Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Common Sense vs. Rules

I've waited 24 hours before posting this blog in order to collect my thoughts. I still don't know exactly what I plan to do in response to the situation I'm about to chronicle, but in order to ensure in my mind that the urgency of detailing what happened doesn't diminish, I needed to at least put this in writing.

Yesterday, the most inspirational person I know (who also happens to be a cancer patient who is valiantly fighting an aggressive form of metastatic breast cancer) went to her local gym to work out. In her battle against the insidious disease that would seek to render her weak or feeble, she only eats things that are good for her body and she exercises every day. Usually, her work out might include a hike to the top of Crowder's Mountain or a brisk walk outdoors, but when it's really cold she sometimes opts for an indoor routine. Such was the case yesterday in the early morning hours.

As my precious, brave friend tells me, she cannot work out in her wig because it's impractical and uncomfortable. There's nothing pleasant about the yucky feeling of sweat beading up underneath an already itchy apparatus. Her ball cap won't stay on and doesn't work well for her when her workout is intense, so she opted to cover her beautiful head with a white bandanna.

I know her well enough to know that she doesn't seek to broadcast her plight everywhere she goes, but it wouldn't have been difficult to ascertain that her purpose for wearing the bandanna (again, a white bandanna--no gang symbols, no skull and crossbones--you get the drift) was to cover up the results of her chemotherapy.

Her troubles began yesterday when she broke the 'no bandanna's' rule at Planet Fitness. My friend, a Christian mom who teaches her own children the importance of obedience, didn't purposely ignore their rules. She wasn't intentionally rebelling when she tied the cloth covering around her head, so the commotion that ensued as a result was embarrassing, humiliating and demoralizing.

I wish I could report that even a smidgen of compassion or empathy would have prevailed and that this unintentional breaking of the 'no bandanna' policy would have been addressed differently. The sad facts are, however, that the female manager of the gym required a young, female employee (who was obviously embarrassed and horrified) to tell my friend that she either had to lose the bandanna or leave. So, she left.

This didn't just make me mad, it broke my heart. The "mother" in me wanted to march over to that gym and give that manager more than a piece of my mind. But really, that's all she needs-- a piece of someone's mind. Yours, mine, anybody's--specifically from the hemisphere that contains the common sense and empathy portion.

Why? Because there was clearly no blatant attempt to disregard or rebel. Is it too much to have a little innocent hope that there can still be reasonable exceptions made for people whose circumstances are extenuating?

I guess it is. So, Merry Christmas gym manager. I hope the main gift you get this year is some compassion mixed with common sense.


  1. As you well know, I'm very often of the mindset that "what is black is black and what is white is white" and there is very little room for gray when it comes to rules, but good grief, this is definitely one of those "gray areas" where a little discretion should have been used!

  2. I agree--and you know I tend to lean toward the hard and fast rules are rules opinion as well. In this case, I only wish more discretion had been used so that there was no public embarrasment or humliation, and then possibly a reassessment of their policy is in order for future similar situations.

  3. My heart breaks for her! I tend to be the same as you guys in the whole rules category but come on ... have a little compassion! If I visited this gym and saw this happen I would not have been able to keep my mouth shut ...

  4. When Tiffany told me this, I was horrified! People are so ridiculous! I hope this person does get a dose of compassion wrapped up as a gift under the Christmas tree this month.

  5. This breaks my heart Sandy! As others have posted, I too am a rule follower but there are grey situations and this is definitely one of them.