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…