TO PUT it mildly, Nonu* was a walking heart attack waiting to happen. He was THAT close (put two fingers together) to collapsing into a crumpled heap, all 120 kilos of him, and unless he did a 180-degree turnaround in his lifestyle, diet and physical activity, he was literally one collapse away from a 111/911 call.
Sorry to sound so morbid, but Nonu is one of only 14 or 15 colleagues we have at work, and so we know each of them rather well, or at least, as much as one knows people you see 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and 230 days a year. They’re not family, but not many people come closer. I can’t say we were close, but because of a recent dramatic episode at work, our work schedules touched, at least for the remainder of his career in our workplace.
A little backstory for you dear reader. Many Samoans (an example of which is Nonu) are blessed with two precious gifts of sports : strength and speed. Samoans seem to possess an uncanny combination of these two unearthly qualities and are perfect for that most beloved of sports this part of the globe, which is of course, rugby.
Nonu didn’t reach the pinnacle of rugby reached by his namesake Ma’a Nonu, which is being an All Black , but he played his share of rugby in his younger years. Unfortunately, by the time he stopped playing, his athlete’s eating habit of eating first, second and third helpings to keep up with his energy requirements had become so entrenched that it had become part of his way of life.
Compounding this high-protein, high-carbo and high-everything else way of life was the fact that while Nonu was no longer a spring chicken, he was getting alarmingly heavy for his own good. Even the moderate demands of his job didn’t stop him from gaining weight. Cleaning the multi-storey delivery area for the site’s raw materials, monitoring the screening machines and conveyors and clearing the delivery pit of waste and extraneous matter, demanding enough for a man in tiptop condition, was excessive for Nonu’s overweight frame. On the north end of his 50’s, at that.
This was where I came in. As unobtrusively as possible, I was to perform his physical duties, keep an eye on him so he wouldn’t do any kind of physical activity, and melt away into the background, every time a delivery truck dropped a shipment into the pit. It would help of course if I did this as quickly and efficiently as common sense would allow.
I’m not Mr Fitness myself mind you, but I have been lucky. The combination of exercise and physical activity of work have kept me as fit, spry and flexible as any 48-year old and wife Mahal has kept my diet sensible enough so that I’ve more or less stayed near my fighting weight, bilbil notwithstanding. Compare my modest fitness to overweight, sedentary and wheezing Nonu, and it became urgent that he needed every little bit of my help, according to SuperBisor who briefed me on the gravity of the situation.
I was 100% in agreement with SuperBisor, and had no problem with any extra chores especially since I liked Nonu and wanted him to take it easy, given his situation. Except that the first time I started helping out, Nonu couldn’t help himself and started backing me up, and inevitably exerting and straining himself to the point of breathing heavily with every stroke of work. I realized that I couldn’t stop him from doing what he’d been doing for at least the past 10 years, and with a heavy heart made sumbong (report) to Bisor, who had no choice but to confine Nonu to a desk outside his regular post at the delivery area.
In the same breath I remarked to Bisor how guilty I was telling on Nonu and asked if he really needed to be restrained, under close supervision, to a desk job away from his regular work.
Listen Noel, Bisor explained. Would you rather tell on Nonu, or watch him keel over from a heart attack and never be the same again? He is a very ill person, and cannot perform any physical activity. If you want to help him, please do what we discussed. As always, Bisor was doing everything by the book, and everything by the book was, as always, the right thing to do.
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Working, doing the things we love, and providing for our family are all good things, but they all take a back seat to watching out for Number One, and that of course is our health and well-being. We can’t enjoy the fruits of our labor if we’re not healthy enough to enjoy the rest of our life. It sounds corny, but it’s never too late to start being healthy. Never too late, that is, until it’s too late.
Thanks for reading!
*not his real name.