Tag Archives: annoying strangers

This tortoise needs to step it up.

30 Mar

I’m half-way to goal for swimming 50 miles before my 40th birthday: Yesterday I logged Mile 25.

It almost didn’t happen. I’m an early riser on the weekends – so much so that I’m often ready to go back to bed around 7am, when my gym opens. But yesterday morning I fought the temptation to stall and trudged the 1.25 miles to the gym. All uphill. In the rain.

Apparently not EVERYONE believes a suit is mandatory.

Apparently not EVERYONE believes a suit is mandatory.

So it was with a certain self-congratulatory smugness (I’m conquering this weekend, dammit!) that I found a locker, stripped down, stepped into my flipflops and – CRAP. What is the one thing you absolutely can’t forget if you want to swim? That’s right: a swimsuit. Oh, I had my goggles and swim cap. I even had a lock for my locker and conditioner for the shower.

But my swimsuit was at home, hanging on the back of the bathroom door where I’d left it to dry earlier this week.

Clothes back on, I walked home, contemplating my next move. Should I mentally check the “gym” box since I’d made the effort, or grab my suit and take a Groundhog’s Day approach to the whole thing?

Tough call, but thirty minutes later, I was back at the gym with my suit in hand. (You don’t even want to know how pleased I was with myself for motivating not just ONCE but TWICE on a rainy weekend.)

I was able to get a good chunk of my mile in with a lane to myself, but with about thirty lengths to go, a guy climbed in my lane. The pool is fairly small – it’s only four lanes – so it’s not uncommon to share a lane. The thing that’s weird about gym-swimming is that almost no one ever circle swims (where you go up one side of the lane and back on the other), even though it would allow a small pool to accommodate more swimmers. Instead, the habit is to split a lane in half down the middle, with each swimmer sticking to his or her half, limiting each lane to a max of two people.

The lanes at my pool are a bit tight to begin with, so splitting a lane can shift my workout from great to frustrating if the person I’m sharing with has any bad habits, such as: being extra splashy, being scared to hug the lane marker, not holding a straight line, or kicking my kidneys when doing the breaststroke.

This guy was extra splashy, in no small part because he was trying to go REALLY FAST. When he hopped in and attempted his first lap, it looked like he was trying to outrun someone threatening to jam a bottle rocket up his ass. Watching him swim toward me, he was a blur of arms and feet, with splashes that would make a toddler proud.

My style tends to be really smooth and non-splashy. Not because I’m a good swimmer, but because I’m lazy. I’ve found that the easiest way to swim laps is by exerting myself as little as possible – so I rely almost exclusively on my arms and shoulders, allowing my legs to drag behind me, just enjoying the ride. I always figure I’m a good person to share a lane with, because I just move along like a sting ray, barely stirring the water.

Image Source: http://theosbornegroupblog.com/news/major-gifts-officer-fable/

However, when I’m sharing a lane with someone who is basically waterboarding me every time we cross paths mid-pool, I begin to get a bit testy. And so I’d deliberately land a few kicks on top of the water, just parallel to his face, each time we met.

At some point, I realized that although he was causing quite the commotion, by the time he stopped to catch his breath and rest at each end, I was actually out-pacing him, much like the Tortoise & the Hare.

In that scenario, I was totally cool being the tortoise – and was actually feeling somewhat smug about it – until I got home and saw on Facebook that my friend Brian just finished swimming 30 miles in the month of March alone.  Um.

Let’s do the math. I’m basically averaging one mile per week (which fits since I tend to make it to the pool weekly at best). Meanwhile, Brian’s doing a mile per day. And – to add insult to injury – somehow Brian has great hair despite the chlorine. So in this scenario, it’s kind of like the Tortoise and the Hair.

My take-away: Apparently the moral of the story isn’t that the turtle always wins. Sometimes slow and steady wins the race, and sometimes slow and steady is just – slow and steady. And has bad hair. I guess that’s what I get for all my smugness. Thanks for the reality check, Brian!


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Your help is not needed. Or appreciated.

16 Jun

The other weekend Alan and I hit a Nats game. If you don’t know what that means, you probably A) Don’t live in the United States, B) Hate Apple Pie, or C) Were home reading The Communist Manifesto.

Actually, I’m not a huge baseball fan myself, but I do love any excuse to sit outside in gorgeous weather with something resembling a purpose. And it turns out? The Nats are actually pretty great this year. Although they ended up losing the game, the first two at-bats resulted in home runs, which is an amazing way to kick off a game.

The over-arching theme of the day, however, was not baseball. It was unhelpful jobs. As Alan said, “This whole idea of re-training the workforce might have gone a bit too far.” Everywhere we turned, there was someone in a somewhat unnecessary job, trying to demonstrate their expertise.

Maybe I’m over-reacting? Here are two examples – tell me what you think…

When we popped up out of the Metro station, a woman was standing in the middle of the closest intersection, indicating when it was safe for pedestrians to cross. It’s no secret that I have no use for crossing guards – usually they’re about 20 seconds behind me in realizing the light has changed, which breeds an inefficiency that drives me nuts. This woman did nothing to help the cause.

We stood at the corner, obediently waiting, despite the fact that there was no traffic. I’d normally just jaywalk, but with cops everywhere, I was worried I might actually get a ticket. (It’s worth nothing that we were in something of a hurry because we were supposed to meet someone in front of the stadium to pick up tickets, and we were cutting it pretty close.)

So we stood. And waited. And watched the minutes tick off. And in my mind I could practically see the ticket dude (whose only descriptor was that he had an all-white beard and would be wearing a Whole Foods beanie) scalping our tickets. Or – even more dramatically – just holding a lighter to them when we no-showed the rendezvous on time.

As soon as the light changed, I stepped off the curb, deciding to obey the crossing signal rather than the crossing guard. And of course I wasn’t disappointed. No sooner  had I done that, than the woman blew her whistle and yelled, “Ma’am! Ma’am! Back on the sidewalk. You have to wait for the light!”

And without slowing down, I pointed at the light and said, “We’re good,” as I kept walking.

Alan apparently felt I was being an ass, because he yelled out, “Thank you for looking out for us.” I shook my head.

Once we were in the stadium, we scored a sausage and a beer just as the game was getting underway. We headed to our seats and were stopped by an older man wearing a jersey that said, “Ask me” on the back.

Without my asking, he said, “Can’t let you down while there’s a batter in the box,” he told us.

Alan and I traded a confused look. We’d never heard of that rule before, but it sounded polite, so who were we to argue? We waited patiently while the batter swung, and swung and swung. It might seem like a batter is up for only a second, but if you’re holding a sausage and feeling it grow cold while you wait, trust me: it feels like an eternity.

Meanwhile, a line of people was building behind us, all of whom were equally confused. “Can we slide past you to get to our seats?” one man asked, thinking we were just hanging out for shits and giggles. We explained why we were waiting. “Wow. I’ve never heard of that,” he said. “Didn’t realize we were so polite at the ballpark.”

We shrugged and shared a smile, looking at Mr. Ask Me for permission to proceed. He shook his head. Behind us, more people piled up. “Do you suppose there are places in the ballpark where this rule isn’t in effect?” I asked Alan.

He nodded. “Yes. It’s called Everywhere Else.”

You might expect me to round out an entry about useless stadium-related jobs by highlighting the mascots. But I’d actually argue that they serve a purpose. If I can define “purpose” as “entertainment.”  Especially in DC, where the Presidents’ Race is a game day favorite. (Not familiar with it? Check out this Wikipedia entry and specifically read the section about Teddy Roosevelt.)

Also? Sometimes they do stuff like THIS, which is why I’ll always petition to fund the mascots:

In fact, perhaps if Mr. Ask Me or the Ms. Traffic managed to moonwalk off a dugout, I’d be defending their jobs too.

It was like being the designated driver for a bunch of nerds.

10 Aug

The hosts of Planet Money: Alan Davidson & Alex Blumberg

First, an admission: I’m a huge dork and I love “behind the scenes” glimpses of programs I follow. That explains my ticket stubs from NBC’s studio tour (including the SNL set) in New York and NPR’s “Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me” show in Chicago.

So it should come as no surprise then that a few weeks ago when NPR hosted a live recording of Planet Money‘s podcast in DC, I eagerly snapped up a ticket. Turns out, I’m not the only nerd in DC. The venue (a Synagogue in Chinatown) was sold out with 800 attendees. I love living in a Nerd Mecca.

One of my friends — whom we’ll call Honer in this post out of a) respect for her privacy and b) her Honorary Nerd status — also picked up a ticket, so we made plans to meet at the show, 30 minutes before doors opened. As my work day wound down, I began receiving texts from Honer, regretting the wine she had consumed the night before.

Not going to call it a hangover, but my head hurts.

Not sure how I’m going to make it tonight. It’s officially a hangover.

Would you think less of me if I show up with a roadie? I think this situation calls for hair of the dog.

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