Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Good Deed for the Day

A Vietnam Veteran goes to my gym (I know he's a vet because he wears a hat that advertises as such).

Sometimes when I see him, I worry that he's going to hurt himself. He appears to have received some sort of injury in the past (my first assumption is, naturally, the war) that has caused a fold of skin to cover part of his eye from the side (I'm not sure he can see out of that eye, in fact), and he has a difficult time walking. He's somewhat wheelchair bound, in fact, though he can also hobble with a cane.

And concerned as I may be when I see him, I also harbor a degree of respect for his dedication to keeping active (not to mention, his service in the military).

As you might expect, most of the weights he does are for his arms. One such exercise involves this rope he pulls over his neck, while kneeling on his knees (I don't know the name of the machine, though I've seen it in every gym I've ever been in).

Tonight I was working on leg extensions when I hear this terrible crash. I look directly in front of me to see him face down on the mat, with the rope no longer balanced in the center.

I sat still for a moment, remembering that lesson from Murderball (in sum: "we wouldn't do it if we couldn't"). But in the moment I waited, he made no motion to get up. So I walked over to him; asked if he was OK; and offered to fix the rope for him.

But by this point, he was pushing himself up, using his chair to stand and reach for the rope. He thanked me but said he was OK.

I returned to my machine and resumed my workout.

And, I swear, I'm not telling you this story in search of kudos for a good deed (truth is, I'm not sure it was)... or criticism for assuming the guy needed help.

Rather, I offer this story only as a point of comparison for the actual good deed I did today. Something truly noble that I can but hope some kind stranger will do for me some day.

***
After my workout, I went to the locker room to wash my hands and noticed a rather peculiar sight: a woman a year or two older than I was at the sink next to me, with about 16 inches of toilet paper hanging out over the top of her shorts.

I quickly looked away, and contemplated the situation as a gust of air went to work drying my hands.

She started to gather her stuff and was about to walk into the gym when I went over to her and informed her of the situation.

She was embarrassed, but grateful. I could tell by our mutual lack of eye contact and the "thank you soooo much" she said after she returned from the stall.

And here I've been worried I'm wasting my life, not doing anything good for the world...

3 comments:

disgruntled world citizen said...

well i shall give you your kudos

Anonymous said...

good deeds are a slippery slope. my (current and regretable) job description requires the doing of good deeds on a daily basis to the effect of teaching people to fish - and occasionally lifting 40 lbs to waist level. and as you say, the passing on of good deeds begs the question of someone looking for good deeds. well, this job (at an alternative school for middle school students kicked out of regular school) does not automatically come with people looking for good deeds. it comes with little bastards. now fortunately, a year or so ago I went from a salary to hourly position, so I no longer have a financial obligation to commit continual good deeds after leaving work. however, being a generally decent (descent) human being I am communally or internally obligated to perform additional good deeds, hopefully to people slightly more willing.
all of this only serves to remind me of how far I have gotten away from me - an understandably common affliction for a gemini as myself. I got into a slight ammount of trouble in high school (I would advise this to all youth) for refusing to acknowledge any possible career other than being a hermit. living in the woods and writing poems and eating potato soup. this hermit is the center of my being. my greatest contribution and good deed to society should be the gift of poem, and the gift of myself being left alone. isolation. not that I don't need people, because I do, but I certainly don't need this many of them. I think my world could be four friends a woman and a father.
anyway - where was this going? good deeds or something. good deeds are like everything else. they happen or they don't. they are expected or unwanted. we know them or we don't. we live and we die and in a thousand years no one will know us. thank God.

ds

Anonymous said...

Ya know, some people wouldn't think what you did was that big of a deal. I, on the other hand, think it is huge. That kind of embarrassment would ruin my day at the very least.
~BPP