Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Don't Drink and Treadmill

With a mix of pity and scorn, I go out of my way to visit the exercise facilities offered by any hotel where I stay -- mostly to survey the horrors of what someone thinks passes for an exercise facility, but willing to be pleasantly surprised -- and so it was during my recent visit to Great Wolf Lodge.

I entered to find that the exercise bikes, elliptical machines, and treadmills were of reasonably good quality, and the room was outfitted with several televisions to distract the bored. I've seen better, and I've certainly seen worse.

What came next was novel, however: a Latino man was just climbing onto one of the treadmills and began clumsily fiddling with the controls. He pushed a button or two and seemed to try to start running, but the machine was unresponsive. He tried again, and then again. At last he turned to me because, I don't know, maybe I look like someone with "a sense for" treadmills?

"Sir," he slurred. "How do you ..." gesturing toward the treadmill. I approached and soon realized the two-fold nature of the problem: first, the treadmill's large green "quick start" button -- similar to the one pictured here, but much larger and more prominent -- had not been pressed, maybe because the large red scrolling readout of "PRESS QUICK START TO BEGIN" had been carelessly left in English; second, and most importantly, the man was extremely drunk. I concluded he was drunk not only from the slurring of his speech but from the thickly-alcoholic fumes mingling with his breath and extruding from his pores.

I maintained my coherence despite the buzz I was catching from his alcoholic discharge long enough to direct him to press the gigantic "quick start" button and adjust his pace using the "speed" up-arrow / down-arrow buttons next to it, before backing away and leaving the room. My tolerance for alcohol is only so high, surely no higher than my tolerance for treadmills or the cramped, sad, stultifying little hovels they call "exercise facilities" in most hotels.

(Photo Source)

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