Long ago, I used to work as an admin for a community newspaper mostly owned by a longtime alderman. This was pretty much my first job (not counting a two-week stint at a retirement home when I was 17 that mostly just served to instill a deep fear of aging in me.) When I started, there was a staff of three others: the managing editor, Jim; Karen, the office manager/bookkeeper; and Sharon, a salesperson.
At the risk of sounding mean, Sharon was not what one would call attractive in any respect. She was short, stubby, and reminded me a lot of those troll dolls, albeit an albino one. Her appearance was an unfortunate combination with her personality, which was sort of cheerfully aggressive, manifesting in non-recognition of personal space, painful side-hugging, literal cornering to talk, but she seemed to have no understanding that she was so grating. Basically she was a short female version of Mongo crossed with a used car salesman. Worst of all was her laugh. It was a lot like Beavis', but more of a rat-a-tat-tat, and I heard a lot of it because her long, boring stories were frequently punctuated with her laugh, and always began with "you won't believe this." As in: "You won't believe this. I went to go see Orv's Pizza. snort. heh heh. heh. And, get this, he pretended he didn't see me. heh. heh heh. snort. He locked the door while I was standing right there. heh." Anyway, one day her you-won't-believe-this story was eminently believeable. She regaled me with the tale of lonely weightlifting at the Y. "Erica. You won't believe this. I went to the gym at the Y over lunch. heh. And I went over to the free weights. heh heh. snort. But. snort. No one would spot me. heh heh. heh. snort. No one ever spots me. Not even if I ask. snort. They all spot each other. heh heh. But I try to talk to them. heh. And they just walk away." I was 18, 19. I didn't need to go to the gym then, so I didn't completely comprehend then how difficult it would be in a gym environment to not notice someone needing a spot, much less ignoring someone asking you to spot them. But I did get that the story, no matter how cheerfully-in-a-sad-clown-way it was told, was profoundly depressing. Let's face it: if Sharon had had the same personality in a prettier package, the situation would have been very different.
Today, I saw an average-looking lady at the gym. Mid-30s, frumpy gym clothes, stringy ponytail. Me, more or less. And as I was on the back extension machine and watching the Cubs game, I saw her look forlornly at the free weights, touch them, walk around them. She sat down, leaned back, looked around, sat up, looked around, stood up. So I asked, "Need a spot?" She smiled and said, "Ohgodyes...thanks. I was afraid I would crush my own throat." She did a few chest presses, we shared a laugh and rolleyes at a meathead grunting/farting his way through a set of squats, and we went our separate sweaty ways.
I do not want any social interaction at the gym. Really, I don't. I'm just there to hate my way through a lunch hour, you know? All the fucking spiky-haired dbags who bob their empty heads like chickens at the oonst oonst oonst music that's playing, all the impossibly tiny post-teens in full makeup and coiffed hair daintily traipsing on the treadmill, all the hypertanned Lincolnwood moms aspiring to be Lake Forest moms who yak on their cells as they perch on whatever machine it is I would like to be using...my loathing for them fuels me through 40 minutes of hateful exercise. I hadn't even noticed all the normal, average people that are there hating them alongside me until today. It makes me feel good to know that I am not alone in my impotent dislike, and I have Chest Press Lady to thank for that. Thank you, Chest Press Lady.