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Think back to when you were a freshman in college. You were all bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to try new things and have experiences that you would never forget, both good and bad. It’s really easy to focus on the positives that came out of those four (or five) years, so today I want to focus on the negatives because I was forced to re-live one of them today.
If you lived in the dorms your freshman year, you probably remember the communal bathrooms. You also probably either experienced first-hand, or know someone who experienced, forgetting their key to their room when they left to go take a shower and had to walk all the way to the front desk in a towel to get a temporary one. That happened to me and I swore it would never happen again. I learned from my mistake. Plus, when would I ever be in the presence of communal showers again?
Fast forward to this morning. Part of my company’s benefits package is a gym membership, and I’m lucky enough to have one right around the corner from my office. I recently decided that I was going to try to be one of those guys who works out before work. As much as it sucks to have to get up an extra two hours earlier than I used to, I’m easing into it. Plus, my gym has some great amenities in the locker room (as I came to find out today).
After today’s workout, I went down to the locker room, opened my locker so that I could strip down and store my clothes while I went to take a shower. You know, as you do when you go to take a shower at the gym. When I closed the locker, I entered in the exact same fucking pin number that I use for literally anything that requires a pin number, and left.
Seven to ten relaxing and water pressure-filled minutes later, I returned to my locker, only to find that that same fucking pin number was no longer working on my lock. All the sudden, there I was. Eighteen years old, naked(ish), and scared. They say that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Well I tried that damn pin number around 10 times, plus any close numbers on the dial pad just in case my fingers slipped. Nothing.
What was I supposed to do? I had to be at work in 10 minutes and there wasn’t a phone or anything in sight. No alarms I could ring. No “Push This Button In Case Of Emergency Or Getting Locked Out Of Your Locker Like A Fucking Idiot” signs. Could I have asked one of the other guys my age changing clothes? Technically, yes, but that goes against every bit of locker room etiquette that I’ve ever learned. Being painfully awkward doesn’t help.
That’s not to say I didn’t try to communicate, though. It went something like the following:
Me: Tries combination for the 15th time, only to find that it doesn’t work. Notices other guy my age getting dressed. Looks over at him, widening my eyes.
Other guy: Makes Jim Halpert face over at me.
Me: Shakes head and gives a “Just one of those days” shrug.
After I realized it was no use, I decided to try and make something productive out of this situation. Essentially, I just went through my whole morning routine while confined to this locker room. Used some of the communal mouthwash to rinse out and freshen up. Chicago winters get really cold, obviously, which dries the hell out of your skin. So I lotioned up before fixing my hair and beard in the mirror.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity, a maintenance guy came through to grab the leftover towels.
“Hey man,” I called to him, “I’m so glad you came in. I’m sure this happens a lot but I actually got locked out of my locker. Is there any way you can help me out here?
“You got locked out of your locker after taking a shower? That sucks! That actually doesn’t happen that often. Most people are able to remember their combinations. Or they just don’t lock up at all.”
“Right so can you help me or…”
“Yeah man, for sure,” he said, laughing at me and shaking his head. He left the locker room and came back a few seconds later with a giant key fob, and sure enough, he was able to get my locker open. I thanked him and hustled my ass off to get to work soon enough to be able to reasonably explain why I was late. Luckily, my boss had been there before and bought it.
I guess the moral of this story is that even when you think you’ve learned something that you’ll never forget, you’ll probably forget it at some point and have to re-learn it. Either that, or I don’t know how locks work. .
Image via Shutterstock