Riddle me this, readers:

You’re at the gym. It’s empty, but for one solitary person – a clumsy redhead, say – who is wheezing away on the treadmill right next to the wall. This treadmill is one of about ten such machines, so there are lots to choose from. Do you:

a) Use the treadmill furthest away from the wheezy redhead.

b) Use one in the middle of the row, so you’re not too close to the wheezy redhead, but not so far away that she’ll worry that she smells or something.

c) Use the treadmill RIGHT NEXT TO HERS, even although there are, as noted, about eight other ones to choose from.

d) Leave the gym immediately. Ain’t no way you’re sharing space with a GINGER.

I would choose option A. This is because I hate people, and I like a bit of space while I’m working out. Also because I am apparently incapable of listening to music without kind of mouthing along to the words, and sometimes, you know, busting some moves.  I’ve been listening to a lot of Lady Gaga on my runs: you can imagine how good THAT looks. Put it this way: you totally CAN read my poker face. GOD. When I’m not singing, though, my mouth just kind of hangs open, like a slack-jawed yokel, and I CANNOT keep it closed. Which is… nice.

So, yes, I would choose option A every time.  Every other member of our gym, though? Option C. Doesn’t matter how many machines are free, they will choose the one next to mine. Every. Time.  This is how The Others behave, obviously. It kind of horrifies me, because as well as the aforementioned “mouthing”,  I sound like I’m having a fit when I run. Seriously, it’s like I’m dying. And when someone else is running along just an arm’s length away from me, I have to spend the whole run repeating, “Shut your mouth. Be quiet. Stop singing. Shut your mouth. Be quiet!” (In my own head, obviously. Well, at least I THINK I say it in my own head…)

(Note: I obviously don’t mind people being near me if the gym is busy. Well, I do, but I don’t feel I can complain about it. I’m talking about when it’s as quiet as the grave, though, and I’m the only other person in it. )

This is, of course, the same phenomenon I used to notice when I would go swimming at the gym, and instantly my lane would fill with fifteen other people, while the rest of the pool remained totally empty. Terry says people just like a bit of company, and I’m weird. This may well be true. Either that or it’s the “If you’re crazy, come and sit next to me!” sign on my forehead…

  1. Well, after leaning towards option d (joke! I would like to add!), I would choose option a) or b). After all, I turn into a sweaty and largely yucky mess when doing anything gym related, and would appreciate someone doing the same for me and staying the hell away from the creaky sweaty panting lump that is me in the corner.
    .-= Lauren Cooke´s last blog ..Puff Pastry Parcel =-.

  2. This happens to me at the gym too – and everywhere else for that matter 🙂

    I’ve been trying to figure out how to make a career out of it… shops should totally pay me for this! I’ve temporarily saved so many shops from poor sales in a recession simply by walking into them. There’ll be no-one else in there when I enter, but within 5 minutes of me going in, the rest of the population suddenly all seems to decide to shop in the exact same shop as me. It’s a skill, I tells ya – we’re blessed 😉
    .-= Mags´s last blog ..How To Install WordPress: The “So You Want A Website” Back To Basics Series =-.

    1. Yes! This happens to me too. I particularly hate it when I try to surreptitiously try on a jacket or something without going into the changing room, and everyone in the store suddenly crowds around to watch me – aaargh!

      1. I always get annoyed walking down a street or going into a store cause people with either follow me or gawk at me like I'm some three eyed alien and all I want to do is yell "Have you never seen a redhead before?! BUZZ OFF!" Hahaha. It does nothing for my self esteem. I'm a 21 yr old college student whose never been asked out on a date, but guys love to brag about how they love redheads. I want to go to a dream place, where there is a city of just redheads and no one stares at you like you don't belong there or like they are so utterly offended that you even exist. Magnetism hmm? Can I exchange that back at the store? LOL.

  3. And here I thought I had a unique gift of magnetism. Apparently, we all share the same… something. It is like when you are allergic to (or absolutely hate) cats, and then every cat in the area comes to rub against your leg.

    I have thought about renting myself out as well, Mags.

  4. Well, I have to say that the behaviour you described contradicts everything I learned at school (I do social studies). The theory in proxemics says that people usually choose to mantain their distance when dealing with strangers, without exagerating, though. That means that if, say, you have a man seating at the end of a theatre row and all the other seats are free, the next person to come will occupy the seat placed at equal distance between the end of the row and the one already taken. That way, you don't invade your peer's personal space, but you don't offend him by seating yourself too far away.

    That means that the theoretical choice should be b. Of course, in the real world things don't go quite as the theory says 😛 Still weird, though. I should take this up with my proffessor…

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