Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Learning to Share

Last night, J and I packed up LO and traipsed to the Y for our twice-weekly marital workout session.  We have been going to the gym together since mid-December, and I have been a relatively regular gym-goer since June of last year.  We had seen an uptick in the number of evening exercisers since January 1, but we thought we'd seen the worst of it already.


Apparently, many people were still on vacation last week, and have only just now gotten started on their New Year's resolutions.  Since it was after work on the first day of the week, the parking lot was ridiculously full, and EVERY machine in the cardio room was occupied.  I was annoyed.  I was irate.  I apparently have a little problem with sharing.  (And you thought the "Learning to Share" from the post title was about teaching LO how to do so!)

Here's the thing--I'm really and truly all for everyone getting fit and being healthy.  If a New Year's resolution is what it's going to take to get you to the gym to start a new lease on life, fantastic!  The problem is that resolutions don't work.  The gym last night was full of people who are going to come to the Y about three times (and gum up the works because they don't know the gym protocol), and then feel guilty for the rest of the year for spending money on a gym they do not attend.  (Yes, I know, Judgie Wudgie was a bear...)  I would be thrilled (in the abstract) if all of these people became gym rats and they started feeling better inside and out.  But knowing that the vast majority of the people on MY FAVORITE ELLIPTICALS are not going to be at the gym next week made me a tad put out.

At our Y, there is a giant white board where you sign up for the cardio machines for 30 minutes at a time.  Many of the newbies didn't seem to know/understand the new system.  After the disheartening first glance of the completely full cardio room, I went to the board and signed up for the only free machine--a stair-climber from the 80s which I don't believe has been used since then.  (The dot-matrix display says "No Pain, No Gain."  I think Max Headroom appears at the end to tell you the workout stats.  The thing doesn't work unless you're wearing a neon colored leotard.  It plays Olivia Newton John for the last ten minutes of the workout.  The thing is OLD, is what I'm saying.)  As I went to make the walk of shame to the Jane Fondanator, I noticed two people getting off of adjacent treadmills.  I checked the board, and sure enough they were slated to be finished at that very moment.  I muscled my way back to the board and signed up for the treadmill on the end.

When I got back to the machine, a man was standing by it with a towel draped over one of the arms.  I ignored the towel and hopped on.  *I* was signed up for the machine.  Then I noticed that the man's daughter had gone to sign up for my machine and the one beside it while he kept the spaces available.  I felt a momentary twinge about having stolen the treadmill away from him, but mostly I felt like throwing myself over the display and shouting "MINE!"

Apparently being much more polite than I, the man simply moved over to the adjacent treadmill and asked his daughter to find another machine to start on.  She gave me a look, but the man simply started his workout.  I know because I watched him out of the corner of my eye for the next thirty minutes to see if there would be any fallout from my selfishness.  Thank goodness for nice people.  They make it so much easier for us guilt-ridden ego-centrics.

As I walked/jogged, I was left with plenty of time to meditate on my selfishness.  (This is because I was in such a hurry to lay claim to the treadmill before anyone could stop me that I didn't have a chance to grab a magazine or some headphones so I could watch the tvs).  I determined that the problem with me is  that I'm very goal-oriented.  I get tunnel vision sometimes, and it makes me forget the fact that I read Miss Manners on a daily basis.

The most humiliating example of this was when I was in graduate school to become a teacher.  There was a huge job fair for future educators at OSU, where you had to sign up ahead of time for interviews with various districts around central Ohio.  Unfortunately, my advisors at OSU were the definition of fuzzy sweater ivory tower types, and they gave us incorrect directions about how to go about getting interviews.  So I showed up at the job fair with nary an interview scheduled and a huge chip on my shoulder about that fact.  Prior to the scheduled interviews, there was time for meet and greets with the districts and you could put resumes into the hands of the important folks.  I had three or four districts I absolutely wanted to contact, including Westerville, where I was student teaching.  As the time for the meet-and-greet came to an end, I was frantically rushing to get to the Westerville booth while I still had time to talk to the administrators there.  I rushed past a long line of other future teachers waiting for the scheduled interviews to begin and waited patiently for the administrator to finish his conversation.  As I was handing the man my resume and telling him about my student teaching at Westerville Central, I grew aware of a hot itchy spot on my back.  I looked back, and realized that approximately six pairs of eyes were boring into me with unmitigated hatred.  I realized belatedly that every single person in the line that I just jumped had been waiting to do exactly what I was doing.  None of them were waiting for a scheduled interview.

I stuttered to a stop, blushed up to the roots of my hair, and mumbled an explanation/apology to the watching individuals who apparently were able to find a balance between their impatience and common decency.  They were not impressed by my embarrassment.  I pushed the resume into the administrator's hand and fled, worried that someone might have stashed a rotten tomato in his briefcase.

After that crowning humiliation, I went on to have three separate interviews with Westerville schools.  I never received a job offer.  I have no way of knowing this for sure, but I'm certain that even though I knocked each interview out of the park, someone made a quick phone call after my appointment to let them know I was not a nice person and that hiring me would not be in the district's best interests.  I might trample small children in my hurry to get to lunch.

I was reminiscing about all of this while sweating through the treadmill's 30 minute workout.  One would think that remembering such an embarrassing incident while in the midst of another slightly embarrassing incident would in some way encourage me to change my behavior or attitude.  But my thought processes follow a formula.  So when I saw the exerciser jumping off my favorite piece of equipment while I had only four minutes to go on the treadmill, I found myself plotting how I could claim the elliptical for my own without skimping my treadmill workout.  And then I found myself giving the stink eye to a pair of newbies examining the machine.  Because dammit, that machine is MINE!

I apparently still have a lot to learn about sharing.


  1. Sharing is the name of the game in this house! It's an ongoing battle between my boys. Somehow doing this day in and day out, has helped me to learn to share a LITTLE bit better. let's hope it help's them as well. But I totally understand thinking the machines are yours at the gym. I have a specific one I like, and I glare at anyone who has the audacity to take it when I am there. haha

  2. I should have warned you! The second week of January is when people "really" start their new exercise goals. The first week is when you make the goals and research where you're going to go.
    They'll all be gone by February, no worries :) Or, in my case, they'll keep paying for February and March, and then in April will blame me for them not showing up and cancel their memberships.