Columbia Star

New Year’s Resolutions

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation



As the final years of the 1900s turned into the first days of the current century, I was living in Birmingham. One morning on my way to work, I dropped off some dry cleaning and decided to get a newspaper.

While reaching for a dropped quarter, I felt a pop and watched in horror as the button from my overstressed Dockers launched like a missile. Lucky for me, there were no innocent bystanders risking instant death. The speeding button bounced off brick rather than glass. No one lost an eye. I was lucky and immediately rebooted my eating and exercise habits.

I discovered a ragtag health club run by a guy named Ted. The facilities were spartan, but there were racquetball courts and shower facilities. Ted was a mellow Louisiana boy who ran a sensible gym and loved Sonny Landreth.

I played racquetball at Ted’s for several years and never had issues. The only time there were conflicts was right after each New Year started when the gym would be inundated by new, gung ho members, fueled by resolutions, trying to quickly and easily turn around the sedentary failure of a wasted life.

The initial workday after January 1 was always startling. Jump starting a work routine that had basically ground to a halt on Black Friday. Year after year, no matter my job description, an unofficial cease fire for work-related activities took place during the last six weeks of whatever year we were winding down.

Work activity dwindled as more and more people got deeply into the holiday spirit. There were always tasks available but little pressure. Anything could wait a while. After moving to a staff position, I encountered an even larger slowdown.

Everything there was generated by projects. As with government timelines, there was no such thing as urgency. Committee meetings, input from outside experts, and delays because some high level honcho needed to bless a particular idea all helped reduce this mechanism to a glacial pace.

The first New Year workout day was equally traumatic. A full parking lot followed by occupied weight machines were guaranteed. You could get trampled trying to maneuver from racquetball courts to the showers. Luckily for the regulars, there was little increase in racquetball interest. Maybe that’s why I stayed.

Before February arrived, things were back to normal. Great for the customers but obviously not for Ted. This place remained the best health club I’ve ever frequented until one Monday when clients arrived and found no sign of life inside. Ted had followed the MO of struggling local restaurants and shady establishments everywhere and just disappeared— no warning, no explanation, no problems. It made me feel different about those crowded January days.

Funny thing about resolutions— they rarely work, yet we keep trying, thinking this time will be different. Same reason we reelect the same bozos and remarry exes.

This trip down Memory Lane is brought to you by the Landlord. She came home griping about the local YMCA last week. Her serene yoga class was disrupted by hordes of unfeeling people who show up each January and then disappear before the Super Bowl.

Just like last year.

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