide over, and eventually when he left, he let the door close slowly, instead of quickly slamming it behind him…
As I sat there in my own little world, with my head down, occasionally lifting my eyes only high enough to watch what was going on, the questions, What makes people thoughtful?, and Why don’t some people care? came to mind. Is it really that hard to think about how we would want to be treated while interacting and/or sharing space with other human beings? Apparently, for some people it is.
As I left the locker room, I counted fourteen steps from the bench the dirty towel was on, to the closest laundry bin that I had to pass on the way out.
So much for de-stressing at the gym. I guess if it weren’t for “them” I wouldn’t have a book to write…
I’m interested to hear your experiences and theories. Thank you.