He ran the fan duster along every nook and cranny of the treadmill, then reattached the emergency pull cord clip to its rightful place in front of the machine. Once he was satisfied, he moved on to the next machine and started all over again.
After cleaning five machines, he caught up with someone else who was cleaning, so he skipped that machine and continued with his routine. You could look down the row of treadmills and see a line of red clips attached to the front of the machines he’d cleaned. Then you’d see a machine without the clip, followed by several more with the clip.
He’s part of a handful of adults with various physical challenges who are dropped off at the gym I belong to every morning. They come in at 9:00 a.m., smiling ear to ear, and chat with the staff behind the desk for a couple of minutes. Then they get to work.
One of the men never stops smiling. I’m not exaggerating. He smiles when he’s working. He smiles when he’s talking to people. And he smiles when he’s alone.
I love the energy they bring to a place where everyone else is trudging through workout routines, lost in their music and trying to avoid eye contact.
The morning I’m writing this, my family received a call, letting us know that my aunt, who lives 700 miles away, had passed away overnight. As I got to the gym, my mind was reminiscing about the last trip we took to see her in 2016. I was also thinking about everyone I’d need to contact to let them know about her passing. And I was concerned about my mom losing her last remaining sibling.
Then the bus pulled up and these magical people spilled out. Their happiness was good medicine. By the time I’d finished my 40 minutes on the treadmill, I was thankful on several levels—thankful for the gym who hired them, thankful for the power of a smile and thankful for the life that continues, even when you’ve lost someone you love.
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