04 June 2007

Ranting Now…

… About nothing really important, but maybe it is, now that I think about it.

What it is about so many people that they cannot clean up after themselves in the gym?

Most every weekday I am at the gym for an extensive workout. This has been part of my routine for thirteen years. Before that I went three times a week, but even then I jogged every week day. Always take weekends off, by the way.

Over the years I have been a faithful member of three gyms, and this one I visit now, a new and magnificent YMCA, has a crowd that just cannot put things back.

Let me qualify that. They put things back, mostly, but very badly. Weights go in the wrong place, curling bars out of order, plates scattered about or ill grouped, collars and bars and other stuff left wherever the last person finished.

Most days I use the time between sets to restore dumbbells and things to where they belong. I even straighten floor tiles when they get askew and move racks and stations when they inevitably wander.

Now, I am no neat freak. You should see my desk most days. So why am I so intent on this?

First of all safety. We have everything from hand weights to 100+ dumbbells rolling around on the floor instead of on the rack where they belong. One bad step and someone falls, and they will fall onto large metal objects. Likewise, heavy weights are left on high racks where only the strongest fellows can put them or retrieve them. That forces people to do more than they should or work around them.

But my real OCD reason for this is that when things are where they belong everyone can use them effectively. Not only is it neat it is efficient for everyone’s use. That indfference to others is what galls me. It is selfish, oafish and benighted.

Most every day I find someone in there who has taken two or three sets of dumbbells and lined them up by a bench or on the floor for their personal use. They do not use them all at once of course, or in swift succession. (That’s called laddering by the way and is a legitimate technique). They leave them there and use them over a period of ten or fifteen minutes, blind and deaf bto the poissibility that someone else might have use without in any way compromising their effort.

It comes down to wanting to establish control. By taking the weights off the rack and putting them somewhere else they are saying, “I am using this and you can’t.” They glory in their power by walking off for a drink, using the toilet, talking on the phone or simply standing there panting after their puny efforts. But when I ask to use a pair they get all huffy about it.

The same thing happens with benches, btw, as this morning, as I was returning a pair to the rack (AS ONE SHOULD) someone came along and plopped onto the bench I just left. Now, as a veteran gym rat, I know how to tell if a bench is being used, and always pause before assuming an empty bench is vacant.

Of course, my other problem is that no matter how often I return weights to where they belong, and even clean up as I go, people watching me do it will still leave things where they are, put them back in whatever location they fancy and otherwise ignore the rules.

Yes, I know, I am enabling. But I grew up when one was taught to ‘set a good example.’ Can’t break the habit now. In all honesty, I am resigned to this sysiphean task and try to treat it is a Buddhist monk does a sand painting, to be done and then to let it be undone.

But as I did it again this morning, unable to find my Buddhist center and therefore steaming silently, I realized that this was a metaphor for our political problem as a society. To explore this, roll on over to the Ranting Rev…


Sarah (FSC'er) said...

Perhaps you should leave a comment to the staff at the YMCA. Usually community centers have a small box to drop off complaints and compliments. Further, it is a reflection of the staff that the gym is in such disarray. If they did not tolerate such behavior from members, it would not exist. I'm surprised and disappointed that people were unfriendly when you asked to use a set. I have found people are generally friendly (and I don't attribute it to youth or beauty :))

WFW said...

Believe me, I have done that. Now, the disarray is not total, and no one else is complaining. I am likely the only one who feels this way. And don't discount the youth and beauty thing, as I am old and, well, not pretty. No mileage in being nice to me.

Sarah (FSC'er) said...

No, I was saying that perhaps fellow gym members are in fact just nice to me because I'm a decent looking fairly younger person.