If I ever become sole decision-maker for a humanitarian award, without a doubt, you will be one of the first candidates, Guy in the Lane Next to Me at the pool Wednesday night.
The public health awareness campaign you executed was graphic, innovative and memorable.
A few laps into my swim, at first I thought a seal had joined me, the bark sounding so familiar. But after lap 10, your clever plan was clearer as I began to distinguish a sneeze-cough-snort-nasal-clear pattern after every few laps on your side of the rope.
By lap 20, I realized the kindness you were offering, bringing awareness to all of us that cold and flu season was upon us. That hadn’t yet dawned on me, and I knew I hadn’t prepared.
At lap 30 I began to consider my own health and how to better cope with this time of year as the sounds of your warning message carried through the water so I could hear them even before I turned to take a breath. With every glimpse of your bright green YMCA swimming cap, I knew you were with me. A constant reminder.
50 laps into it, I’m certain there was a visible globule of some sort floating just to my right, suspended halfway between surface and floor. A wonderful gift, visually reminding me to take care of myself. The long fit of sneeze-snort-nasal-clear during your rest time at the wall echoing through the enclosed space.
Finishing number 60, I saw you sitting there at the far end of the lane, clearing your nostril on the deck, giving me a clear warning as to what would be in store if I don’t rest, stay warm and drink my liquids.
As I walked into the cold night with wet head and no hat, rubbing my hands to warm them up, I knew I had met a humanitarian like no other. A true public health advocate and angel of admonition.
Yet still, I tried very hard to forget you.
Now on Friday, as I feel the symptoms of something coming over me, you come to mind again. My thoughts turning toward what great thing I can give to you in return for your gift to me.
And now I know. No matter how hard I try, it will be difficult to expunge you from my thoughts.