Seniority Card Not Working Here

In a Dear Abby column on Sunday, a reader described her recent frustration at her apartment gym. She had a longstanding routine each day where she would arrive at the gym, hop on her favorite machine, and turn the television to a certain channel. At one point, the reader noticed a younger woman arriving shortly after she started her workout. After a couple weeks, this younger woman started arriving before the reader did. To the reader’s horror, when she would walk into the gym the younger woman would be on her machine with the TV set to a different channel. The reader explained that this new development was ruining her exercise time.

The reader asked Abby if it would be appropriate to pull her “seniority card” and ask the younger woman to defer the machine and the television remote to her. The woman was obviously hitting the gym earlier so she could beat out the reader for the preferable equipment and the TV privileges. It wasn’t fair, the reader reasoned, because her work schedule didn’t allow her to “one up” the younger woman and get there even earlier than her.

Rightfully so, Abby told the reader her proposal was out of line. It is gym etiquette, Abby responded, that equipment usage and amenity availability is distributed on a “first come, first serve” basis, not a “seniority” system.

I will say this, I know the reader’s frustration. A fan of routine myself, or, as my wife calls me, “a creature of habit,” I like doing certain tasks in a predictable manner. This translates to my workouts as well. Depending on what I am focusing on that day, I have a specific plan on what benches, machines, equipment, etc. I will be using. In a perfect world, everything will be clear and available to me at the exact minute my body says I need it. One reason why I exercise right when the gym opens early in the morning is so I can increase the chances of this “perfect world” scenario.

But, it doesn’t always happen that way. When I am in a groove and all I want to do is keep the momentum going by jumping on the incline bench, nothing sucks more than when someone else is using the only incline bench that happens to be in the gym. It might cause me to say a bad word in my head.

Although I am already at fault for letting it get to me, I always do have a backup plan. I have created my workouts in a flexible manner so that even if the backup to my backup to my backup is being used, I have something else to turn to. Although having this many alternatives is easier said than done in an apartment gym, the Dear Abby reader needs to learn to cope.

We don’t just need backup plans in the gym, we need them in all facets of life. If a meeting goes off schedule, a trip is delayed, a show is sold out, or weather ruins an occasion, we have to respond the best way possible by countering with an alternative. In most cases, pulling the “seniority card” or writing to an advice columnist is not going to solve the issue. Don’t Blink.

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