A while ago, I was at the gym, getting ready to do a few pull ups before ending my workout and heading out. My favorite pull up bar was occupied. Well, not really occupied, but the space around it was occupied. My favorite bar is at a cable cross machine, between two lifting set ups that people often use in such a way that the bar can’t be used.

And that’s fine. There are other bars. They’re thicker, which make it harder for me to grasp them, but I can handle them. So I walked on and came to the other bars – also around cable cross set ups, but there were a lot more bars to choose from. Since people were using some of the cable cross set ups, I chose the one closest to the mirror. I put down my gym bag and started to move a few free weights that someone had left lying around when a man walked up to me.

This was an older guy who I often see around the gym. He lifted, mostly, but also had a pair of metal ankle thingies that he used to hang upside down from the pull up bars. I had been at a point of friendly nodding with him until this very day.

“I’m eyeing the bar,” he said. Then he proceeded to edge me out of the space and blatantly steal the bar I had been intending to use. He acted so benignly, as if he had every right to take the bar I had arrived at and claimed first.

There was another bar available, between two people using cable cross stations. I did my pull ups and went on my way, but I didn’t forget that strange assumption of primacy. Since that encounter, I stopped smiling or nodding at this guy at the gym. I might not have had the ability in the moment to respond appropriately and tell him I had already “eyed” the bar, but I wasn’t going to reward that kind of behavior.

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