When I headed to the health club showers, I saw that my two favorites were occupied — one by a person and one by stuff. On the door was a towel, which I could easily ignore, but inside the shower, carefully laid out, ready to use, were some stranger’s toiletries. I saw no one around and considered simply showering there anyway.
Dare I move her belongings out of the shower? Simply scoot her stuff over and use the shower anyway?
Instead, I showered in the stall next to my favorite shower, squatting down every so often to see if the stuff had been joined by a person. No feet. No streaming water. But plenty of anger.
My shower was inferior. I knew the “Goldilocks’ ‘just right’ characteristics” of the stuff-inhabited shower was being wasted on an unauthorized reservation while I suffered with a less-than-perfect stream of water.
“Ooooh! The nerve of some people,” I thought. “How rude!”
I stewed while I showered and considered actions I could take. I could wander the locker room asking who owned the stuff in Shower 5. Or wait and watch for the person and then confront her. Maybe simply move her stuff out of the shower and hope she takes the hint. Tape a note on the shower door saying “Do not reserve showers.” Ask the health club to make a permanent sign saying such.
“But that would be ridiculous,” I said to myself, “because normal people don’t need signs declaring common courtesy.”
I tried to curb my quick judgment. What if this person I had just dubbed “rude” and “abnormal” had gotten an emergency call and simply fled the locker room? What if she had just stopped to use the toilet and it had taken longer than she thought? I finished my shower and noted that the stuff-inhabited shower was still vacant with no sign of an occupant nearby.
“I’m going to blog about this,” I thought, judgment-mode back and intact, and headed to my locker to get my phone to shoot a picture. (Pictures are worth a thousand words, of course.)
Then I remembered that the club used to have a sign posted banning the use of camera phones in the locker room and hesitated. I scanned the walls, saw no sign of it, and prepared mentally.
“I have become a creeper.”
And, yet, I couldn’t resist.
Surreptitiously, I flip-flopped toward the showers, no doubt inconspicuous in my hot pink robe with a cell phone in hand, rather than the customary basket of shower supplies. I rounded the corner, and, shock!, the shower was in use. Somewhere in my wavering moments of lucidity, the stuff’s owner had arrived. I had been saved from my idiot behavior. Tucking the camera close to my robe, I turned to return, unobserved, to my locker. As I did, I noticed the hooks near the pool door, where I often hung my toiletries and towel while using the pool, and I wondered if it ever bothered anyone that I hogged a hook for nearly an hour before using the shower area. That made me think about my other habits and behaviors that I find completely normal and acceptable and how they might be perceived by others. Maybe someone considered me rude and abnormal.
It was something to consider. Maybe I should judge less and love more. That is what I would want others to do for me. Those thoughts mollified my anger.
At that point it was easier to resist the urge to actually watch for the wearer of the generic white towel; I resumed my own toilette and tried not to notice the towels of those returning from the showers. Thankfully, I never saw “the towel” and never put a face with the stuff, or with my quick judgment.
I took no picture of a shower that day, but I saw a picture of myself that I didn’t care to see. My goal: judge less; love more.