Wednesday, November 29, 2006

One of Life's Great Mysteries

Observe the below phenomenon that takes place in gyms across the country every day:

See the red boxes in my handy diagram that I drew up? Out of a possible 48 lockers in my hypothetical gym locker room, nine are occupied, but more importantly, they're all clustered in little groups right next to each other! Why is that there could be three people in a 24,000 square foot gym, but in the locker room, all three people have lockers next to each other? Case in point: the other night I was at the 76th street Equinox at the very non-peak hour of 9PM. The gym must have housed all of about 20 people in all three stories that night at that hour. So you would think the locker room would be wide open space to lay out all your crap. But nooooooo. I inevitably find my locker sandwiched between two other guys and we're all vying for a foot of bench space and reaching over and around each other like kids in a heavy metal concert melee.

And you can imagine the situations that might arise. AWKWARD! Picture me sitting down and tying my left shoe, and then sensing a looming presence above me. I make the mistake of looking up and staring straight into the aged and wrinkly ass of some fat, naked guy. As it hovers above me, I'm screaming in my head, "Why aren't you moving????"

Of course that's probably *the* most awkward situation that would arise from this strange crowding phenomenon. Other, more tame, situations are guys just waiting impatiently for you to move out of the way; being able to open your locker door only 1/3 of the way because the other guy's locker is blocking it; or accidently swinging your back into the cute guy's head who happened to be sitting right behind you as you gathered all your things. But still, why on earth do we crowd around one or two lockers, no matter if the gym is packed full like sardines or virtually empty like it was a breeding ground for smallpox? Since I have way too much time on my hands (see above figure), I decided to hypothesize a bit:

We Emit Locker Crowding Phermones
Maybe the phermones that we ostensibly all emit are causing us to congregate around each other. If so, why can't my phermones match up with the hot sandy blond haired Skidmore shorts guy who I see at Columbus Circle Equinox a lot (my second crush after the cheese store guy)? Trade-in, please.

It's A Conspiracy
Every guy who walks into a locker room immediately goes on the hunt for the ultimate prize--the tall locker. Occasionally, he gets thwarted by those annoying dimwits who don't lock their lockers. Seriously, every time you open a locker, and there's stuff in it, you feel like someone's standing above you, saying "Gotcha!" The least these people could do is put their most valuable and interesting stuff right on top of their pile of clothes and other shit for easy access.

The tall lockers though, obviously, take up double the amount of space as the short lockers, and I assume they have some sort of regularity in their layout in a locker room, like every third locker will be a tall locker or something like that. But I'm just wondering whether this is all part of the gym's design to make us all a little too close for comfort.

Guys Just Like Each Other
I have no idea if this phenomenon happens in the girls' locker room. But if it doesn't, that would give some pretty hefty support for this hypothesis. Maybe our subconscious just commands us to pick a locker next to one that is already occupied, because we all just like getting along.

We're All Stupid
Sometimes I think I really overthink the objective of getting a locker not near anyone else. Every time I go inside a gym locker room, I try to carefully pick a locker that won't result in this problem. And so I pick a locker that actually is already next to a couple of occupied lockers, figuring that those people got to the gym before me and will hence also leave before me. But more often than not, that doesn't work, and I go back to selecting a locker in an uncrowded area of the locker room. Then I think, what if I'm thwarting the masters of the universe, and go back to my original plan. No, but wait, what if that's what they want me to think? As you can see, the debate goes on for a while.

So, as you can see, my critical analysis has come up with lots of plausible explanations for this great mystery. I don't know which to vote for as THE explanation. They're all just so reasonable sounding. Maybe I'll let my Magic 8 Ball decide for me.


Eric said...

I have to say, that you look up and see mr. wrinkly butt in your face is, I think, the reason people gravitate towards the other locked lockers. I have NEVER figured out why guys do what they do in the locker room except that they WANT you to see them.

Tom said...

I speculate that people prefer certain sections of the lockerroom and pick those sections even when less crowded areas exist. There may be further correlation that people who like the same section also arrive around the same time as one another. But then, I prefer the high-traffic corridor closest to the showers, to reduce the chance of someone breaking into my locker, but this is the favored area of those who comes to the gym exclusively for the sauna and steamroom. Hmm.

Anonymous said...

I've got your answer:

When you walk into a locker room, you tend to put your stuff where it's not crowded. Then, when you come back to change, lo and behold, everyone had the same idea!

So what WAS empty is now crowded. People just entering will congregate to an empty area, and when THEY'RE done the same thing happens.

TCho said...

Anon--well, that makes sense, but I'm thinking of the times when the gym is only about 25% full and there's *plenty* of empty space in the locker room...we still seem to congregate.

TCho said...

Tom--yeah, that makes sense too! Although, I've never care about where my locker is. I just want a tall locker. lol.

Kayo Kid said...

At my boxing gym we have assigned lockers, so you don't get to choose. Lucky for me, all the fat, wrinkly guys have lockers at the end of the room. Don't get me started, though, on men's hygiene habits in the locker room. More like barnyard.

Anono.Blogger said...

TCho, love the time and effort invested in figuring this one out.


TCho said...

Kayo--I wish I could box, but with my broken arm, I can't do that anymore. :-(. I took a couple of classes.

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