Week 2: Wear out the Silence
The rain fell like a shower. With every stuttered step I was becoming more drenched. Lucky for me my jacket was water proof and got me to the car with minimal dampness. I put the key onto ignition and headed out to do my Friday workout at Planet Fitness. I was ready I told myself that this was the day. I was gonna destroy it. I would shred my quads and calves. I would blast my lats, delts, traps, and any other muscle that ended in “s” Yep, this was going to be my day in the gym and I was gonna kill it. And I did… until I didn’t.
Instead I found myself wandering the aisles at Costco. We needed a new pencil sharpener I had convinced myself that I should get it first before heading to my AWESOME workout. Costco had the 15 horsepower ultra-lead shredder sharpener. And since I have NEVER got anything from Costco that wasn’t in some way AMAZING I dove right in a bought it no questions asked. Later when I arrived home I ground down half a dozen pencils and started to get a little buzz going. It was sort of a rush, I have to admit. Then I let my son give it a try and man was he impressed. When it was done he let out a yelp of astonishment that let me know I had scored a home run with the new lead-n-wood whittler.
After my trip to Costco I was on my way to the gym. Nothing would stop me now. Until Carl’s Jr. There it was. Reminding me about all those memories with my older boys living in SoCal 700 miles away. I sometimes go to Carl’s and have some fries and a drink. Somehow I feel connected to my boys and I think about them and how much I miss them. For some reason today the appeal was simply too much and I found myself sitting with my fries and a drink. I am not really exactly sure the reasons why I could not resist. But lately I think a bit of a depression has settled on my otherwise positive outlook. My world has been assaulted with some very hard truths about the world we are in. And I will admit that it got to me. I was very melancholy eating my fries. Feeling guilty that I had not actually gone to the gym.
Long story short. Today I never made it to the gym. Big surprise right? In the end I simply didn’t have it in me today. But next week… I am gonna wreck my biceps and triceps and quadriceps and forceps. Wait that last one is not a muscle. I think that’s used in labor and delivery. Scratch that last one. But all that other stuff I said before Ohhhh ya, I am gonna wreck it!
So far today no one had said anything about my shirt. Today was the Eric Garner “I can’t breathe” shirt day. The reason no one had said anything was today it was raining and the jacket I had on covered the shirt. I knew it was there underneath but no one else in the unassuming public did. Until I took my son to the public pool for a little Friday night free swim! For 2 hours he got to go bananas at the community pool with three of his friends from school. They had a great time. There is this awesome water slide at the pool that is the highlight every time he goes. I realized that for the first time, as I sat in the bleachers and watched the kids play, I would have my “I can’t breathe” message as a billboard for the entire pool population to see.
What I had not planned on however was the Lifeguard training class that went on all during the 2 hour swim. These committed lifeguards were hard core and working very hard at mastering some very difficult scenarios. Diving in and rescuing people who were unconscious, people who were screaming and flailing around, sometimes two people needing help at the same time and trying to drag the rescuer down with them. Each time the team would pull the victim from the water and provide lifesaving aide all while their trainer was screaming at them to do it faster or better or correctly. It was VERY intense and captivating to witness.
Near the end of the session I found the rescue team of lifeguards right in front of me running a rescue drill on a dummy that had been placed in the bleachers earlier. As I watched the rescue effort and heard the coach identify what they were doing right and what was changing. He would shout. “Non-responsive!!” which would change the way the team was interacting immediately and brought a renewed sense of urgency to the rescue effort. In the midst of this I started thinking about Eric Garner and what happened to him. I was startled by the lifeguard coach telling the ‘big man’ of the class to move something out of the way and take control of the environment. “Do whatever you have to do provide life saving techniques. If you need more room and you can move things do it!!”
Then the team got back to work. They called out “beginning compression’s”… and started counting as they worked 1 – 2 – 3… I remembered the number of Grandchildren Eric had – 4 – 5 – 6… and the number of children Eric had – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10 – 11… the number of Times Eric said “I can’t breathe” 12 – 13 – 14 – 15 – …28 – 29 – 30 the number of times Eric had been arrested over a 10 year period. The rescue team at the pool would then yell “Clear!” and everyone would lift up their hands – it was almost like a prayer was made in that brief second- they would then wait a moment for the AED to charge and deliver a heart resetting jolt to the victims heart.
When this exercise was over and the lifeguard time was debriefing, the ‘big man’ on the Lifeguard team came over to me and asked, “Are you alright? Since your shirt says ‘I can’t breathe’” I could see in his eyes and hear in his tone of voice that this was a dismissal of everything the shirt represented. My response was clear and simple as I looked him up and down, “Ya I’m fine, but sometimes the air gets a little bit thick.” He smirked but turned and walked away. I’m glad he did. I would have hated to have gotten into it with the “big man” and put the talents of the lifeguard rescue team to work saving his life after I was through with him. After all, I did miss my workout <wink> So I fantasied about how I would lay him out and punish him for his ignorance. So sue me! I am a male and we men have these scenarios running through our minds more often than most will admit. I know I could have taken him but that was not the point.
Today was Eric Garner day. A day when I was reminded that there are many victims who have first responders push the clock as fast as they can to save a life. There is nothing more important. Everything I saw in the lifeguard training told me something very important. If Eric had stopped breathing at the scene of his arrest he might still be alive today. The simple fact is that an unconscious person would probably gotten more attention “I can’t breathe” from the police “I can’t breathe” than a person actually “I can’t breathe” telling them what was “I can’t breathe” wrong with them. If his asthma “I can’t breathe” would have been severe “I can’t breathe” enough maybe he “I can’t breathe” would still be alive “I can’t breathe” today. If the EMT’s would have “I can’t breathe” known he had asthma “I can’t breathe” they could have done “I can’t breathe” what they were sworn to do.
And I would love to believe that this was just a case of simple lack of information. That Eric Garner received from both law enforcement and EMT’s the best possible medical attention. But instead I know better. These officers and EMT’s failed to protect and save a life that day and they did it willfully. And that chills me to the bone. It should you too. Some would tell me, “Ya but you weren’t there and you don’t know what it’s like.” And you know what they would be right. Here is what I do know. There are some things that Americans are supposed to value above all else. Doing your best is high on that list. I don’t think allowing a man who had been arrested and was in you care die ON YOUR WATCH is in anyway an American thing to do. Someone needs to call Trump and get these people FIRED. He loves to fire people in law enforcement and the judicial branch of government so it will really be no problem believe me. Then someone needs to call the district attorney – assuming Trump hasn’t fired them already – and put both the Popo and the meat wagon jockeys all in the prisons they love to over crowd so much for their crimes of willful abandonment their of the sworn duty and negligent homicide that they are all complicit in.
Rest in peace Eric Garner. Today, at this moment as I remember you and how you breathed your last breath, I find that ‘I can’t breathe’ either. PEACE