For financial reasons (but mostly convenience and laziness), I workout in the fitness center at my apartment complex. Depending on what I'm doing that day I might listen to music--but most of the time, I prefer to be alone with my thoughts in complete silence. That can be hard to obtain in a common facility, naturally, but with a little clever scheduling, you can maximize the likelihood of getting the place to yourself. If there are others there when I show up it's no big deal. I do what I came to do and move on.
I do have a code, though. A simple one, based on basic respect: If you come in the gym, and something you want to do is going to change the atmosphere of the gym for persons already there, at least be courteous enough to check with those persons before you just up and alter things.
See? Simple. At least you'd think it was...
I was alone in the fitness center today, working back. the door from the outside has a coded lock on it, and everyone who lives there is given the code. So it's safe to assume that anyone who can't open the door has either forgotten the code--or doesn't live there. So anyway, I'm doing my thing, when I noticed what looked like a Black woman standing outside with her hand on the doorknob, peering in to see if anyone was inside with a Black man over her shoulder. I'm not gonna lie, sometimes I've pretended to not see folks at the door, or stood completely still hoping they wouldn't see me, all in the name of preserving my silent gym. Most of the time, however, I wind up opening the door for them because they've either spotted me and started knocking or I've spotted them before the knock and know what's coming. In this case, I hadn't heard a knock, but I figured if I saw them, they saw me, so...
As I approached the door, I saw another Black dude coming and my concerns only increased. If they were all together, I just knew they'd come in, talking all loud and goofing around (the third dude was scrawny as a rail; I had no delusions he was coming in to do any serious work; alas, he never did anything but sit). When I reached the door, the guy who I thought was behind the woman was now front and center. For all I knew, maybe he'd been there the whole time. In any event, I opened the door, and he said, "Thanks." At least there's that, I thought. Then I went back to the bench while he, the woman, and the scrawny guy came in.
As I picked up my weights and got a better look at my new gym mates, I realized that the "woman" was most likely a transsexual--the only thing giving it being the muscularity of her arms. They weren't muscular as in a "she works out" kind of way. No, they were muscular in a "those are the arms of a really skinny guy" way. Either way, it didn't matter; she wore a long sundress and was snacking--loudly--on a bag of chips. In other words, she wasn't there to do any work, either. And unless you count a few seconds of watching herself twerk in a mirror was work, she lived up to my assessment.
So with Scrawny Dude just lounging around and Ms. Thing checking herself out and grubbing, that left the other guy--the only one that was there to use the room for it's intended purpose. As expected, they talked loudly, disturbing my peace, but it wasn't until Mr. Workout pulled out a small radio and turned it on--without so much as a word or look in my direction--that I really got annoyed. It's weird; we've gone from having radios playing music out loud or over speakers, to doing our own thing via headphones, back to having our music playing out loud, this time from phones or pill-like wireless devices.
You might be reading this and think I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, but my thing is this: if someone was quietly working out in the gym when I got there, what in the world makes me think they want to listen to my music out loud--music that didn't exist before I walked into the room? To me, that's a special kind of arrogance, but it happens all the time. And what pissed me off in this particular case was that the problem wouldn't have existed if I hadn't let them in. So, in essence, it was my fault. Being nice had, as it has so many times before, bit me in the ass.
After doing absolutely nothing but adding noise to the room and loitering around on equipment I thought I'd have to ask them to move from so that I could use it, Ms. Thing and Scrawny Dude left, going outside with Mr. Workout to a vehicle they had guided by cell phone into the complex. Apparently there was a trade-off; Mr. Workout returned with a new friend, while the vehicle with the loiterers went on its way. Mr. Workout operated as a trainer, showing his friend a few things. At least he was there to actually workout. I don't know what all they did, though; I left soon after my last set.
Just another day in the fitness center...