It didn’t used to be like this. I never worried about getting shot. Now I do.
There is an unusual person at my gym. He is a young man maybe in his 30’s. I thought he had a form of Tourette’s as he would occasionally yell out weird things to no one in particular. It would often be directed at the TV news shows where he thought people should be put to death for whatever they did. “Fry the bastards” is his battle cry.
Now I’m convinced he has a different form of mental illness but I can’t gauge how violent he is. Judging by the weights he lifts, he is very strong but you don’t need to be strong to use a gun.
He is easily agitated. I once used a piece of equipment that he intended to use next (but was not on). After a scolding, I learned to avoid him at the gym. That’s easy to do because it’s not busy at the time we’re there and equipment is readily available.
My friend told me that there was an “altercation” last week that required the manager to mediate. Someone wanted to use a piece of equipment he was not using but was “saving” with a towel. (That’s not allowed.) The other guy was very polite but stood his ground. The manager intervened but the argument spilled out into the parking lot.
Except for a handful of young’uns, the average age of the folks at that time has to be in the high 70’s. (I bring the age down. We have a lot of folks in their 80’s.) We’re peace-loving hippies from the 60’s. Most of the regular old guys are not fit. No one really cares what someone else does. Live and let live and all that.
My friend thinks he is the kind of person who would come in with a gun. I already thought that which is why I avoid him and always check the exits when he is there. It’s possible he’s non-violent but he sure gets angry fast.
He wasn’t there that morning but I finished my routine and got the hell out. I thought about the manager who handled it and how he is stuck there, a sitting duck.
I also developed plans on what I would do if it happened. I don’t carry my cell phone on me at the gym but I know how to get out fast and where to go for help (assuming I’m not dead).
When did this change in society happen? Why do I have to worry about getting shot at a gym? You don’t have to be involved in a dispute. You can get killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Buying groceries. Picking up books in a library. I can’t be bothered by this but I prepare escapes.
See something, say something. I didn’t see anything. The guy is odd but that’s not against the law. The gym is full of odd people but they are not frightening. Maybe I’ll have a discreet discussion with the manager. He may know him well and can put me at ease. Or not.
Always have an escape plan.
Author’s note: I penned this last week. I saw him this week and his demeanor was different. He gave me a good morning. That’s a first in the year and a half I’ve been going there and wished me a good day when I left. Maybe he adjusted his meds. I don’t know.