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No Excuses...

I was at swim lessons with my boys earlier today and had an experience that I can’t shake. Every weekend, at the same time as our lessons, there is an older teenager/early 20’s male who swims at the same time as us. He has a private lesson, in the very first lane, directly in front of the viewing windows.

This man has special needs. I don’t know if he has physical or mental limitations, or both. He walks into lessons every week with the biggest smile on his face. I watch as he splashes and plays and sings with joy during his time in the pool. He seems to be experiencing pure happiness the whole time he is there, and it makes me smile to see him.

Today, the man picked his nose in the pool. I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, except for two women who were sitting down from me; one commented loudly, “fucking disgusting r*****.”

I refuse to even type the word she said to describe this absolutely perfect human being. It was shocking and grossly inappropriate. I glared at her, she glared back, and the resumed watching her own kid in the pool. It took EVERY OUNCE of energy for me to remain seated and calm.

This man could not hear her. His mother stays near the pool during his lesson, and she did not bear witness to this vile behavior either. And yet, I was so utterly offended and heartbroken over someone else’s ignorance that I wanted nothing more than to rip this lady a new one.

And yet, I did nothing. Aside from shooting daggers with my eyes, nothing came of it. My kids finished lessons, the man finished lessons, and we all went home. But I’m still mad. I feel ashamed that I didn’t say anything. It doesn’t matter if the persons being verbally attacked didn’t hear her - she should have never said it and someone should have stood up for them.

There is NO doubt in my mind that I would have jumped in and protected this man if she had been directly speaking to him, or if he had even heard her. So why wasn’t I brave enough to defend him when it was behind his back? Was it because this was a public setting and I didn’t know him? If I were speaking with a friend and they attacked someone like that, I would lose my shit. I’ve interjected in similar situations regarding race, gender, or whatever.

I’m beating myself up for not saying anything, but also grateful this man and his mother didn’t have to experience such hatred. This time. How many times have they been victims of this behavior? We have GOT to do better, myself included. I promise to say something next time a situation like this occurs. It’s the only way things will change.

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