A couple of Sunday afternoons ago, I trudged off to the gym. After getting into my workout gear, I got out on the floor with the few other folks there. Sundays can be nice. There is no time pressure. The gym is not very crowded. Sweet.
The pleasure of the day was shattered by a M/F couple in the cardio area. They had brought their own boom-box and it was really booming. It made talking with anyone darn-near impossible. One of my fellow gym rats in attendance approached me, showing his disapproval of their garish behavior with a series of non-verbal queues.
I didn’t like their music choice – which only added to my irritation. The boom-box was louder than the sound system in the gym. It was so loud, that it was over-powering the headphones in my ears.
I asked my pal if he said anything to them. “Yup,” and their response was downright rude. I did not approach (suppressing an instinctive reaction). Instead, I went to the sole staff member present: a nice young lady at the front counter. She told me that she had asked these folks to silence their music and that they had been rude with her. She told me they cussed at her, as well.
OPINION: I really dislike bullies who are inconsiderate of others. This couple achieved some new peaks (or lows) of being obnoxious. They certainly got the award for today.
So, I approached. “Would you like to turn your music down or put on your headphones,” I asked. “It is very disruptive,” I added.
“Tell the bitch at the front counter to turn down the gym stereo, and we will turn ours down,” came the abrupt response.
Looking out the corner of my eye, I suggested that they take good care of their boom box, else someone might mistakenly drop a hundred pound dumbbell on it. (Accidents can happen in the gym, you know.)
Well, the two of them unleashed a torrent of profanity that would have made a sailor blush. The female’s language was so bad that I wondered if she ate with that same mouth. I walked away as they continued to shout their stream of name-calling obscenities.
Let’s recount: rude, obnoxious, inconsiderate, socially unacceptable language and boorish – by any standards.
Today, I saw the male half of the couple talking nicely with someone whom I have known for a while. Shortly after their conversation ended, I discreetly asked my friend, “Who is that guy? Is he the landlord, or something?”
The reply floored me. “His name is Steve. He’s a deputy at a sheriff’s office in South Florida.”
To say that I was stunned would be an understatement. A cop? THIS GUY IS A COP????
We cannot afford to forget some simple rules of cop-life.
People know who we are / what we do. Even when we think we can act anonymously, we can’t.
People expect more of us than what they expect from the “average” guy on the street.
Our every action is scrutinized – on or off duty.
The smallest action can resonate with more people, for a longer period of time than we would ever expect (or want).
So, at the end of the story, Steve and Madam Bitch has put a smudge on every cop’s badge in the region.
The folks whom he has treated so poorly probably think we are all like that. They see his arrogance as stemming from his self-centered importance.
Being a cop doesn’t give us the right to behave poorly. In reality, it should keep us from it.
I am embarrassed.
Our public persona can directly affect how we are treated in subsequent encounters with the public. Can we REALLY afford to piss off folks with this kind of “screw-em” attitude? I think not.
At the bottom line, it all comes down to saving just ONE life.
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