A Dude, an Esthetician and a Monoplegic Get Into a Hot Tub…

I bet you didn’t expect to read that sentence today! I didn’t expect to write it, either, but that’s pretty much what happened at the gym last night. Life isn’t like a box of chocolates, because you do know what you’re going to get: chocolate (aka choccy as they say Down Undah, right Missy?) But going to the gym you never know who you’re going to meet. (True story, I once met Meatball, the rock legend. But that’s another story. Although I will say that he introduced himself as Meat, and I said, without missing a beat, “As in, Mr. Loaf?”) To be honest, I didn’t meet the man with one functioning arm. He was in the pool though, and I did chat with a skin care professional. Interesting people abound!

There was a light rain falling in Austin as I bicycled downtown for a swim and dip in the hot tub. Staying dry so I could get wet was an irony not lost on me. The lanes were full, which was since before swimming I like to loosen up with some time in the tub of hot. Not long after I got in a young woman did, too. I mentioned how impressed I was with another woman who was doing extremely slow backstrokes, and my temporary tub mate chuckled. After that I was content to bliss out with the soothing warm bubbles. She struck up a conversation, and it would have been rude of me to leave right away.

Turns out that she used to live in Portland and bike, which is not surpising since it’s of a bicycling Mecca where many people are car-free. I mentioned that I had been 15 Years Not a Slave to Cars, to which she replied she did not envy me for that. I wasn’t bragging, it just came up. However, she needs a car to get to her job doing facials and hair removal. It’s too far and would take her too long to bike. Even using the train or bus one way would be inefficient since Austin public transit is subpar.

An interesting thing about her is that she avoids the sun religiously, and I could tell. For someone in her age bracket she looked a good bit younger. We chatted a bit more and then it was time for me to swim before the pool closed. I imagine her life is quite limited by having avoiding the sun as much as possible. But she’s here now, and Keep Austin Weird is our slogan, so words to live by. If I ever want a face treatment I know who to call. As they say, “Beauty is only skin deep.”

As for the man with one functioning arm, well, I have to say that I was humbled and impressed. I had noticed him swimming, and just decided that was because he was training one arm to get stronger quicker. But once he was out of the pool, I noticed one hand was grasped tightly. He also walked with a pronounced limp. He was young so I imagined he was the victim of a stroke, which is not unfitting for a swimmer. Perhaps he was doing it for therapy or he swam before and he wanted to continue, or both. I was both sad for him but awed by his grit.

With two working arms. I’m able to thrash most inelegantly back and forth across the water. I can’t imagine doing it with one. So huge kudos go to that man for having the courage to fight for every stroke and length of the pool. As I was unlocking my bike to leave, I presume his mother came to pick him up. I almost said something to pay him compliment, but decided not to intrude. He knows his situation and a stranger commenting on it, even positively, may have been unwelcome.

I reflected on how much we take for granted. With the coronavirus making its silent but deadly way around the globe, daily life may change drastically for we 7+ billion humans on the planet. It already has for many who find themselves sick, quarantined, unable to breathe well and on medicines fighting to heal. Many people have or will be locked down in a hospital with little to no human contact for two weeks. Some will die. The quantity and quality of the impact to society, economies, and more is yet to be seen. So Mother Nature certainly doesn’t give a damn about our petty little concerns. Take for example my bicycling mileage goal, which could be severely curtailed. It’s miniscule compared to an illness with life or death implications.

Worry won’t fix anything, but being a little prepared doesn’t hurt. Many people won’t become ill, but those that do will need our support. Remember that this too shall pass, but it may linger for a long while. Yet, until it strikes, I’ll do my best to keep on riding and keep on writing. Thanks for reading.

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