Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fair Use

I've been living in my new Manhattan apartment for a little over three months now, and I'm starting to adjust to the new surroundings.

The doormen finally know who I am, even with all the long work hours and traveling that meant they often weren't sure I even lived in the building.

I'm also getting used to the workout room here. I won't go so far as to call it a gym, because it's literally a studio apartment on the second floor that's been converted. It doesn't have much in the way of equipment, just a large rack of free weights, two treadmills, and two elliptical machines. Certainly adequate, although I miss UChicago's Ratner center (my workout room also doesn't have the first ever awarded Heisman trophy).

Anyway, one of the nicer touches our workout room does have is a big office-cliche style water cooler. A giant jug of refrigerated spring water, complete with the rack of little cone cups that you can't set down on anything so you'd better drink your water all at once.

It's definitely nice to have, although many times I'll go to work out and find it empty. Not only does it leave me a little thirsty, but it also made me wonder, who was drinking all this water?

I've used the facility on all types of days at all different hours, and I very rarely see anyone else there. Moreover, I very rarely see anyone who IS there actually take some water.

So where is it all going? This morning I got a clue as to the answer.

As I was finishing up my workout, the door to the workout room opened (it's locked, and each resident who requests a key can get their own).

I was stretching, so the first thing I noticed were this man's feet. They had shoes on, but they were flashy stylish casual sneakers. They didn't seem to be workout shoes. He was also wearing jeans. Again, not part of your typical workout outfit, and clearly not endorsed as suitable attire by any licensed professional trainer.

He walked into the workout room and turned immediately to his right, focusing his attention on the water cooler, and in a very matter of fact way, placed two large empty plastic bottles on top of the cooler.

He then took the first bottle, placed it under the water cooler spigot, and began to fill it.

I looked on, horrified as he calmly siphoned off water intended for those in a much sweatier and wearier condition.

The bottle filled, and he brought it up to his eye level, where he examined it like a chemist checks a graduated cylinder for precision. Unsatisfied, he filled it up a little more. Once complete, he repeated the process with the remaining empty bottle, as I stood there, waiting for my now meager by comparison cone cup.

He left, now burdened with the extra weight of two full bottles of water, and as I drank my own I felt a bitter taste of complete irrational indignation.
From my perspective, this water belonged to ME...and to every other tenant who needs water after a workout. Now, I haven't seen this gentleman's apartment, so maybe he doesn't have running water, a refrigerator, or a BRITA. Of course, maybe he just doesn't have any decency.

Who steals water from the gym? And what should I do to combat this problem?

Poison the water! That was my first idea. I dismissed it as slightly problematic, after all, where does one even buy poison?

My second idea was just to quit my job and sit in the gym, all day, every day, patiently waiting for this or another similar bottle-filler to come in. I would pretend to be going about my workout, then when they fill their water bottles and turn to leave, I would snatch the bottles and run away, re-distributing the water to thirsty looking people like a modern-day Robin Hood. Only no tights.

There was also brief thought of rational discussion with the water stealer, but that ultimately was also dismissed as impractical. Settling disputes face to face isn't what we're supposed to do, we supposed to just privately complain, that's what the internet is for!

I also gave some thought to whether I might be wrong in this situation. The water is available for residents of the building. And while it may be intended specifically for those who use the workout room, is it right that anyone should be able to use it as they see fit? Perhaps...

Although if that is the case, I've always wanted to wash my car in clean and refrigerated spring water...