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Re: A FITNESS CENTER AND A BUS VIGNETTE

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Nice writing schlomo. Interesting stories.

 

It is really disappointing that the 24/7 staff blew you off about the towel people. They should nip this in the bud. One gym I belonged to awhile back had signs on each machine that they couldn't be reserved in this way. Another had a sign-up sheet for cardio machines. It's ridiculous to "reserve" a machine on a weight circuit. Go back and complain more expressively to the management.

 

Guy on the bus, interesting. I had some thoughts about that but decided to keep them to myself. Your analysis is better than mine.

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A FITNESS CENTER AND A BUS VIGNETTE

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The Egregious Misuse of the White Towel

There is a disturbing trend at the 24/7 fitness center in Honolulu: To keep their place on a weight machine that they temporarily leave for a few moments or for much longer, some audacious young people drape a white towel on the seat. I don’t care where or why they feel compelled to go. Anyone who wants to work out on a vacant machine has a right to do so. I see red every time I see the white towel. It is a no-trespassing sign of entitlement gone wild. I’d love to remove it, even trash it, but I have restrained myself so far. 

Yesterday, I complained to the manager about this proprietary white-towel syndrome. He agreed that hogging a machine (whether incessantly on it or reserving it) displays a lack of civility in our increasingly shameless culture. But he said that he can’t dictate how members conduct themselves unless they are blatantly abusive. And my concern didn’t meet that standard.

Then he suggested that I politely tell the offenders (when they return to what they consider to be their own private machine) that their behavior is “inappropriate.”  I have been tempted to do so, but I would probably not be discrete enough, so I prefer to avoid that confrontation, at least for now.

When living in the dorms fifty years ago, I knew the proper use of the white towel. If a guy stuck a white towel through a crack in his room, he had a girl in his clutches; and he was not to be disturbed. Everyone obeyed that unwritten law. On the other hand, I have no respect for the white towel on the seat of a weight machine. It is an affront to common decency, and its rude owners should voluntarily surrender it.

 

A Man for all Seasons?

Today on the bus, I sat directly across from a well-groomed middle-aged man who sorted through a voluminous satchel filled with helter-skelter papers—anything from tiny receipts to official-looking documents. As he began to take out one item, he fixated on it for a while, and became almost electrified as he started to babble to a woman sitting diagonally behind him.  She ignored the strange man who was like Jack Nicholson in a maniacally good mood. After the maestro of half-crazed scrutiny apprised and grandiosely crinkled up bits of paper, he stuffed them back into his carrying case, rummaged through some more items, and hoisted them up for examination, jabbering all the while to that same woman who continued to stare straight ahead unmoved by his incoherent monologue.

The man was obviously unhinged and befuddled, but he seemed to be happy enough. He was so unselfconscious and pleased by what he had hoarded and revealed that I almost envied him.

When he got near to his destination, however, he calmly closed his satchel, sedately waited for the bus to stop, and seamlessly blended in with the other passengers who exited the bus.

I was taken aback: I began to wonder if his earlier frantic gesturing and gibberish might not have been genuine, just an inspired shtick, a bravura performance that perhaps no one on the bus beside me had been suckered into. In any case, it will be hard to forget that weirdly uninhibited character, whatever his intentions.

schlomo
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