Shootings – The after effect

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.

105 thoughts on “Shootings – The after effect

  1. This is heartbreaking for me. I worry about all my American family and friends and all of their worries. Can’t imagine how it feels to be looking for escape routes in normal public places. I often find myself thinking “things don’t have to be this way!!” I think your idea about a discrete talk with the manager is a good one. He/She might have more information that could put your mind at ease. Alternately, if the business knows that customers are disturbed (I am sure you are not alone), it might lead to this particular problem disappearing from the place.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s disturbing. I’m surprised no one has reported him. After the incident that spilled into the parking lot, it seems a manager would have the right to ban him from the gym. But that might create it’s own set of problems if he has issues which require medication. Being in HR, like you, for too many years, I was always looking over my shoulder after I let someone go. The walk to the car at night was sometimes a little unsettling. We live in a very different world, one that requires you to face the door when eating in restaurants, or checking emergency exits in theaters, or any number of other precautions we take now that we never thought twice about years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I was worked, there were several times we were threatened. One time an employee’s boyfriend was getting out of jail and he told her that he was coming in to her workplace to kill her. That was an exciting day. Fortunately she took off but the rest of us were here. Lots of loonies out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think we’ve all just heard too many stories and for me they at least stand as warnings to be as alert and careful as we can. We recognize that we can’t avoid all danger, but when someone’s behavior has a threatening component to it strikes me as important to be very cautious. I would be the same, Kate. Personally, I believe that if his behaviors escalate it’s up to the gym management to take care of it! I would really hope it all just takes care of itself for you. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That would make me nervous, too! After the movie theater shooting in Colorado, the theater I go to hired a huge security guard (it was the same theater chain as the shooting). I’m not sure that made me feel any safer though. But the first few times I went, I always looked at escape routes, too. Very sad that it’s come to that.

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  5. I don’t like to say it, but he probably has a drug addiction, and mental illness. If not the addiction, he may even be a schizophrenic. Regardless of what he has or does not have, he ought to be banned from the gym because of the confrontation. Its putting people at risk. Mayhaps, someone ought to talk to the manager, and ask for him to be prohibited from entry because he is dangerous. Myself, I would not be comfortable returning there until I knew he was no longer there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t see the confrontation myself so I can’t ask to have him banned on heresay. He makes me uncomfortable sometimes but there are other people who do too. Not everyone who is “weird” is homicidal. I will talk to the manager who has to have a better handle on this than I do. In the meantime I will avoid him and be gracious if our paths cross. As I responded earlier. He has been very different this past week.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Read the book, “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker. It’s bang on. I used to blissfully oblivious, not anymore. I’m not scared, just have had a few too many reality checks I guess. Trust your instincts — my “spidey senses” I call ’em … they’re NEVER wrong!

    MJ

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is no safe place these days. I could go to another gym and find another crazy person. Or I could go to the mall and be involved in a shooting or car jacking. Stuff happens and other than being vigilant, there is no way to avoid it except to cocoon.

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  7. I get it Kate. I have become uncomfortable in crowds. Going to the theater I try to sit away from other people but near and exit. I am anxious in crowds at festivals and the like. I remove my engagement ring and hide my cell phone in my pants waistband if I am walking from the parking lot to my apartment at night. This is all new behavior and anxiety. I think it is from shootings and trucks rolling into crowds. What kind of a people are we becoming? I am becoming anxious

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    • As you can see my “anxiety point” has been lowered considerably with what’s happening. I don’t understand it all. People can’t seem to have differing opinions without it ending up in attacks either verbal or physical. At least in our area young people are “disrespected” so easily and that requires a killing too. Thinning of the herd? Darwin rolling in his grave?

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      • I have noticed with some US friends, an oddity in perspective which (in fairness to you guys) may be prevalent elsewhere … but I have only experienced it with US folk. That is there is very little “middle of road” opinions in dialogues. You had an early President who was quoted as saying “You’re either for us, or your against us!” That is (and was) fighting talk, and made no allowance for neutrality. Where I have come across a similar perspective (quite a few times) is when I express something like an indifference to something, the response has often been “So you hate it?” This has even come up with a food taste circumstance where I was asked what I thought. “It’s not bad, but not really to my taste.” – resulted in “So you hate it?”

        Having love/hate emotions without recognizing varying degrees of same, and even total neutrality, can surely do nothing except exacerbate sensitivities. Throw readily available firearms into the equation and …………………….!

        Liked by 1 person

        • You are right. On a humorous side, I had lunch yesterday with some women from my old gym. The restaurant is known for steak sandwiches and hot dogs. I always get the hot dog. One woman announced that she didn’t like hot dogs and then she ordered one because so many of us did. Maybe she wanted to see what was so special. When she got it she complained about it the rest of the lunch. She hated it. There is no middle of the road with them. Not with politics, food, clothing or anything else. I sat licking ketchup off my plate and teleported myself to lalaland. I have developed some great coping skills. I have also become comfortable saying that I don’t have a strong opinion about something when I don’t. I don’t like the color orange and I’ll share that too. You absolutely cannot talk politics without putting your life in jeopardy.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I did a Post some time ago on politics in the US and Trump and firearms … and received a very “objectionable” Comment from some guy in the US who apparently always had a concealed gun on him! Where on earth is that vigilante culture coming from?

            Liked by 1 person

            • The wild west? Not sure. I only know one person who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon and he is a die hard gun advocate. Back in the old days we would agree to disagree. Now we attack and belittle people of a different view. I know where the mainstreaming of that attitude came from.

              Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s been a while since I saw anyone who worried me. I worry about my daughter, though. She’s a prosecutor. She tells me stories about the people she prosecutes, and some of them are very erratic and violent. She also goes twice a week to Mental Health Court. Because of her job, she tries her best to guard her privacy.

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  9. I wonder if his muscles get help from steroids and that is where is his rage comes from.

    Not that it matters. The outcome is what matters.

    Unless his new demeanor his lasting, I think having a conversation with the manager isn’t a terrible idea. Or if there is another gym to consider. They seem to sprout up like weeds around here. Every strip mall has a fitness center. And if it doesn’t it’s probably coming soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m taking it one day at a time. If I get a chance, I’ll discuss with manager privately. Since I wasn’t there for the “fight” I’m not exactly sure why it escalated. My friend said that the “other member” was not at all aggressive.

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  10. As a federal employee, our workplace is a target of sorts. They gave us training called “ruling, hide, or fight” it was an eye-opener but practical. It may be available on YouTube. I discussed the course at length with my high school-aged kid. Everyone needs to think about these things before they happen.

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  11. I don’t blame you for being wary of the guy. How odd that he changed his demeanor all of a sudden. If I was there, I’d probably talk to the manager to get info, too. Especially since you also had a “situation” with him and some equipment.

    I try to remember to device escape plans wherever I go. I’m actually paranoid about going to the movies, because each theater doesn’t always have an outdoor exit. They always did years ago.

    My husband has a guy at work that flies off the handle at the blink of an eye and is always complaining. He got moved out of my husband’s department, but he’s still in the same building. My husband says he’s harmless and just a blustering fool. I never wished for “just a blustering fool” so hard in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think way too often for my own good. I like to stop at a Waffle House on the one morning I go to my part-time job, and I always sort of calculate in my mind if that’s a good thing to do or not. It’s insane we have to think this way. I suppose what’s even more insane is that school children now think the same things. I’m glad this guy was nice to you finally. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It is a sad state of affairs that ‘active shooter’ is in our daily lexicon. Colorado just passed a red flag gun control measure and people are up in arms about it. Frankly I don’t think unstable appearing people should be allowed guns (but I’m not a gun person anyway). The last time the Democratic controlled legislature passed gun control (following the Aurora movie shooting) Republicans recalled a number of state senators and took control of the senate and stalled every piece of gun legislation hence forward till they lost the house, senate and every state office last November.

    Sounds like the gym guy went back on meds to make that kind of turn-around. For your peace of mind and safety I hope he stays that way. Fingers crossed for all the gym peeps. No one should have to live with a safety plan in place in case of a shooting.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Whoa! That is downright scary. Maybe the manager has had enough complaints that he threatened to cancel the guy’s membership. But you are right…seems horrible that we have to plan escape routes. I grew up expecting the best of people…now we just don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have to hang in there though. The rest of the gym people are either friendly or oblivious (I go early and some people didn’t have their caffeine yet). Planning makes me feel better. My older brother was injured when a kiln he was repairing malfunctioned and sent hot ash on him. What save him was that he had replanned his escape route. No hesitation. Must run in the family.

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  15. This is sobering. I grew up feeling comfortable that I was about the only one without a gun. I trusted those with guns and never had reason to fear them. I must become more aware of people around me, and, like you, always plan my exit.

    My top worry these days is the use of phones for texting. We were almost hit by a motorist on our daily walk, and I’ll bet he was texting. I’ve seen lots of people holding a phone in front of the steering wheel. It takes only a few seconds of inattention, and someone is dead!

    I hope something happens to make you feel more comfortable at the gym. It’s incongruous that you go there for your physical health and have your mental health threatened.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Truth be told I’m more worried about the inattentive car drivers because the probability of that happening is greater. I have no intention of getting a gun because I’d blow my toes off. The guy has changed at the gym and I don’t know why (which can be as frightening) but as time goes on and nothing happens, this too shall pass.

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      • Distracted driving has been an issue here as well and our laws have recently been changed accordingly:

        “Drivers who are caught talking on their phones, texting, dialing or emailing using a hand-held device, such as a cell phone and other entertainment devices will be fined up to $1,000 with a three-day licence suspension and three demerit points.

        Drivers with more than one distracted driving conviction will face a fine of up to $2,000, a seven-day licence suspension and six demerit points, while motorists who have been caught driving distracted more than two times will pay a fine of up to $3,000 and lose their license for 30 days.”

        By all accounts, the message is starting to get out as those fines impact people!

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Kate, I so know how you feel. After having some experience with that fear within our family last March, as you know. I think it’s wise to listen to your little voice if it has something to say. That kind of anger can be a precursor to violence. I would also be cautious of the recent change in his demeanor. I think your escape plan and cautious thinking is an excellent choice. Being shot is always in the back of my mind… I now really take in my surroundings. Be careful, Kate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always know if he’s there. I know his car. (My God! Am I a stalker?) I take in my surroundings too. A few years back a strange looking guy walked into my Starbucks with a backpack. He sat down without ordering (or using the bathroom). He stared out the window for a few minutes. Eventually he left without buying and with his backpack. I had my eye on him. His behavior was strange but he could have been waiting for a bus or something. It was his demeanor (angry looking) that had me concerned. There is the occasional homeless guy that wonders in for a free drink or to warm up but they look very different.

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  17. Rage and violent behavior is tearing civilized countries apart.
    We have laws against murder, harming others, robbery…but so many now simply ignore laws. Self centered desires. inflated sense of importance, lack of emotional control, steroid use, mental illness – what ever the reason, it’s not good.
    Always look for an exit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never thought of that. While he’s strong and does weights, his body doesn’t have that overworked ripply look. He’s on the slim side. Things are calmer now and I don’t know what happened to change that either.

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  18. I wish I could say don’t worry. Last November a guy shot and killed two women at a yoga studio a couple of miles from where I live. He would have killed more if one of the students hadn’t tackled him. (The shooter later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.) I practice yoga but not at that particular studio. However I knew one of the women who was killed. All I can say is now I’m hyper-aware even at my yoga classes. I take notice of strangers. I keep my phone close by. My husband and I are keenly aware of aggressive behavior at our gym. Often it’s by men who are likely taking steroids. I would talk to the manager, express your concerns. He might know more and can perhaps reassure you. Hopefully the guy is really no threat.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I wonder about getting shot wherever I go: the mall, the grocery, the park. It’s unnerving but I won’t let it slow me down. This country NEEDS more mental health professionals treating people and fewer guns in circulation. Don’t see it happening any time soon because too many unhinged wackos are in charge, but that’s the solution. Mark my words.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. I think it interesting that both Australia and New Zealand took immediate action after a mass shooting. Firearms were not banned, but certain types are no longer legal. It will not totally stop shootings, and may not even prevent another mass shooting …. but it sure as hell makes things more difficult. It sure as hell makes it easier to enforce the law (you carry an assault rifle … you are charged). If those two countries can do it … one has to ask an obvious question about societal and the elected government’s priorities in the US.

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  21. As you say, you just need to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that’s IT.
    I have a fear of drunks, totally different kettle of fish I know, but they scare me as they are unpredictable. There was one at darts last night, we arrived at 7.15 and he was already three parts cut. I was anxious he was playing for the opposition, and he also wouldn’t leave Maggie alone. Hubby and Maggie left before play, and although he sat with the other side, he didn’t participate.
    There are places I won’t go on my own when it’s getting dark, even with the dog. Even in daylight, I am likely to cross the road or go off in a different direction than intended rather than pass a group of youths. They make me nervous. I always look for exits and alternative routes or means of escape, so you are not alone there Kate.
    The meds thing could be reality. I don’t think it would hurt to voice your concern discreetly with the manager though. Chances are you’re not the only one. Take care my friend.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. I was just having a similar onversation last night with my daughter’s boyfriend. He was saying how when he and my daughter were at the movies last week he found himself nervous because of knowing of shootings that had happened at theaters.
    Its really sad that our young people have to grow up fearing a bullet from a gun!!! That any of us do!! Its not right, but I refuse to let it stop me from living life. its always good to be alert and to know what you will do in an emergency, but like Nancy said, try not to let worry consume you!
    Treat yourself to an extra Latte for the stress! I pray that this guy is harmless and that the way he greeted you this week, will become the norm!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. “When did this change in society happen?”

    Everytime a shooting occurs this question is asked repeatedly. A school shooting, a mass shooting – the pundits and politicians ask “What’s wrong with America ?” and indict the entire society and blame Trump and gun owners and call for that “national conversation”. We should not attack the entire society of 325 million when an individual goes ballistic and there really is no solution. With all the guns out there the evidence is that the country is mostly full of sensible sane people or shootings would occur by the dozens daily. I agree that having such thoughts of “”Will I be shot today?” is not encouraging and dreadful because such thoughts should not invade our space but it is now natural that they do. Part of our world. No one is immune from evil. But as Jessie Jackson said many years ago when visiting the site of a school shooting in Atlanta “We must be driven by our hopes not our fears.” Drive-by shootings occur in Miami, Florida so frequently they often do not make the evening news or the next day’s newspaper. My family members have survived 5 such shootings and were not the intended targets. Kids grow up knowing they or a friend might be shot anyday. That’s just horrible that children have been inured to that point and have a degree of acceptance of the possibilities. In Chicago 30 – 50 people can be shot on any particular weekend. It is unfortunate that our world is contaminated with such ugly stains.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was fortunate in that I didn’t grow up with such fears. Shootings didn’t happen in my area. There were criminals and laws broken but not mass shootings. I live in a big hunting area. Most of the deaths were caused by cars and the occasional hunter accident. Unfortunately we have gang shootings here now and sometimes the victims are collateral damage.

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  24. I still think the USA needs tighter gun laws. You can’take stop people being aggressive, mentally ill, naturally unkind but you can stop them having access to guns. In England we have a problem with knives which is harder to controlled.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Good post.I think about this, too. Every time I run into an entitled white guy at the gym or in a parking lot. (I run into a lot of entitled old white ladies at the Y, too, but the worst thing they do is complain to the life guards about their hair being splashed — while they are doing light water aerobics. In a pool.)

    Then it makes me angry that I have to walk on eggshells around these jerks because I worry that one is a gun-toting incel just looking for an excuse to gun women down because he feels he’s not getting all he deserves from the world (and he of course deserves hot young women, money, fame, and apparently unfettered access to exercise equipment).

    I’m sorry you had to deal with one, too. It can really spoil a happy place.

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  26. I’ve always been a cautious person paying attention to my surroundings. Working for the police department for the past seven years has been an eye-opening experience. I’ve learned to always trust my instinct and avoid situations/people who make me feel uneasy. You’re right, any of us can be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Just last week, not far from my office, a young mother was driving to class in the middle of the day and was shot and killed when random gun fire broke out on the street. We live in a different world where for some, human life has no value. Stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve always been cautious too although I was more concerned about things other than getting shot. Even as a kid I would look for exit signs and I always listen to the plane folks go through the emergency instructions just in case something has changed.

      Liked by 1 person

    • All that is nice to say but when you have real fear, it’s hard to feel. Time eases all (although it doesn’t stop the shootings). I will continue to be cautiously friendly and hope for the best. That’s what’s in my control.

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  27. scary … and that’s what I ask me too… when did it start that there is no longer a limit ? fights happen but as I was young we had rules of honor somehow… but this time everything is out of control… and even for nothing… what caused this horrible aggression into people that they even are ready to take our lives? …dtriver bring me somewhere sunny, but it has to be my own island…

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