The other day Bill and I took one of our dreaded trips to the gym. I say dreaded because there is never a single time when I think, “Oh, yay! It’s Monday. I couldn’t possibly be more excited that we get to go work out! It’s so beneficial, and feels so good too.” Yep. Those words will never pass my lips. But we go because we need to, and because we know it is beneficial to our health. Oh yeah, and it also feels good. It feels good to have LA Fitness in the rear view mirror of our car, that is!
Anyway, we found two treadmills next to each other, set claim to them, and began to walk. Bill had on his headphones and immediately became deeply engrossed in the sports station he was watching. I read when I work out, and so I am unable to block out sound. However, if it’s a good book, I can lose myself in the story and I don’t pay attention to anything that’s going on around me.
That particular day, however, I couldn’t miss what was going on around me as I would have had to be dead (or deeply engrossed in a sports station with earphones blocking out all sound) to miss it. There was a young man, age 25-1/2 (you will soon see how I know his age) standing on the treadmill next to me, conducting business on his cell phone. He didn’t have the treadmill turned on; he was simply standing on it. And the business he was conducting was applying for a second mortgage on his home. Loudly. So loudly, I’m afraid, that I was able to overhear the entire transaction, though I tried really hard not to listen.
I know his date of birth (October 2, 1990). I know his credit score. I know he has taken out a few small loans in the recent past to do upgrades on his house and therefore was concerned about his credit score which is why I know what it is. It is 720. He was so thrilled with the score that he chose to say it out loud so that we all could know and rejoice. I know he is a computer analyst but has a secondary business he operates out of his home from which he earns $2000 a month. (I was tempted to lean over to him and let him know that I missed out on what his earnings were for his regular job, but I resisted the urge.)
I tried to get away. I really did. In fact, after learning his credit score, I picked up my iPad and moved to a vacant treadmill a bit down the row. Though several treadmills away, it was not far enough to avoid hearing him apply for his loan.
And when he was finished, he turned on the treadmill, ran for a full 30 seconds, stepped off and left the building.
I was perturbed that my peaceful workout had been disrupted, it’s true. But honestly, more than that, I wanted to put my hands on either side of his youthful and naïve face and say, “Young man, do you understand that you just let the entire gym know your personal information?”
Having recently been in the hospital, I will tell you that there is only one piece of information that members of the medical field need in order to access ALL of your personal health data – your date of birth. Well, they probably need your name as well, and if I had gotten there a touch earlier, I would have that information too. As it was, I got in a few minutes late and so I don’t know his name. No matter what I’m trying to do when dealing with a doctor’s office or a hospital, all I need to tell them is my name and my date of birth and they will begin telling me whatever I want to know.
When I talk on my cell phone, I speak very loudly. I know this to be true because I hear myself. And because Bill tells me. For reasons I don’t understand, however, I can’t stop myself. But I can – and do – try to maintain privacy when on the telephone. I leave the room or go outside if I’m with other people.
The other day as I was waiting for Bill during his dental procedure, there was a woman on her cell phone talking to a friend. Talking loudly to a friend. So loudly, in fact, that people were leaving the small waiting room, tossing her dirty looks as they left. She was entirely unaware of the effect her conversation was having on the rest of the room, however, as she was telling her friend (and all of us) what she and her husband paid for their mobile home, all of their health problems, and their various vacation plans coming up.
Unlike the young man, she didn’t share any information that could have been used for nefarious purposes. Nevertheless, it made me wonder once again when we lost our sense of personal and private space. Sigh.