Felt like sharing an anecdote. I was working out in the gym today and overdid the weights on one of the exercises. Now, in America, unless your orifices emanate green-colored likenesses of Benjamin Franklin at regular intervals, tying a personal trainer to yourself is a bad idea. Even if it is to “spot” you for an exercise. And so I struggled with the bar, just unable to get it back onto the hook. Contingency plan had to kick into action and fast. So I maneuvered it onto my legs and prevented a serious accident. Just then I spotted a guy diffidently but swiftly move into view and offer to help. I was just recovering from the adrenaline rush of a near-miss so I dismissed him with a hand-wave. The man’s expression was a fascinating mix of utter embarrassment, mortification and puzzlement. I could guess why.
In this country where individualism is a matter of pride, unwanted help is seen as an intrusion. A form of disrespect, as if to say “you’re incapable of doing this yourself”. Even if that help is sincere, the way it is offered is critical. The man committed no infraction. I was just too casual in my response.
He immediately backtracked, gave me a limp smile and fucked off as fast as his legs could carry him.
Later, as I wound up, I saw him on the treadmill and stopped by.
“Mate, thanks so much for offering to help me back there. Although I managed to stay out of trouble it means a lot to me that you noticed and came to help. Appreciate it.”
The relief on his face was priceless.
That’s what I love about America. It encourages mutual respect for everything that is you: space, time and talent.