In the past few years of being a regular gym goer, I’ve become quite the locker room observer of human etiquette and behavior. Of course, this is all for anthropological purposes rather than, say, the gay kind; kind of like Jane Goodall and the chimps. I’d love to say that, typically, most people are courteous and accommodating in the change room but, unfortunately, history has taught me that this is seldom ever the case; particularly when it comes to the old gaffers. Today then was just another classic example of what the few and the righteous such as myself, have to deal with from time to time between workouts.
Seeing as how it was a slow day at work today, I decided to slip in a quick workout in the pool since my ass was too lazy to crawl out of bed this past Thursday. As it turns out, the middle of the day is the perfect time to swim laps since, like, hardly anybody is there apart from the odd old lady breast-stroking in the far lane. Beautiful! It was the near perfect workout, marred only by one schmuck who decided it was better to swim across my lane directly in my path rather than use the ladder to exit the pool but, other than that, it was great; in and out, 3k, no muss no fuss. Until I hit the showers afterwards that is…
As I said before, the nice thing about going to the gym in the middle of the day is that it’s not nearly as busy as the peak periods of the day that I normally go at, and that includes the locker room as well. One might say it’s like Shangri-la when you don’t have to immediately go all Frank Dux in ‘Bloodsport’ and compete for locker space, sinks, or just a seat in the sauna. It’s amazing; except for today apparently.
When I finish my workout I like to take my time in the shower, get composed, and what have you, before I resume the rest of my day. It’s my “me time” (when I’m able) so to speak. So I deposited my stuff back at my locker, grabbed my shower and body gel and headed for the showers feeling pretty good about the extra training day results.
Now, lately, my left foot has been a bit tender and stiff so I’ve taken to giving it periodic massages when the opportunity presents itself, so seeing as how the showers were empty I plopped myself down on one of those plastic mobility stools they have for those with disabilities, or whatever, and proceeded to give my foot the once over under the hot spray. After a minute or so of, oh, so wonderful self-indulgence, another guy who might have been Father Time himself entered the shower area and, noting that I was using the stool, proceeds to give me a very distinct ‘stink eye’. However, being the polite guy I am, and assuming that he might actually need the stool giving that his entire frame looked about as sturdy as a coat hanger wrapped in cellophane, I asked: “Oh, sorry, do you need this?”, indicating the stool under my bare nekkid ass. I mean, I can continue my foot massage back at my locker on the bench, no big deal really. So I offered up the stool which Father Time readably accepted with nary a look or statement of appreciation. ‘You’re welcome’, I thought to myself but, oh well.
So what did Father Time actually use the stool for? Did he need it to sit on? No. Did he need it for support of any kind? No. As it turns out, he needed this particular stool to rest his towel and shaving kit on. I know, right? Hey, pops, I’m sorry if my inconvenient inconvenience has in some way inconvenienced your convenience, knowwhaimsayin? You could always use the provided shelves to rest your effects on, or whatever but, hey, just as long as you’re happy. So I laughed it off in my head as just another nutjob doing nutty shit – as one might expect in the locker room from time to time – toweled off and headed back to my locker to resume the rest of my post-workout routine.
When I got back to my locker though, my nice, clean, organized and quiet little corner of the change room now looked like a war zone. Pants, socks, shoes, underwear, and assorted toiletries were lying around absolutely everywhere; on the counters, the stools, the benches… everywhere. And seeing as how it was only me and Father Time in the change room at the time, it wasn’t hard to figure out to whom it all belonged.
According to my prescribed Locker Room Commandments, Rule #1 goes thusly: “Thou shalt not take up more space than necessary”. Typically, the amount of space you can safely occupy in the change room is proportionate to the amount of space directly in front of your locker. In other words: not much. But given that there was nobody else around, I can understand wanting to spread out a little bit but, seriously, buddy had shit EVERYWHERE! Every stool either had his dirty yellowed drawers on them, or a soaking wet towel, or his smelly old man socks, or his Geritol, etc. Bad enough that he needed every level surface available to fan out all his old man shit, but he needed my shower stool to boot. Fucking RI-DIC-U-LUS! Somebody needs to school grandpa on basic locker room etiquette 101. God can only wonder what he’s like at home. He must have either the most understanding, patience, dutiful wife, or an entire team of Oompa-Loompa’s to follow him around and pick up his shit; certainly not me.
So, with all the careful dexterity of a military bomb disposal soldier, I delicately removed a few of his garments and tossed them in the general direction of his open locker in order to clean out a space large enough to sit down and get changed. Once I had adequately concealed my dangly bits (as is also part of the Locker Room Commandments, see Rule #2) I grabbed my shaving kit because, you know, I like to get all clean and smooth for the girlfriend every once and a while too.
But, once again, each and every possible surface and sink basin in the washroom had been left in some sort of disorder, or with a carelessly discarded towel. Seriously, dude? At this point, my congeniality began to waiver. Unfortunately (for him), at this exact moment, Father Time appeared around the corner with a rather sour look on his face. “Did you move my stuff?”
Now, I’d like to say at this point that I reminded calm and rational but, instead, I chose to channel my inner black ghetto woman:
“As a matter of fact, yes, I did. I’d like to sit down somewhere at some point, and you seem to feel that you own every surface in the joint. Oh, and while we’re on the subject, is this yours too?”, as I hauled out a soggy hand towel from the sink behind me.
The look of surprise on his face did nothing to mask his guilt.
“Yeah, well, I’m not your wife and it’s not my job to clean up after you, dude, so I’d appreciate it if you stopped leaving your shit everywhere since we all have to share the same space.”
He gave me that discernible look like ‘I can’t believe you’re talking to an old man like me in that fashion, sonny’ but, really, I couldn’t give a shit at that exact moment. He can do and act any way he pleases at home but if he was going to cop an attitude with me over having to move his stanky ass gym socks and underwear from one of the stools just so I could sit down, then he was also going to hear about it. Then, just to prove my point (while adding a little insult to injury), I added:
“Oh, and by the way, you’re shaving kit is still in the shower on the stool I was using.”
Take that, grandpa!
“Well, I’ve been coming here for…” he started, but I cut him off.
“I don’t care; a slob is a slob is a slob. And, you sir, are a slob. If you’ve been acting like this for that long then it’s high time somebody told you to pick up after yourself.” There. I said it and gave him my best ‘Buddy, I will wear your ear as a necklace‘ look.
Rather than press the issue any further he retreated back around the corner from whence barnyard he came from and I went back to the business of making myself beautiful. A few minutes later (hey, when you look this good you don’t need a lot of time) I returned back to my locker and was pleasantly surprised that he had picked up most of his crap off the floor and surrounding area and either had tucked it in his locker or back into his gym bag but, whatever the case, it wasn’t spread out all over the locker room anymore. Excellent!
Signed, sealed, and delivered. Message obviously received.
Of course, we didn’t exactly shake hands or even make further eye contact, but I’m happy that my point had been made. We all have to use and share the space provided and it only takes one slob to ruin that experience for everyone else.
So, for the love of God, PICK UP YOUR SHIT!