I was at the pool this morning somewhat later than usual. The later I am, the more crowded it is. A much older man was already on the pool deck just ahead of me. Common courtesy dictated that I allow him to pick a lane first. Initially, I thought there were two lanes available so I quickened my steps, not in competition with him but in case anyone was behind me.
Within a few steps, however, I saw my mistake and slowed down. I recognized a couple of the swimmers and knew their approximate daily schedule well enough to guess they were about done with their workout. In which case, I didn't really mind waiting what I supposed would be only a few minutes.
Instead, a man exited the pool from Lane 6, right in front of me. I gestured to the older man who was, in my mind, ahead of me, to come over. The man exiting the pool told me, "You know, you don't have to wait. It's two to a lane. There's no reason on earth why you should be standing here. Get into Lane 2." I replied that I know it's two to a lane but that I was deferring to the other gentleman who had arrived first.
At which point, he came over and I offered him the lane. He protested, "I'm not sure which of us was here first. But, well, if you have to be at work or something, just go ahead. I'll wait." I said, probably too proudly, that I don't work.1 He said sincerely, "Beautiful. Finally!"
I'm not certain what he meant by "Finally!" My first thought was that he was commenting on my not working. But then I thought he was just happy about getting a lane or pleased that a woman had let a man go first for a change. I mentioned the conversation to Jeff and he thought it was the first thing, about me not working. There's all kinds where I swim, ages and cultures and professions, and it isn't always easy to figure where people are coming from. Some are courteous and some are disrespectful, for instance. But I can only do my best to act in good faith.
As soon as the man took Lane 6, Lane 1 opened up completely for me and I had a good swim.
1 However, naturally, my husband does work but he's home watching the kids while I swim, waiting for me to return so he can go to work!