The Key Point

One of the biggest obstacles to a good workout is just getting through the gym’s front door. I don’t mean this in a motivational sense – I mean literally having a gym employee remember to get out of bed and go open the club.

The 5:00 am keymaster ought to feel a lot of pressure. This individual is charged with receiving the gym’s most dedicated members, folks who prioritize exercise above all else. In reality, the keymaster is low-paid, part-time, and easily distracted.

Looming over everything is also the potential for a run-of-the-mill scheduling screwup. A single misunderstanding keeps the gym shut.

Every day when I arrive at the gym at 4:5X am, I press my nose against the locked front doors to make sure there is someone inside setting up the barcode scanners and stacking clean towels. I’m delighted to report that post-COVID, we’ve had a gym opening success rate of 100% (at least on the days I’ve been there). There was that one time when a pipe burst overnight and flooded the place, but that wasn’t the gym’s fault.

Today when I peeked inside, there was no one home. With three minutes to go until 5:00 am, it’s not yet time to panic, however. The front desk attendant occasionally comes running up at 4:59 am, dials the combination on the wall-mounted lockbox, and snags the key.

I pulled the phone out of my pocket to check the time, and all three digits flipped. I looked up and saw the line for the club continuing to grow. The crazy guy I wrote about previously told his phone to: “call gym manager for club number 8830,” but I don’t think his phone was even on.

Observing this unfolding catastrophe, I myself tried to open the lockbox. I don’t know the code though, and the last user had scrambled the combination. If I had been able to get the lockbox open, I understand the argument that I would have been trespassing. However, 1) I am a gym member, and 2) the gym is in breach of contract. If you get me just a couple gym members on that jury, I’m sure I would walk.

At 5:10 am, still waiting, the first person walked off; I followed a couple minutes later. No point in wasting the whole morning when I could still get in some outdoor cardio.

One thing I learned from today’s fiasco is that I am becoming more mature. As I walked home, my thoughts were mostly about gratitude for a year of problem-free openings. Besides, I ended up venting my anger by running the stairs in my condo building, the best possible outlet for my completely justified frustration.

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