It was near 11:00 AM when I was finishing with the cable machine and switching over to the ergonometer. Joe was switching from the ergonometer to the standing bike. I approached the staff to ask them to shut the music off or a moment of silence and found that they had already planned that and someone was just there to click off the radio that blasts through the place. When 11:00 hit, the radio was turned off, and even though there had not been an announcement that it was the 11th hour of the 11th day and that was the moment that Remembrance Day is officially marked.
I was astonished to see that everyone stopped. Weights had been set down. People got off the machinery and stood silently beside it. Just then, a man with an intellectual disability got off the bike which faces away from the room, which he was on and turned and headed towards the stand to get cleaning wipes for his machine. His footprints echoed loudly in the silent room. And then. They stopped. He had looked around, seen all of us still and silent and he, too, did not move a muscle.
A deep silence now filled the space.
No prayers or parades.
The music came on and it was clear that everyone had been quite moved by the moment, that a real tribute had been made. The man with the disability marched back to his machine - he was furious. He muttered something about not knowing.
But he need not have worried, his ability to read the room, to take in the expectations from his surroundings was remarkable. He wants to be part of the community, and in that moment, because of his skill and his skill alone, he joined as a full participant.