“OK, we’ve got 10 minutes left in the class. Do you want to start reading the next chapter or hear a story,” I often asked on a Friday when I taught school.
Most high school students in my US History classes never wanted to start a new chapter in their text books. Shocker, I know!
“A STORY, A STORY!” they’d shout. (Sounding like the Knights Who Say Ni when they repeated “A PATH, A PATH!”)
“OK, you choose the story. I can tell you a story where I’m the hero of the story or I can tell you one where I’m humiliated and embarrassed. Which story do you want?”
“Humiliation, sir! Humiliation, sir!” they’d yell in unison.
The kids never seemed too interested in hearing stories about me saving a life, or me rescuing anyone from a burning building, or me riding up on a white challenger to save the damsel in distress.
I guess humiliation and embarrassment are universal feelings. And my students wanted to hear about me being more like them and less about me being something they hadn’t been yet. Or they just really really liked stories of my humiliation. Probably a little of both, I reckon.
What do we do when someone around us does something totally humiliating or embarrassing? Or something happens to them that is humiliating?
I sat in a subway one night in Tokyo as the buzzer sounded, signaling that the doors were about to close. That also signaled those who were running to get on the train to sprint if they were going to make it. In the distance I could see him. He was a young Japanese businessman running hard to get on-board. I sat there pulling for him, hoping that he’d make it.
Typically, Japanese businessmen in Japan get on the train or subway near their home at about 6 AM. They work all day and usually don’t get home until 10 PM or so. Long days and hard work are what they have to look forward to everyday. And this young guy was running hard, at the end of his long workday, to get on the subway I was on. If he didn’t make it, he’d be stuck on the platform waiting for another 10, 15, or even 30 minutes for the next train.
Just as the doors were starting to close, the young guy made it … but somehow the toe of his foot got caught on the lip of the train door and he did a full-on Superman style face-plant into the train! He’d made it! The door had closed behind him and he was on-board! But in the process of him sliding into third, his briefcase went flying through the air. When the briefcase landed with a thud on the subway floor it popped open and all of his papers when flying. And there he was, in his business suit, lying on the floor on his face, with all of his paperwork flying through the air and floating down all around him.
I wanted to stand up and make the umpire’s call: SAFE!!! But I knew that wouldn’t be right.
What happened next baffled me and kept me scratching my head for hours.
Expecting people to get up and help him gather his papers and assist him up off the floor, they instead turned away and no one lifted a hand to help him. Even though I’d only been in the country for a few months, I had learned firsthand the wisdom of the old adage: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” And when in Japan, do as the Japanese do.
So I did nothing too.
But this tormented me. I wanted to help this guy. But no one else was helping him and so I didn’t either.
This bothered me to the point that when I met with my Japanese language teacher the next day I had to tell him about what I’d seen the night before. I wanted to know why no one helped him. I wanted to know why people ignored him. I had gotten the impression that the Japanese were so cold and stoic, that they just didn’t care about their fellow man.
My teacher explained it to me.
“Tony-san, the people on the train did the right thing,” he said.
“By ignoring him and not looking at him and not helping him, they allowed him to save face. It was as if it never happened,” he explained.
Oh. I’d never thought of that. And that really caused me to consider the whole notion of “saving face” in Asia.
“What did the businessman do after he fell down?” my teacher asked.
“He gathered up his stuff, put it all in his briefcase, and then quietly sat down … as if … nothing had … happened,” I said, as the cultural light bulb came on in my head.
What do we do when someone does something, or something happens to someone, that embarrasses them or humiliates them?
People are different and not everything works for every person. If someone laughs with me when something like that happens to me, as they’re helping me, that’s the best!
A year ago when I tore my knee up in a tennis tournament, my friend Rob Whitsitt, who was watching the match, was one of the first to get to me and help carry me off the court. He knew it was a serious injury, but he was cracking jokes the whole time and laughing at my bad luck as he carried me. This was perfect for me. (I hope someone makes a joke in the last second of my life!)
But not everyone wants you to laugh. In fact, laughing for some people will only make them feel worse. When in doubt, I guess, just be helpful.
All of us share in embarrassment and humiliation. We all know how it feels to show up to a party wearing the wrong thing. Or we’ve knocked a jar of spaghetti sauce off the shelf at the store and seen it bust and splatter all over the floor. Or we’ve knocked over our glass of tea at a business lunch. Or we’ve driven around with the baby’s car-seat on the roof of our mini-van. Or our stomach has growled really really loud during a very quiet moment at church. Or spinach has found a home in-between our teeth at a banquet.
I couldn’t possibly make an exhaustive list of all of the shared moments we have in common that embarrass us and make us blush.
Since this is America, and not Japan, feel free to help your fellow American when calamity and misfortune visit them. It happens to us all.
When I was in college I took a class called, “Marriage and Family Life,” or some such title. It was thirty girls and yours truly! … plus the male professor. I sat in the chair right next to the door. One day the professor walked into the classroom just a few minutes late and with everyone waiting on him. As he walked into the classroom, and with me sitting in my seat, I couldn’t help but notice that his fly was open. His open fly was right on my eye level. Impossible not to see!
I immediately jumped up, put my hand on his shoulder to turn him around, facing him away from the class full of girls, and led him back out into the hallway, all the while saying, “Excuse me sir, but I have a very urgent matter to discuss with you in private before class.”
You can only imagine the shocked look on his face as we walked out of the classroom.
Once out into the hall, I explained why I’d done what I’d done.
“Oh my … ,” he said, as he looked and confirmed what I’d told him. “Good man, good man indeed,” he said, thanking me, and zipping up his fly.
You should always tell a man about his fly.
I got an “A” in that class.
RACE FOR THE CURE!
Our own Teri Trotter, a breast cancer SURVIVOR, has a team —
Teri’s Trotter’s — for the Race for the Cure on October 30. You should definitely think about joining it! Questions? Email Teri at Treenatrot@aol.com or call Teri at 901-763-1088 or 647-4018
THE RETURN OF THE 0830 CLASS AND THE CONTINUATION OF THE 0645 CLASS
The 0830 Class has returned to ACTIVE DUTY status on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday!
Don’t forget that there is child care available at the church for this class!
The 0645 continues to march on MWF as well!
SGT. TONY’S HALF MARATHON TRAINING!
Training for the St. Jude Half Marathon continues this Saturday, October 2 at 7 AM. We’ll meet in front of the Visitor’s Center at Shelby Farms. The Visitor’s Center is the building on the hill just above Patriot Lake and visible from the intersection of Walnut Grove and Farm Road.
We’ll be running for 1hr and 50 min, using a modified version of Jeff Galloway’s approach to training.
Training is open to all. Cost for the three month training is $75 for members of USMC Fitness Boot Camp and $120 for non-boot campers.
ALSO, Boot Campers who aren’t running the half marathon, but want to get their one hour of continuous cardio are welcome to run with us at no charge!
NEW PRICING FOR FAMILIES AND COUPLES
If you’re a part of a family (usually husband and wife) that does USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, a new pricing plan goes into effect in August! Ask me about it! You’ll like it!
WANT TO LOSE 15 POUNDS BY THE END OF OCTOBER?
Take Shape For Life is the BEST weight loss program I know of. If you’d like to lose weight talk to me. This is the program I used to lose the almost 30 pounds I gained after knee surgery. Let me help you!
You can also go to www.combatchallenge.tsfl.com/
BOGA on Thursday morning at CUMC @ 0530. BOGA is one half hard core boot camp fitness and one half power yoga … BO-GA!
Next Tuesday, October 5 will be the M-16A1 workout in the gym at the church!
TUESDAY & THURSDAY EVENING CLASS
The Tuesday and Thursday evening classes meet at St. Agnes’ track. These are cardio (walking/jogging/running) workouts and they begin at 5:45 PM.
St. Agnes is at the corner of Walnut Grove and Mendenhall.
Should the St. Agnes track be occupied or the field being used, making the track unavailable to us, we’ll go to St. Mary’s track, at Walnut Grove and Perkins.
A calendar has been added to the official USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP website.
For you visual learners, you’ll find this an easy way to glance at the week or month and see where the workouts will be, if there’s a venue change.
What would you do if money were not an issue, fear were not a factor, and failure were not an option?
To your optimum health and fitness!
SEE YOU ON THE QUARTERDECK!
Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow
USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
Mailing address: 4888 Southern Ave., Memphis, TN 38117
Cell Phone: 901-644-0145