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A defining moment

The year was 2004.
I was still in the rat race.
It was 7:00am, on a weekday.

I was in front of the *locked* gym doors.
They were supposed to be open by 7am.
I pushed & pulled on them, no use. It was all dark inside too!
I was pissed… after all, with the gym only opening at 7am, one can hardly get more than a 20min workout, then you have to cool down, shower, throw on yr office clothes, dump sweaty clothes back into the car then head up to the office. Good thing for me my project was kinda flexible, and so long we were in before 830am we weren’t really considered tardy…
But…. if I couldn’t get in at 7am on the dot, well, that whole sequence is shot to pieces!!
The gym is located in the basement of the office building. I take the escalator up in order to get a signal on my phone. I call the gym. As soon as someone answers, I snap: why are you not open yet? The fella on the other side says “But, we are open, ma’am! Where are you?” “I was in front of your doors 30 seconds ago!” “I’m sorry ma’am, the person who was supposed to be at the counter wasn’t there, but I rushed up when the phone rang, so I am here now, you can come in.” “Yeah, you *better* be open…”

I stomp back down, major frown on my face, scowl at the guy as he swipes my card; he apologises again, but I am very curt with him; I proceed to dump my stuff in the locker room and rush to the elliptical machine for my very rare morning workout.
My mood is kinda spoilt, tho…. I’m pissed off about how late I’m gonna end up being for work no thanx to the delay in starting the workout… but very soon my thoughts turn to how bad I felt about snapping at the poor instructor like that… what a way for *him* to start the day, eh?

It really bugged me that I knew I could get away with it: after all, I had seen so many people who think they are above the “mere” “lowly” gym instructors and give them a difficult time, not giving them any respect… so I could play the role of “outraged customer” and get away with it,,,, except that it was certainly *not* my style. Yet apologizing to him seemed, well, difficult. But it would be the right thing to do.

I made up my mind.

At the end of my 20mins, I got off my machine, went up to him, and apologized for how I had spoken to him earlier. I said something like “My being annoyed is no excuse for being rude to you, and I’m sorry for being so harsh earlier.”

Oh, the look on his face – it was totally worth it :-)
Of course, he pooh-poohed the whole incident, said it was no big deal, he understood how one would be annoyed not to find the gym open when one needed to be in on the dot, and how he’d dealt with so many different characters over the years as an instructor he’s pretty much built up immunity to their harsh words, so don’t worry about it.
But you could see that my apology had made a huge positive impact on him.

And the unanticipated side-effect: *I* felt good that I’d helped turn what might have been a bad day from him, back around. The high that I felt lasted quite a while – a sign that it really was the right thing to do.

And on my subsequent trips to the gym, everything went pretty much as usual – after all, me being the loner type, I don’t mix much with either the other customers of the instructors anyway. But me & him, ever since that incident, we’d always exchange smiles and greetings. I dunno what would pass through *his* mind when he saw me, but for me, I’d be reminded of the day I set my pride aside, and helped turn around a crummy start to his day.

Eating humble pie was such a small price to pay for making someone else’s day.

Why was this a defining moment for me? I can’t satisfactorily put it into words: it’s about reaffirming that one does not have to be a slave to pride and emotions; that genuinely putting other people’s feelings and welfare over one’s own is neither weakness nor shortcoming; that the more one gives, the more one does get in return.

You get my drift.

How about you, dear readers, any of your own defining moments you’d like to share? I’d love to read about them in your blogs :-)


  1. Eating humble pie is good for the soul, very much like chicken soup. Cheers lynne! :D


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