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Where I find myself a new hero for a day

May 12, 2011

This weekend is going to be a crazy weekend for me, work-wise. We have a series of applications that are being upgraded in our production environment, and while all appears to be working properly, there are a lot of loose ends to make sure are tied.

Because of this, I’m spending a lot of time working late nights with my team in Manila.

Because of those late nights, I have no issues taking a two hour lunch here & there this week.

Yesterday’s lunch changed my life.

I went to the gym & worked out. I belong to the local Planet Fitness and I was quite pleased with my workout – the 30 minute circuit followed by 20 minutes of elliptical. I was a sweaty mess, but, well, I enjoy being a sweaty mess.

I should note that there is a woman who frequents the gym on the same schedule as me. She shows up with her hair perfect, makeup done, super-tight top showing off her factory-installed assets, sometimes wears pantyhose under her booty shorts. In short, she reminds me of someone who might work out at Shell’s Gym. She has a great body, but I get the feeling like I should be tipping her dollar bills.

Anyway, Following the workout, I showered, sat in the massage chair, and tried to figure out lunch. I ended up at a local grocery store, “being good” by visiting the salad bar (since I don’t eat meat, this actually is a pretty good option for me, I probably put too many croutons and too much dressing, but the vast majority of the salad I make for myself is comprised of a wide assortment of vegetables). As I got there, there was a mother of two shopping.

Much like the Shell’s Gym patron, she was impeccable. She was a cute blond, wearing a white top that showed off just a hint of cleavage (not that I’d ever notice such things) and jeans that hugged her curves. Not a hair was out of place. Her kids (I’d guess 3 & 5) would act up every now & then, but she’d give a quick “please don’t do that” & they’d behave. She had a constant smile that did not appear forced in the least. She made grocery shopping with two little ones seem, not only effortless, but enjoyable.

In short, she made me feel like a failure as a parent. I mean, I was there, tweeting away, trying to talk myself out of buying half the chip aisle, and barely not bumping into displays. And I didn’t have my kids. When I take my kids to the grocery store, the person responsible for aisle clean-ups just follows behind me, awaiting the inevitable.

As it happens, this super-mom and I checked out at about the same time. And she walks, with two kids in a race-car cart, faster than me. In fact, she’s out-pacing me by a good clip. This surprised the hell out of me because I’m really tall. I have really long legs, and I walk pretty fast when I’m by myself1, and she just sped on by.

It turns out that I parked right next to her car. She got her groceries into the seat and kids into their carseats in seconds (I’d be dealing with keeping CJ from running into traffic & trying to fold Leila in half so that I can actually get her into the car seat, if I were in her shoes). I get into my car, shake my salad2 and look over at this woman who has me in awe.

I look at her reach over to the passenger seat & pull out a huge chocolate doughnut. I watch her break off small bites, pass them to the two children in the back of the minivan, and then I watch her eat the rest of it in two bites.

While chocolate wouldn’t have been my doughnut flavor of choice, this woman is completely my hero.

Suddenly, I was able to put myself into her shoes, or at least, my impression of her shoes. I start thinking about “if I can just make it through bathtime, I’ll have a beer.” I start thinking of all of the times “if I can run to the top of this hill, things will be easy.” And now, “If I can make it through this trip to the grocery store without cracking, I’ll eat a doughnut.”

This anonymous woman, for a day, was my absolute hero.

1 Friends will tell you that I walk pretty fast when I’m with them, too, but that’s only because they really haven’t seem me walking when I’m all by my lonesome & I have somewhere to be.

2 I’m convinced there is no way to successfully put a salad together without making the end of the salad eating boring . . . so if my salad is in a container that I will allow me, I’ll put dressing on & shake until my arms want to fall off to try to make the last bite as interesting as the first.

  1. Ha! See, it’s not just my gym. 😉

    I probably would have been wondering if that woman in the store had drugged her kids to make them be so good.

    • Oh, I was wondering if the kids were drugged, or if there was some very traumatic known-consequence later. That latter part freaks me out, though, so I choose not to think about it.

      Both gyms that I work out at (the Y for the pool, and Planet Fitness for my lunchtime dealings) have signs posted saying “no jeans,” I’ve been meaning to take pictures & @ you as I enter, but anytime I pull the phone out to take a pic, I fear somebody will think I’m trying to ninja-cam them.

  2. I save the good stuff to the end (like say, the avocado) because otherwise I know I won’t eat it all and then I’ll just want a donut later. By it I mean the salad. Of course.

    Oh God, I’m babbling.

    • Mmmmmm, avocado. I try to keep the “good stuff” to the end as well, but then I can’t get motivated to eat the beginnings of the salad. And I like salad, but it’s nothing compared to a cheese curl, or a doughnut.

      And babbling is appreciated on this here blog.

  3. I want to be your hero 😉

    • One must ask – do you want to be my hero because it’d be awesome to be my hero . . . or for the doughnut?

      And, I think you already know you’re my hero.

    • One must ask do you want to be my hero because itd be awesome to be my hero . . . or for the doughnut?

      And, I think you already know youre my hero.

  4. That’s funny, with all of your tweets, I wonder how the hell you do everything you do. Run a marathon? Are you kidding? I gots shit to do. And my family. I feel like I have to pick exercise or watch Glee with my kids to have “quality time.”

    You can be my hero.

    • I’m seriously one of those people that, if I stop moving, everything just kind-of stops around me. So, I just keep doing and doing and doing. That said, my kids are still of an age where Glee is meaningless to them. Well, the toddler claps after the songs if I catch up via DVR, but that’s about it.

      Almost all of my exercising is done before 6am or over lunch . . . Mondays & Thursdays are a combination of great & horrible, as I’m out the door before anybody else is awake, and I’m home after the kids are asleep. And, if I don’t work out, it’s those two days that I don’t (I start work at 6am on Mondays and then have symphony practice – on Thursdays I have band practice after work).

  5. I love pretty much everything about this post.

    All of it.

  6. Parents who bribe with donuts? My heroes.

    Whatever gets you through the grocery store. That’s my motto.

    PS I was friends with a girl who was 6 inches taller than I [yes, I’m admittedly short, but she was also pretty tall] and due to years of walking with her, people were always amazed at how quickly I’d walk when I was with them. Evidently my stubby legs fooled them.

    • My wife, I think, hates me whenever I start walking “with a mission”. I’ve got about a foot & a half on her to begin with, and I always had to walk incredibly fast to keep up with others as a kid.

      I remember my senior year of high school, we were allowed “open lunch.” However, we weren’t allowed to drive anywhere . . . and there weren’t any restaurants very close to the high school. So, my friends and I would work our way to the closest pizza place, have lunch, and then hurry our way back. To make it on time, they’d have me walk at “Batzer speed” and keep up . . . anything else would mean that we’d be late and then have to worm our way out of a Saturday detention.

  7. One day? I want to be somebody’s hero in the grocery store. I will never be somebody’s hero at the gym. Ever.

    • I make myself work out. A lot. But, every time I read that somebody has been to the gym, or is trying to make themselves more healthy, they’re my hero.

  8. I think I need to find my “chocolate donut.”

    Very, very sweet.

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