Monday, May 4, 2009
Dear Non-Hand Washer at the Gym Last Wednesday,
Your actions, or non-actions rather, have set in motion an emotional spiral to which there may be no recovery. Five years ago I had just gotten home from the gym one night. It had been a back and bicep day, which meant aside from spending some time gripping the sweaty handles of an elliptical machine, I also had my hands on over half a dozen other weight machines and bells. I was tired when I got home and went right to the fridge and grabbed a Propel and an orange. The phone rang and while distracted and talking on the phone I......I....peeled the orange...and..and..I ate it...with my dirty..germy..hands. I didn't realize what I was doing until there was like two pieces left. There was nothing I could do about it. I was haunted for weeks by thoughts of what kinds of horrible germs from dirty hands I had ingested. I was inconsolable in that post-trauma period but realized I had to get past it. My tonic was convenient rational. We are adults. Adults wash their hands, especially at the gym...people clean the weights and handles all then time...my hands weren't that dirty... It took me years to distance myself from that fateful night. I went through denial, grief, acceptance, self-forgiveness and then after a year or so the memory of it retreated to a rarely accessed corner of my mind. Well, Non-Hand Washer, you've really done it this time. I was standing at the mirror braiding my hair when you went into the bathroom stall. I had started the second braid when I heard the toilet flush and I was still there when you walked out and didn't even GLANCE at the sink. As if that didn't jolt me enough, when I walked out you were on the very machine that I had planned on going to first. (I will never touch that machine again.) Aside from the fact that you were wearing a "Planet Fitness" shirt while you were actually at Planet Fitness, you looked normal enough - mid-30s, average ponytail, semi-fit. If you are the face of a non-hand-washer then there could be hundreds of you out there that I am in contact with every day. Moreover the orange incident came screaming back to me in all its horrific glory. All that rational, the forgetting, the making peace with it - it's all un-done. It's as if I ate that orange again that Wednesday afternoon - only worse because now there is the issue of swine flu to contend with. Just know that one of these days your actions, or lack thereof, are going to come back to you 10 fold. Hepatitis, ya heard of it?
Dirty Hand Victim and Witness