Check yourself before you wreck yourself
I am not a physically violent person. I sometimes talk a little smack, but all in all, I am a fairly peaceful, non-confrontational type of gal. I do, however, get a little aggressive about a few things. One of these few things just happens to be track etiquette.
I am a member of the local gym, and during these cold winter months when it is not uncommon to have daytime highs in the below zero range, I run on the track there. I have tried to run on the treadmill, but it truly makes me want to kill myself. I marvel at those who are able to do it, and I am absolutely astonished by those who actually seem to enjoy it.
I don’t love to run on a track, but it beats the alternative of not running at all till the weather warms up. What galls me, however, is that as mind-numbingly easy as running (or walking) around in a circle would seem, there are still those who get it wrong.
There is a big sign at one end of the gym with large arrows that states on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the track is to be traversed in a clockwise direction (if you are standing in front of the sign facing the track). On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, runners and walkers should travel in a counter-clockwise direction. As you might have guessed, sometimes people don’t follow the literal “directions” on the great big sign. There have been a number of times that I have seen people going against the flow, and it is usually one or another of two groups of people.
The first group that doesn’t always seem to get it right is the really old people. I don’t know if they are so far off in la-la land that they don’t even know their first name, or if they are just so old that they don’t really give a fuck; they’ll just do what they want. Either way, they are old, and they are my elders, so it is not my place to question them.
The other group who I often see not acknowledging the sign are often people I guess to be non-native speakers, and for the most part, I give them an initial pass. I mean, let’s face it, if you can’t read the sign, I can’t really hold you accountable for not following what it says. This pass, however, comes with a caveat. Just because you are unable to read the sign or maybe you didn’t see it, you do have eyes. You should at least be paying enough attention to see that EVERYONE else is going the other way.
I have even been guilty of thinking it was the wrong day and maybe doing a lap or two before realizing I was going against the flow and correcting myself. This was not the case with the girl at the gym tonight. There was a girl who was going the wrong way for a long time. She spent a good share of her track time looking down at her phone, so I guess I can see why she wasn’t seeing what was as plain as the nose on her face.
In addition to the directional sign, there is a much smaller sign stating that the walkers should use the inside lanes and let the runners use the outside lanes. Many people either don’t see this sign, or don’t give a shit. I take issue with all of them, and this girl with her nose in her phone was no exception.
I tried several laps previous to give her the spin around sign by waving my finger in a circle followed by pointing in the right direction. She either didn’t notice, or didn’t care. A few laps later after a few more near collisions, I saw a fellow runner just ahead of me give her the same sign. I again gave her the sign hoping that she would get a clue and reverse course. Nope! That didn’t happen. Eventually, after playing chicken with her one too many times, she was passing by the stairwell, which can be a cluster of people coming and going. She was busily texting or watching YouTube or God only knows what. I was bearing down on her in the runners lane. She was walking in the wrong direction in the lane reserved for runners. Come Hell or high water this was not one fight from which I was going to back down .
I watched as I ran closer and closer. She continued to come nearer to me completely oblivious to all that was going on around her. Finally we met. I never left my lane, nor broke my stride, and she moved to the side at the last minute causing only our shoulders to collide in what was a rather a benign “check.”
It probably pissed her off. I felt exhilarated. I am usually the person who will move, so as to avoid a conflict, but DAMMIT she was walking the wrong way in MY lane, and I wasn’t about to put up with that.
She left the track shortly after that. I thought I saw her waiting for me at the exit as I was leaving, so as a precaution I went back to the locker room for a few more minutes before leaving for real a few minutes later. Maybe I am paranoid, but you hear of people who freak out and go postal because somebody “disrespected” them all the time. The funny thing, though, in my experience, the ones who are so often the quickest to yell “foul” are the ones too oblivious to the other human beings on the planet to bother to go the right direction on the track.