Return to the Health Gulag 2

Image of small exercise room with various machines I was feeling quite chipper when I arrived at the Rehab gym for my morning session. I had signed up for an 8 week program designed to boost my heart's performance and increase my overall endurance and strength. I was half-way through the program and I had upped my exercize level. I was looking forward to a good workout.

The nurse, who always calls me "mon beau monsieur", took my blood pressure and pulse. It was a little low so she advised me work harder. So I did. I began with a 10 minute warm-up walk around in the gym walking lanes. Then it was 15 minutes of increased power walking.

There were other lads also walking at their own paces. Some were competitive and who could not abide a slower walker so they would pass them. They were like drivers who always have to pass the car ahead of them at any speed. One fellow was particularly afflicted with this attitude. He would pass me, then cut in front of me in my lane. We were sharing a lane but each time he passed me, he cut closer and closer, once causing me to back off to avoid hitting him.

Whale shit, I thought, this is going to stop NOW. He came around again and began to pass me. We had reach the part of the lane that was by the nurse's station. He cut in close and I sped up ever so slightly. His foot came down in front of mine as he brushed by me. My foot came down hard on the heel of his sneaker. The rest followed the laws of momentum and gravity. The heel of the sneaker came off, his other foot came around to regain balance but now blocked the affected foot. His feet tangled and he did a perfect face plant into the hardwood floor.

The nurse saw everything and she came running over. Without even glancing at me, she hauled the asshole to his feet. "My God, Roger, what were you thinking in cutting off poor Monsieur Jean? You could have caused him an injury!" Roger looked confused and then contrite as it sunk in that the nurse saw through his antics. We resumed our walking and he stayed clear of me but glared each time he passed me. I ignored him.

I switched to the reclining cycle for my 15 minutes of intense cycling. Sitting there with legs pumping, I noticed that a new fellow had joined the class. He was a very frail, thin Oriental man that the nurses were fussing over. They fitted him with a portable heart monitor as they did to all newbies but he could barely walk and carry the thing. I felt sorry for him each time he passed by my cycling station.

The session ended with a cool down and a set of stretching exercises using either weights or elastic bands. We also got a short lecture on some health issue or other. Then, it was back to the nurse station for another blood pressure and pulse check. The frail Chinaman was at the desk with his wife (who translated for him). They were standing right where I had left my water bottle on the counter. I could not get to it because of the crowd all trying to leave at the same time. I didn't want to push the Chinaman aside so I gently slid my arm between him and his wife and grabbed my bottle.

Holy Shiite! The old gook blew a fuse and began berating me in Chinese something fierce. He called me Dragon shit and worse insults, I'm sure of it. I was facing him. He still had on the heart monitor and I could see his results on the monitor behind the counter. The nurse was busy with other folk and wasn't watching. I watched as his heart began to spike while the level of insults he was hurling at me was increasing. I became concerned but he thought I was being condescending. More insults followed and the monitor began to go crazy.

I did the only thing I could think of - I stepped forward and embraced him in a full, manly hug. Now, hugs are not part of Oriental culture, especially from a round-eyed stranger. He struggled feebly in my arms as he raged and blamed the whole world for his medical and physical problems. I held him gently and whispered, "It's OK. It's OK." His wife said something in Chinese, her eyes glistening with moisture. The old man shuddered and stopped struggling. It was as if the dam of his pride had breached, letting all the pent-up emotions drain out of him.

I stared at the monitor. The nurse had finally noticed and seemed shocked at the heart rate. She seemed ready to call 911. Then, we both saw the heart rate slowly subside. A few moments later she gently told me it was OK to let him go. I let his wife take over and went to the change room.

I changed back into civilian clothes when Roger approached me. Fuck, I thought, here we go. He stopped and said, "Look, I'm sorry about cutting you off." He held out his hand. I shook it and turned away. "By the way," he continued, "That was a decent thing you did for the old Chinaman." I looked at him and lisped, "Thanks, do you want a hug too?" The other lads in the room laughed and Roger's face turned beet red.

The next sesssion could be fun.

Submitted by Jean Brasseur, 31 December 2018