January 22, 2012

In the locker room

I could pay for my gym membership just by selling the stuff that people leave behind in the locker room. So far this month, I’ve found a flowered beach towel, a wooden hair brush, a green nalgene bottle, a silver bracelet, a crumpled pair of white socks, a plastic hair thing, a purple t-shirt from a national park, and a bathing suit sized for someone with no appetite.

The most valuable thing I’ve found yet was a smartphone left in a bathroom stall. I didn’t want to just toss it in the Lost & Found box, so I clicked on facebook, found a name and photo, and then went out into the locker room to find her. She was an older woman, of course. Like me, she grew up in the days when telephones were attached to walls and there was no chance of ever leaving them in a public bathroom.

My kids never even use the locker rooms — they wear their workout clothes to the gym (yes, shorts, paired with a winter coat) and just go straight to the workout rooms. “It’s no wonder you always find stuff in the locker room,” my daughter said when I reported the day’s findings. “There are always mothers with little kids. I’m guessing when you come to the gym with a bunch of little kids, you feel lucky if you just manage to leave with the same number of kids you came with.”

It’s true that I sometimes run into herds of little kids in the locker room, but I’m never in a big hurry to actually work out. I’ll play with a toddler while her mother’s getting dressed or hold an infant while her mother uses the bathroom. The warm locker room is a friendly place, filled with half-dressed women who are cramming stuff into gym bags, wrapping towels around little kids, or drying their hair in front of the big mirrors. Despite every stereotype I've ever heard, the locker room smells good — like floral shampoo, warm cotton, perfumed deodorant — and the chaos makes me feel right at home.


Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I love when you write posts like this. They remind me of the writing exercise where you describe a person by describing her things... It's like a stolen glimpse through a window.

Lilian said...

forgotten, stuff, people and all that warmth, right? I have a good suspicion that this coming February will be the best (or least bad) for you in years, no? just go to the gym as often as you can and it should lift your spirits.

the bad thing about university locker rooms (ours at least!) is that there are (few) children only on weekends and we hardly ever go then.

weird word verif! urimemil

Anonymous said...

I'm one of those people who is always losing stuff in locker rooms and bathrooms.