I demand high standards from my locker room. I like the perks. I like limitless towel access. I like a box of soft tissues on the counter. I like more than one urinal, and for those urinals to flush on their own. I like a locker I can call my own. I like a locker room that seems styled just for me.
The more the locker room adheres to my taste, the less I have to adjust, and the less I have to think.
5am is quite early for thinking, and my brain isn’t just ready to take on a challenge. At 5am, pouring a glass of water is a challenge, so trying to remember to pack underwear is an impossibility.
So I like my locker room stagnate. I like my mornings uneventful. One slight hiccup or change, and I’m standing above a swimming lane without my goggles and earplugs.
I don’t adapt well in the locker room. I function on habit. Move me from one gym to another, and there is a learning period, four to six weeks, perhaps. I’m not a Locker Adapter.
I’ve visited other gyms, have worked out, and have taken a shower only to find I had no towel. A sweatshirt isn’t a very absorbent substitute, I have found.
Winter break poses the greatest obstacle. Something about those frigid two weeks off from my school routine that blanks my memory. It’s like getting amnesia in my Christmas stocking.
“Oh, thanks, Santa. Now, I won’t remember my lock combination when I head back to school.”
One January 4, I did just that. Assisted by my Christmas amnesia, I forgot my lock combination.
There I stood, naked, staring at a closed locker, my underwear on the other side. I secured the damp towel around my waist and walked from the locker room and into the hall toward the manager’s office.
“You won’t believe this, but I don’t remember my lock combination,” I confessed.
“And your lock is on the locker,” the manager replied without looking up at me.
“I’ll get Hank,” he said, turning to grab his radio.
“Okay.” Satisfied with whatever a Hank was, I walked back to the locker room. I waited a bit, and then a fully clothed Hank approached with enormous bolt cutters.
“You the locker guy?” Hank asked pointing to me with the cutters. An image of Friday the 13th flashed through my mind. All those near-naked teens who stupidly welcome a dude with bolt cutters. I stuttered out some reply.
He showed little emotion. Of course, it was only 5:45am. Who knows. Hank had probably just arrived. He was probably hoping for a hot cup of coffee to wake him but was pulled away from the coffee pot by my amnesia.
“You don’t know the combination?” asked Hank.
“No.” My head bowed in shame.
“Why’d you put it on?”
And that was that. Hank walked off. I had my clothes but no lock.
I’ve had a lock with a key ever since. Screw that combination stuff.