Timing is Everything
So, on Friday afternoon at a quarter past six, I headed down to the locker room and changed into my gym clothes. It had been a long, tiring week of humid days interspersed with storms, and I looked forward to capping it with a three mile run. I waved my ID badge at the door, disengaging the lock, and entered the gym.
Something was amiss as I entered. All was dark, save for sunlight streaming through the blinds and the glowing red displays on the treadmills. I wondered about a power outage as I filled a cup with water and prepared to exercise in the oddly deserted gym. It wasn’t until I noticed the office door was locked, the interior dark and devoid of any gym workers, that I started to wonder if they had closed early for some reason. I know in the Summer they usually close around seven, and I hoped that diminished attendance of late hadn’t resulted in an earlier closing. The night settings on the door would have been engaged though, and my key card should not have worked. But, after some looking around, I saw a sign on the wall with the new hours posted, and the gym does indeed close at six on Fridays. I quickly got out of there, realizing I was somewhere I shouldn’t be, by about twenty minutes.
Timing is a funny thing. We look back on events, on accidents, missed trains and other occurrences, and wonder about the events leading up to them. What if we took longer doing something, or took less time? How could our day have had a different outcome? On Thursday, for example, I got to the gym a little sooner, because I was giving a coworker with car trouble a ride that day. Close to retirement, with a wife at home recovering from surgery, he was less inclined to work late and had gone to the gym well before five. Old habits die hard, and had he not come back up at 5:30 to remind me, I likely would still have been sitting in front of a computer.
I finished my workout earlier than I normally would, and when we were almost home a torrential downpour hit. Traffic came to a standstill, and I thought if I had left earlier I could have avoided it. When things calmed down a few minutes later and travel resumed, there were some fairly large downed trees that I would have been under if we hadn’t left as late as we did.
The extra time did allow for an anecdote I’d never heard about a couple of my dad’s mechanic friends. One has since passed away while the other is still in business, and it turns out that my coworker knew both of them. He told me about one Christmas when one of the guys asked his mother what she would like. She asked for a lobster dinner, and though he wasn’t sure if she was serious, treated the request as though she were. So he and the other mechanic headed down to the shore where he donned scuba gear, tied a rope to himself, and jumped off a boat while his buddy held the line.
In the murky depths of the Long Island Sound, there’s not much to see. His eyes registered movement and he reached forward. The water didn’t strike him as all that cold, relative to the fact that it was Winter, but it was cold enough. He reached forward, but it was the last thing he remembered before blacking out. Up top, the rope went slack, so his friend hauled him in. It may have been a foolish undertaking, but at least they had the sense to include that one crucial precaution. And, when he regained consciousness, he discovered that not one, but two lobsters had clamped on to his suit. It was like his friend went fishing and he was the bait, and his mom had her lobster dinner.
I’m not sure how embellished the tale was; it was relayed to me by a writer and notorious storyteller. My dad had never heard it, but if true it’s cool that I had the time to find out something about one of his friends. The next time he sees the one that’s still alive, he’ll have to ask him if he really did that, only to be pulled from the depths in the nick of time. In the end, timing is everything.