For my sister, Jess. May you crush all of your PRs, but not your nose 🙂

I racked the heaviest weights I’ve ever used for triceps and, distracted by feeling like a total boss as I walked back to my bench, I tripped over someone else’s weights and crushed my face right into the padded floor, which wasn’t as padded as I expected it to feel as it met my nose. It went numb. And it was totally broken.

I sat there in a puddle of my pride and tears in the middle of the only place I would consider a home outside of my actual home. The music continued playing from the ceiling, the ellipticals still whooshed, and some gym bros were still deadlifting a few stations over.

So there I was. Defeated. Embarrassed. I was trying so hard to shake it off but I knew something was wrong. And then something was REALLY wrong.

Photo by Lukas on

He approached me among the group of other gym-goers. He saw it all happen for sure. Oh my god. My nose pulsed. 

“Are you ok?” he asked. I guess I wasn’t hiding my pain that well after all. 

“Oh, I’m fine, I probably just need a tissue,” I said with gritted teeth, but I couldn’t hide my now-nasal voice caused by whatever damage had been done. I touched my nose and it was still there, although throbbing, but intact enough to play it cool as he witnessed it all. 

Don’t think I was in too much pain, though, to not notice his eyes—I don’t care how cliché it is, but I never would have known that they were as blue as the actual literal ocean due to being too much of a wuss to have ever talked to him before (Words! What were they anyway?). This also presented the opportunity to notice his glasses. The frames were a deep purple with a silver stripe slashed along the side. They were sleek and cool and only he could pull them off for sure.

He helped me stand up and I had just enough vision to notice his name badge…he must have just started working there because I definitely would have known that. It also obviously revealed one thing I never knew about him.

Joel. His name was Joel.

Oof, my head hurt. It didn’t take long before I felt a pounding against my skull. The room started to spin a little bit and I was doing everything in my power to not pass out. I couldn’t pass out now in front of…Joel

I was fine. I was fine…I was fine.

The bench press called my name. This was my chance to recover my pride and show Joel what I got. I had been waiting way too long for this to mess it up now.

Photo by Lukas on

I asked him to spot me. He looked at me up and down like I was crazy (probably because I looked like it, and I definitely was, considering the state of my face). 

“That may not be a good idea,” he said. “Why don’t you—”

“No, no, I’m totally fine! Don’t worry about me!” I insisted as I tiptoed over to the bench press a few steps away. “I’m gonna hit…my PR…115 for…four…reps.” The moment I sat on the bench, I could feel my body give out and I caught myself on the bar. My vision went a little too blurry for comfort.

I snapped out of it for a few seconds but not because I felt better out of nowhere, but because this man actually touched my jaw to move my head side to side to get a closer look at the dumpster fire that was my nose.

“Eh,” he frowned and stated something medical-sounding that I didn’t quite comprehend and then, “Hopefully not so bad, but you’ll need to see someone for this.” He nodded, satisfied with his observation. I wondered if he just kept talking I would magically be revived.

Well, somewhere along the line he definitely stopped talking and I definitely wasn’t revived by some sorcery in the middle of the gym. I just needed to be away from him now.

The room became fuzzy again and people’s voices echoed. More people crowded around me and lifted my body up, and right before everything went black, I felt the motion of being walked out on a gurney. Well at least I’m not near Joel anymore, damn. 

I woke up several hours later in a dark hospital room.

Photo by Pixabay on

A nurse walked in and commented on how I was finally awake and I tried to give a little sad smile but the bandages on my nose prevented me from getting very far. 

At least Joel couldn’t see my pathetic face now. Things were going to be fine from here, right? I would just go home after this and definitely switch gym memberships. I promised myself that I would never show my face to him again. 

The nurse left and returned fairly quickly with another nurse who was going to take over for her. I was conscious enough to see that it was a man, and an attractive one. Why couldn’t all the hot guys just stay away from me right now? 

He stepped closer to me and despite how exhausted I was, I could immediately make out those purple glasses…

“Hey, long time no see,” he smiled. He worked at the gym and at the hospital??

“Weren’t you just working at the gym?”

“A couple hours ago, yes,” he chuckled. “Right before my night shift here. I do it for the free membership.”

 A couple hours?? Oh my god…

Between the long ass drive to the hospital and the procedure to unfuck my nose and however long it took me to finally wake up, a couple hours definitely passed…damn. 

As mortified as I was, he seemed to play it cool and took care of me. His smile was contagious and he was actually pretty funny. I was close to complimenting him on his glasses but that felt too weird. I had already ruined my chances with him, we don’t have to screw up again. 

I was discharged later that day (and swore to myself I’d actually for real never see him again) and went back to work a week later. For my first day back, people started flooding in the restaurant for lunch and my tables filled up quickly. The server station ran out of coasters so I went to the supply closet and on my way back, I tripped and dropped the coasters. This time I kept myself off the floor, but man…

“You ok?” someone who just sat down at one of my tables asked me. 

“Yeah, I’m f—” I stopped and started laughing hysterically. A pair of deep purple glasses stared back at me. 

Photo by Igor Starkov on

Joel actually got up from his seat to help pick up the coasters. “What a coincidence, huh?” I chuckled. I could laugh at myself, damn it. 

“Do I have to follow you everywhere on purpose now?” He winked at me. Ugh, those eyes. 

I don’t even know what I said but it definitely wasn’t anything witty or cute. My brain couldn’t handle what was actually happening. 

I waited on him and his friend and finally, they asked for the check and I was FINALLY gonna be done with this guy for GOOD.

They paid and left. I picked up the bill book, walked to the server station, and looked at Joel’s bill.

Not only did the man leave me a 40% tip (bless his heart), but there was a note in the signed receipt:

You really trippin if you don’t call me


Apparently he was also a comedian ha ha…but just one more time wouldn’t hurt…


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