Kindness of a Stranger

I have been a member of a health club for nearly 20 years, and a fairly regular user at that. It’s not that I love exercise so much; I do like the fact that a better mood is usually 30 minutes away on an elliptical machine.

The other day, I grabbed a magazine, punched in a 1/2 hour program and slipped into auto-pilot. I was in the cool-down mode when a woman on the treadmill next to me said, “Whew, how long did it take you to get so good on that machine? I tried it. It’s waay too hard.” 

She was a bright-eyed, middle-aged blonde woman dressed in what looked like a brand new work-out outfit.  I thought to myself, Good? Hard? What are you talking about middle-aged blonde woman? 

I answered as modestly as I could, “Oh, I have been coming to a club for quite a long time — you just kinda get used to it.”

“Well, I just had a real hard time with pedaling.”

Ahhh, I thought. She doesn’t have a clue about this machine. And she’d had probably tried one where the resistance was pre-set for somebody like Lance Armstrong.

For a second, I toyed with keeping the secret and letting her continue to believe I was some kind of fierce athlete. But I didn’t. I told her about the pre-sets and encouraged her to try it out again and told her that she’d be easily whizzing along. But as I left, she demurred, “I still don’t think I’ll ever be as good as you.” 

I walked out of the club with a great mood and an imaginary swagger — just like Lance Armstrong.

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