Antique Embarrassment

The Treadmill

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.


41 thoughts on “The Treadmill

  1. P.S. I’m really not the insomniac your blog thinks I am. It’s only just after midnight in California… just thought I’d point that out.

  2. Funny and quite embarrassing story:) If that hapenned to me I would probably do the same – mind my own business;)

  3. And the gazelle… by your description of her abilities to not make eye contact with you… she is from Boston. If you ever had to drive and try and merge through Boston during the BIG DIG traffic mess years ago – you would know that they drive with the ‘if I don’t see you – you can’t merge’ mentality. Some Boston locals had told me it would happen – but I never would have believed it until I drove through it.

  4. Oh . . . the busybody gene. I have a good friend with it. She’s constantly embarassing me by giving advice to complete strangers. However, she also gives me good advice from time to time, so I’ve learned to live with it! ‘;-)

  5. This is one of several reasons I do not belong to a gym. 1. I can’t exercise around other people until I know what I’m doing and I can’t know what I’m doing until I’ve exercised more. 2. I haven’t found the pocked of time yet. 3. I’m not ready to try and converse with anyone whilst on a treadmill, because I would be huffing and puffing too hard. 4. Too many embarrassment possibilities. 5. Fine, I’ll say it: I’m also kind of lazy. Case in point, I see I have mis-spelled “pocket” above, and it won’t let me highlight it. I don’t wish to rewrite everything, so I’m going to leave it.

  6. I’ve done the same thing with various items, (ATM’s, vending machines, doors that won’t open!) and of course the next person ALWAYS gets them to work! I’m just going to keep my shut! One of these days.

  7. You tried to be nice but that time it did not work out to well. You are probably one of those people who would tell someone if they had something on their teeth or in their hair…etc… I do the same. Even if I do not know the person but they are always grateful.

  8. I always pretend that the other person is on that Hidden Camera show when stuff like that happens. Look the first girl directly in the eye and then nod meanfully towards a potted plant. Keep doing this until A) your workout is over or B) she actually goes over to check out the plant. Then make your escape.

  9. I have the Mrs. Kravitz gene – as well as the obsession with tucking down clothing tags. Sometimes being helpful backfires – I’m laughing WITH you…Kim

  10. Hey! You didn’t ignore me when we ran on the treadmills. And if I recall, you lasted a good 10 minutes longer than I. Hmph. Maybe I should run more to keep up with you.

  11. I would totally have done the same thing, except I wouldn’t have been able to not offer an explanation. I hate the feeling of being misunderstood (even my intentions). And Quirky–great suggestion. I would not have the moxie to pull that one off…I’d start laughing too hard!

  12. That sort of thing would NEVER happen to me, primarily because I can’t bring msyelf to go public in spandex and to workout. I hide in my dark, little house where no one can see my jiggles.

    That said, I do tend to be the “here, let me help you” busybody sort; and I have been in similar embarrasing situations more times than I can count. I feel your pain.

    I love your description of the girls fix-it book. You are so ‘right on’. I’m sure that booklet has a chapter on what to do when you have car trouble, too. You stand outside the car with the hood up, peeking in like you know what you’re looking for. When some sap of a guy finally stops to help you, even if the sun is beating down a hundred degrees, you stand there watching him, all the while knowing you don’t know squat about what he’s doing, and that he KNOWS you don’t know squat about what he’s doing.

  13. Love it! I am the same way.
    Except for the working out in public thing. Did that as a young single gal, actually taught aerobics, but now…the treadmill is in the basement.


  14. Oh, this would SO happen to me… you were just being considerate. Who knew it would backfire like that?

    Hope it doesn’t keep you from helping others in the future.

  15. Yep. This brought back a sort of fond memory. Many many many moons ago when I used to frequent a gym (Ladies Workout Express or somesuch), the antique treadmills had a sensor in them that informed the machine if someone was on it or not, and then it would turn on. I’d run myself ragged on one of the machines and then moved on to another station. A girl jumping on my just vacated treadmill and pushed the ON button. Nothing happened. She tinkered and poked, shot me a look, then went looking for some help. She brought back one of the people who manned the front desk, gestured in a frustrated manner at the machine and then POINTED AT ME with THAT look on her face. The look that says “that fat girl broke the machine.” I pretended not to notice and tried to concentrate on the leg machine. Then I heard the worker get on the treadmill and start it right up. Then the girl got back on…and nothing. The worker said, loudly, “You don’t weigh enough!” and she walked away. Needless to say, I had a big evil grin on my chubby face that day.

  16. There was one nice older lady whom I often chatted with at the gym. I hadn’t been there for several weeks and when I returned and saw her, she said, “Oh, I see you had your baby.” Being that I am 60 years old, I thought not. Did I look younger and “chunkier” a few weeks ago? I just smiled and nodded, thinking that we were both very confused.

  17. You are hilarious! I am enjoying both your blogs immensly! An i agree with your “about me” on the lifeless lot and architectural blueprints! Fellow interior designer here!

  18. Oh snap. I’d love to have been inside that girl’s head when she saw the gazelle jump on. Wonder what she thought your motive was.

    I had a lady yell at me the other day for talking too loudly to my friend on the treadmill. It’s not a library for Pete’s sake!

  19. This is the reason I bought an elliptical and stopped going to the gym: I’m too nosy to pay attention to my own workout. I’ve almost fallen off the treadmill before because I was watching someone else in the mirror. And I feel extremely intimidated by the girls next to me in real workout clothes and going wicked, wicked fast and when I talk to her, she isn’t even out of breath or breaking a sweat. :/

  20. Maybe she was actually staring at your TINY FEET. (hee hee! Speaking of gazelle-like!)

    And I’m impressed with anyone who is willing to go out to a public place for exercise. I run on my own treadmill in the privacy of my own basement because I am too uncoordinated to let go of the handles…I fall off of it often. So, as you can imagine, I would be DANGEROUS around others.

  21. “She leaps on and begins loping like a gazelle in springtime.” I love that line. And it brings a very vivid picture to my mind of this woman, loping on the tread mill. Like a gazelle. In springtime. So funny.

  22. Well, ya know, there are those people we just HAVE to help. And for us it’s hard not to, like the line of cars trying to turn left onto the interstate on-ramp even though there is a police officer standing in the middle of the road waving people off because of the burning car just beyond him. I had an overwhelming urge to go help those people! (Can’t write here what I would have told ’em tho)

  23. Great story. I have been there. The Gazelle must posess a special ability that enables her to control machines….like the little boy on Heroes. Totally not your fault.

  24. If you need some ketchup they have it on deep discount at Big Lot’s right now. I picked up a bottle of it last night. It’s even name brand!

    Haha, I kid.

  25. This is funny because if you’ve spent even one week at the gym, you know this could have happened to you. I laughed till my sides hurt at this story!!

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