“Show don’t tell,” is the advice authors give and get on a regular basis. It’s not easy to do, but it’s easy to say. This morning I stumbled on a SHOW that TOLD me a great deal.
You meet all sorts of people in a locker room at a gym. Some are very nice. Others are not nice at all. Most of the time the women at my gym are, at the very least, polite if not always super friendly. I’ve had lovely conversations, seen photos of kids & puppies on phones and learned where to buy flip-flops in January on or near the bench right in front of the locker I rent.
Today, when I finished my workout, I found a young woman getting undressed and using the entire bench for her stuff. She barely looked up at me and, instead of moving her stuff to one side of the bench (or hanging her clothes up) she simply moved the bench closer to her and ignored me. No problem. She was obviously in a hurry and I can get undressed with out sitting down. I thought it was odd that she didn’t put her clothes away, but… to each her own.
Downstairs in the shower area, I was a little disappointed that the third shower stall was taken. It’s the one with the best water pressure. The door was closed and a towel hung outside it, but I noticed that there were no feet underneath. Odd! I surmised that the attendant was cleaning the stall and letting the water run and went into one of the less desirable showers. After my quick shower and a few minutes in the sauna, I saw the young woman dash from the steam room into the third shower stall. She’d been “reserving it” for her own use.
Setting aside the waste of water for a minute, I focused on the selfishness of her actions. She treated the bench like it was there to hold her clothes and kept me from using the best shower because she wanted it, but after her steam. As there were only a few women in the entire locker room, why did she feel the need to occupy so much space?
Part of me was furious. Part of me was fascinated.
I was upstairs before her and moved her stuff a few inches over so I could use a corner of the bench while I dressed. During this time, she appeared wrapped in towels and put on her underwear, taking some of her clothes and leaving her coat, sneakers, etc. where I was dressing. I guessed she was at the mirrors drying her hair and putting on make-up, but I was wrong. She’d moved to another part of the almost empty locker room and taken over another bench to finish dressing.
She obviously thought the entire locker room belonged to her alone. The attendant folding towels, the other women changing into or out of workout clothes weren’t really there. It was all about her.
By the time I was dressed and ready to leave, I decided that her actions were a perfect example of SHOW over TELL. No words, no matter how descriptive, could have communicated her self-centered approach to life more than her own actions. She was the human version of an animal marking its territory.
What a character study!