Abusing us park exercisers is a lazy national sport
SO there we were performing a static hold in the push-up position down at the local park when the Dog Lady first came into our lives.
We heard her before she came into view, the swoosh of her nylon track pants and the tinkling bell on the collar of her Labradoodle cutting through the early morning silence.
“Good morning!” I said cheerfully as I got to my feet. “F…....g dickheads!” she bellowed in reply.
Maybe I heard it wrong. “Sorry?” I said. “You heard,” said DL, the squelch of her bare feet in Crocs lingering in her wake like an exclamation mark.
This was 7am Wednesday and I’ve noticed these charming encounters are becoming more frequent. A few mornings a week, 10 of us try to stave off the extra kilos that haunt blokes in their 30s by running up stairs, bashing focus mitts and doing slow, torturous push-ups. A little sad I know, but it’s a better start to the day than waking up with your tongue Araldited to the roof of your mouth after a night on the schooners, which is how I spent large slabs of my 20s. You don’t expect a Pepsi badge for getting up early to train, but you don’t expect a gob full of bile hurled in your direction either.
It seems almost compulsory - in Sydney anyway - to seek out and abuse groups of people exercising wherever you find them. David “Happy Meals really do make you happy” Penberthy reckons Dog Lady deserves an Order of Australia but she’s competing in a strong field.
Before DL we had the woman who told us we were “very selfish” for waking people up with our sit-ups and shuttle runs at an ungodly hour. Given the only person in sight was a homeless man - and we figured he had more on his mind than an early wake-up call - it seemed pretty clear she had another agenda. Then there was the middle-aged gay couple who castigated us for using the park benches to do tricep dips. I mean, it’s hard to find a seat in Sydney’s inner-west that hasn’t been set on fire, but these guys had decided the benches were not being used for their fit and proper purpose and deemed it necessary to intervene.
And thank God they did. Who knows, we might have smudged off some of the graffiti had it been allowed to continue.
The common factor of these vigilantes was that they were all overweight and it’s hardly a coincidence. Maybe their disapproval stems from self-hatred for years of not being able to order coffee without three pastries on the side. Of not having the strength to have a pie without a sneaky sausage roll. Or maybe they’re just poor, sad imbeciles with no life or pay TV.
I know, I know, you shouldn’t pick on psychos. But they started it.
Whatever their particular mental problem, it’s pretty galling to watch your taxes being siphoned into a health system to help people who won’t help themselves. It’s particularly galling to think that one day I’ll be contributing to Dog Lady’s dialysis treatment or heart transplant.
The facts are these: Australia is now one of the top three fattest countries on earth. We live on a diet of frozen food, takeaway crap and soft drink. We think going on a diet means cutting out the hot chips before lunch. Our kids eat Tiny Teddies as reflexively as they take a breath. The Biggest Loser used to be a freak show - now it’s a documentary.
So the next time you feel the need to have a go at a group of people training in a public space, resist the temptation to lecture them about taking over the joint. Ask yourself: what am I doing to reverse the obesity crisis? Who’s ultimately going to pay for a lifetime spent shoving my face with boxes of Shapes and bottles of Coke?
Everybody’s welcome, so either join in or shuffle off back to Krispy Kreme.
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