I had the afternoon off today and decided to go the gym in the p.m. rather than early morning as is usual. We've had a lot of snow so I was anxious to get in a hard workout and cheer my spirits. To my surprise all the exercise machines were occupied.
As I walked about checking the sign-up sheets (which we have to complete prior to mounting the machine) to see which one would become free first, I came upon one which was unsigned which is not a problem. I looked up at the lady pumping away on the pedals and said, "Hi there. Excuse me but I was just wondering how long you've got to go on your program?"
She removed her earphones and said, "As long as it takes." She smiled, killed it quickly.
"No problem. I'm not asking you to leave or anything, it's just I wondered how much of the half-hour schedule you've got to go. If it's not long I'll just put my name down on the sheet."
"Listen asshole, I'm on till I'm done. Satisfied?"
I was stunned and enraged. I just stood looking at her as she pumped and made a swatting gesture as if I were an annoying insect.
A plump, red-faced woman with frizzy hair exercising casually on a nearby exercise bicycle was bug-eyed with shock. After locking her pale eyes in my gaze, she raised her shoulders to commiserate.
Unwilling to accept the status of insect, I said, "Hey, technically I can ask you to get off because you're supposed to sign the sheet. But I'm not doing that."
Again the bright yellow earphones were being slowly lowered to caress her neck as I spoke.
"Screw the rules," she said. "I don't bother with sign-up sheets."
"I see. I'll pass that nugget on." I went off to the management staff and asked if they'd amended the rules during my absence, added that I wasn't asking the woman to leave--pointed toward the machine as I talked--but I just wanted to know how much time she had on the machine because I'd traveled a bit to get here. As I was doing so, I heard high-pitched shrieks, looked in the direction of the elliptical, and when our eyes connected heard, "You're a fucking asshole."
"Wow," the manager said to me.
"Don't do anything," I said. "Maybe just tell her to sighn the sheet like everyone else so we know what's free," I said.
The only machine free--though only for ten minutes-was beside her. I hopped on and began my exercise regime, still so riled by this woman I couldn't concentrate properly and keyed in an 'uphill' cycle rather than my usual 'weight-loss.' I began to read my book (no irony intended but entitled "Me talk pretty one day).
As I pedaled, the woman began to sing aloud. I think she figured it would annoy my reading enjoyment. Her pitch grew louder and louder until people in the gym began staring at her. She didn't care. Louder and louder she got until the gym manager came up. "Are you okay up there?" she shouted.
She removed her earphones. "What?"
"Are you okay?"
"Yea. Why wouldn't I be? Just singing while I do a nice workout. Tra la la la la."
The manager looked up at her speechless as the woman recited again, "Tra la la la la lala lala.
"Well, try to keep it down a little." She paused. "And try to remember we're a family gym here. We like people to get along and we don't like that sort of language.
"Tra lala lala."
I was beginning to wonder if this woman was mad and might have a gun in her pocketbook and wait for me to leave the gym. Just as I was wondering if I should vacate the machine, a middle-aged man drew up very alpha-male style to the front of my elliptical, riveted on the sheet attached to my machine, and glowered at my upper chest as he walked away. I knew the glower. It's the unspoken signal that one's time is up and it's now their turn. As soon as I got off and wiped down the machine, he returned and climbed aboard. The woman stopped singing.
I decided to lift some weights, my every movement watched fiercely by Crazy Woman as I did so, though every time I turned in her direction she lowered her head. ten minutes later she got off and moved straight to the thigh machine without wiping down the sweaty elliptical. No consideration for her fellow gym bunnies. Takes all kinds to make a world, I suppose.