The Ethics of Intervention

The group of mottly New Brunswickers had no coxswain.

That will teach you to laugh at our hats, European bitches! 

Brits sure love to row, I think to myself, flashing back to the televised Heritage Minute in which a group of Canadians win the World Championship in 1867. Oh how the badly dressed fishermen sniggered as their heavy boat slid by the fancy pants team from Oxford. Now it’s my turn to show those weedy coxswain-knockers what’s what. After hunching over musty medical books at the Wellcome Library all week, I cannot wait to work my back. I settle onto a machine at the busy Tottenham Court Road gym—ah, the seat is still warm—turn the tension up to 10, pop in my earbuds, and push through my legs and torso before pulling the bar to mid chest while leaning back slightly. Check that form, baby! My feeling of euphoria does not last long, coming to an abrupt halt when a young woman awkwardly straddles the machine beside me. She is skeletal, her painfully knobby knees and shin bones protruding though a layer of thin skin.  Continue reading