I usually go to the gym sometime in the middle of the afternoon. The gym is a two-minute walk from my office so it's nice and convenient and I've found that mid afternoon is the best time to go because it isn't crowded and the chance of seeing any of my coworkers naked in the locker room is at its lowest and the most important thing to me in the entire world is that I never under any circumstances see any of my coworkers naked. Cross my heart, scout's honor, with liberty and justice for all, amen.

Recently the gym changed the lock devices on the lockers. They were this relatively simple battery-operated lock system but now, for reasons unknown to me, they decided to switch to something archaic and exceedingly stressful.

Basically you have to move all of these numbers around and then lock the thing and then scatter the numbers and theoretically if you put the numbers back in the position they were in before you locked it, it will unlock it. Theoretically.

I don't trust anything ever except for Paul Simon and anyone who has ever touched him so each time I use this newfangled device, I feel an excessive amount of stress. I always look like I'm trying to break into a safe to steal the Heart of the Ocean before rich people can enter the room.

Yesterday this did not go so well for me.

I used the locker. I changed into workout clothes. I put my stuff into the locker. I locked it. I worked out. I went back to the locker. I retrieved my towel. I placed my workout clothes in the locker. I locked it again. I went to the shower.

I took an appropriately-long shower and then returned to the locker wearing nothing other than the skimpy white towel provided by the gym.

And that's when it happened.

I turned the numbers to match the code I had selected, and I pulled. Nothing. Shut. Locked. No luck.

I verified the code and tried again.

Still no go.

Y'all. There I stood, in the skimpy white towel, locked out of my locker. And the panic set in.


I didn't know what to do. The locker room was empty. It was empty because I purposefully went at a time when it would be empty. I couldn't ask anyone for help there. But there was no way in H E double hockey sticks I was going to walk through the open gym, in my skimpy white towel, to ask for help.

My initial thought was to just wait. Surely eventually someone would come into the locker room and I could ask them to go get help. This was the equivalent of having car trouble in a quiet canyon before cell phones and waiting for another car to come by and either murder you or drive on to send back assistance.

But I had one problem. I needed to be in a meeting in about 15 minutes. And it was going to already take me nearly 15 minutes just to get changed, do my perfect hair that basically just already woke up like dis, and repeat 20 positive affirmations at myself into the mirror.

I didn't really have time to wait.

But y'all. I'm a problem solver. And I solved the problem by compromising the evils. I strutted to the edge of the locker room, I stuck the naked half of my body out into the open locker room, I looked around for people, and then I tried to get their attention.

Eli: Pssssst. Pssssssssssssssssssssssssst. Pssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssst.

It is impossible to have self esteem while simultaneously making that noise while half naked in a public place.

Woman: Are you trying to get my attention?

Eli: Yes. Well, not you in particular. Just someone. Anyone. I'm not targeting you. This isn't what you think. Oh, unless you think I'm harmless. In which case this is what you think. I should have asked you what you thought first. I've already made this more awkward than it had to be!

Woman: Ok?

Eli: The reason I was calling for you, OR JUST ANYONE ELSE, not that you're replaceable because I'm sure you're very wonderful, I need someone to go to the front desk and tell them I'm locked out of my locker.

The woman obliged, kindly, and a minute later a man found me at the entrance of the locker room. I led him to my locker and explained the problem.

Man: Are you sure this is your locker?


Man: You checked the others around it just to make sure?

Eli: I didn't need to. Because I'm VERY responsible and I remember where I put my things.

He opened it.

It was not my locker.

Someone else's clothes were in there.

My locker was the one next to it.

I did not tell him this.

I thanked him, with a smile, which I immediately wiped off of my face the moment he was out of sight.

I chose a random set of numbers and locked that locker back up. Then I retrieved my things and ran the H E double hockey sticks out of there.

I wish I knew the exact end of this story, but I'm certain it involved another man in a towel seeking help because he couldn't get back into his locker.

I regret nothing.

~It Just Gets Stranger