The other day I was on a treadmill at the health club, listening to my iPod and minding my own business. That is, I was minding my own business as much as anyone can at a health club. The reality is that we are all uniformly packed in together like a can of spandex-wearing, walking sardines. We avert our eyes and just pretend to mind our own business.
Try as I might to block out all that is going on around me, I am acutely aware of who is walking on either side of me, in front of me, how fast they are going, what they are wearing and unfortunately, sometimes even what they smell like. Sardines.
The treadmill to my left had no one on it until a young gal in her 20s jumped on. She did a few calf stretches and then pushed a few buttons to make it go, but nothing happened.
If you are female, then you know then that when confronted with something electronic that doesn’t work, the How Ladies Fix Stuff handbook instructs you to find a wire and jiggle it. After that, according to the Chapter Two, you locate the plug and unplug it and then plug it firmly back in. Repeat six or seven times. If you have PMS, skip that part and go directly to step #3 and prod it with your toe — or — if no one is around, execute a swift kick to the largest surface area. Step #4, give up and go shoe shopping at a mall that has a Godiva store.
But I have digressed from my fascinating tale of a broken treadmill.
So she pushed the buttons again, jiggled the magnetic safety key and then she gave up and got on another treadmill two rows ahead. A slight deviation from the handbook, but problem solved! She probaby went shoe shopping after she finished working out.
About a minute after that another gal jumped on the same broken treadmill. Being the good citizen that I am, a good citizen who can’t mind her own business, I took my earphones out of my ears and informed her that that treadmill was broken. “Oh,” she said, fully believing me. Then she hopped off and got on the treadmill to my right which had just become available, but unfortunately had an obstructed view of the televisions.
About two minutes after that, another young gal hopped on the broken treadmill. She had her iPod on and truly was minding her own business – there was no getting her attention. She did a few minutes of Olympic gymnast-style stretching and then a full minute of pulse checking and iPod adjusting. The whole time, I keep glancing over to see if I can get her attention to warn her that the machine is broken. But to her, I did not exist. I could have had a heart attack and rolled off the back and she would not have noticed. As she reaches for the ON button, I cringe and even feel a little sorry for her, because I know what is about to happen – nothing. But nothing doesn’t happen. The belt starts merrily whirring around and around. She leaps on and begins loping like a gazelle in springtime.
At this point, I’m trying to keep my eyes focused straight ahead, because I sense that the gal to my right, who is not watching television because she can’t really see it, is staring a hole though me and glaring at gazelle girl who is bounding along enjoying Regis and Kelly.
I considered that perhaps I should pull out my earphones and offer an explanation, but decided instead to put my head down and mind my own business.