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The Sign Says “Rerack Your Weights”

Not every post has to be deep; some just require common sense.

While working out at the local gym a few weeks ago, I noticed a young woman walking around wiping down equipment, stripping weights, and putting away dumbbells that were left scattered around from the night before. She obviously works the early shift and went about her task without any visible dissatisfaction or animosity against those that failed to clean up after themselves.

There are a number of signs posted throughout the gym that ask the members to rerack their weights. Maybe its old-school and it’s technically her job, but it seems to me that once he (or she) was done with their last rep, they would kindly put their toys away where they found them. After all, not every person can do leg presses with eight plates on each side or hoist 80lb dumbbells over their head.

Before you start, this is not a generational thing – every decade has its ding dongs that feel the world owes them a favor. In the fire service, we call it entitlement. Admittedly, I have struggled when faced with a “professional” that, when caught in some act of impropriety, has claimed that they did not know any better because the department had not gotten around to drafting a policy specifically written to address the situation. Thus, some feel they should get a pass, another chance, or some other form of institutional forgiveness. Admittedly, there is a place for patience, and interpretations can certainly vary from person to person. But, I’m talking about things that your Mama should have taught you while you were growing up; things that every fire candidate likely inferred that they understood when they interviewed for the job.

Now, for those of you already looking for wiggle room, what I mean by your “Mama,” is your mother, dad, grandparents, first grade teacher, soccer coach, Mr. Rogers, church, synagogue, mosque, or favorite comic book superhero; basically, anybody or anything that may have had some positive influence on the relative position of your moral compass.

The reracking incident did get me thinking about my assumptions; so I conducted a little experiment. For a week, I walked around with a pen and small notepad in my pocket, jotting down situations when it seemed to me that the person(s) should have known better.

Frankly, it was depressing. By the end of the week, creating such a list made me feel like I should be written up for spreading my own negativity. So, I have flipped the script and provided a short list of things we can all do to make someone’s life a little more pleasant.

  1. Try reracking a few weights others have left out; it makes a difference, sets an example that others may follow, and may make someone smile.
  2. Call your mom/dad every day. It is never enough.
  3. Use some word jujitsu to halt the fire house gossip. If that does not work, hit them with a pillow.
  4. Never pass up a breath mint.
  5. Have lunch with your pastor, or a department mentor, or someone else that you truly value their opinion. In preparation, it will cause you to reflect on how you have been managing your priorities.
  6. As a fire company, buy a stranger a cup of coffee or a meal without them knowing who paid. Turning the table feels good.
  7. If you are going to talk politics during a sporting event – hug it out after you are done. Some people get crazy about that stuff (insert smile), but that’s one of the things you love about them.
  8. If you see a person highjack someone’s well-intended Facebook post with a bitter comment, strike back by offering the author a kind word or two.
  9. Wear the weird socks – don’t ask why.
  10. Let someone in… Trust another firefighter with a piece of yourself that may be hard to share. They will likely be appreciative, and may one day need you for the same.
  11. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about. Be kind always.
  12. Not everybody should get a trophy and orange slices; it teaches resiliancy.
  13. Return a borrowed car with a full tank of gas.
  14. You marry the girl, you marry her family.
  15. Thank a veteran. Then make it up to him.
  16. Being different is cool.






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