Nearly every workday, a group of us walk around getting a brief walk in during the morning.
With the temperatures starting at 95* by 6 am and quickly climbing past 100+ by 10 am, you can imagine these walks are becoming increasingly difficult.
It appears that our walks have not gone unnoticed, as we walk through the NEW mental health parking lot. Instead of harassing us for walking through their private lot, they were actually very cool and the Director said that they think that it’s really cool that we walk and are staying fit!
Also, we have a brand new exercise room that you guys can use! Come in during lunchtime, when we don’t have scheduled appointments and you’re welcome.
Eventually, we work up the courage (and the sweat) to investigate this new “exercise room”. The Director told us to speak to Mr.…. (I don’t remember his name, but he was a nice guy, dressed relaxed and was tall).
Mr. Tall takes meets us at the front door, escorts us back into the inner workings, uses his ID badge to get us into the exercise room.
WOW! Nice big room! Limited equipment but it really is new and good stuff too. Apparently this is the area for group session activity. They have a volleyball set, small basketball hoop, table tennis, etc. Think recreational rehab.
He reconfirms it. YEP! Come in any day. During lunch they never schedule appointments. He uses his ID badge to get us out and shows us where his office is and that anyone can get us into and out. No need to call ahead, someone is always here. He shows us around, we drool on all the cool, new stuff they have.
How perfect! I can come here and bang out a quick set of weights during lunch and then my evenings are FREE! Perfect.
Friday, I head over.
Hmm…I still don’t remember Mr. Tall’s name but I found an open door into the building. Now all I have to do is find his office.
Now I’m wandering up and down the halls looking for his office. Did I mention that I am in a Mental hospital??! I am sure that everyone is looking at me. Am I ‘supposed’ to be here? Am I crazy? Is he one of them or is he one of us?
Whew! Found his office!
Hmm...No one is there. Maybe because it’s Friday or maybe because it’s lunchtime. Oh, look here comes some body. She’s about to unlock the office door and go in.
I stop her and plead my case.
“Hi! I work across the street”. (Blank stare)…
“I was told I could use your workout room” (she’s fidgeting with her keys, trying to get the office door open)….
This is going downhill. Quick pull rank!
“You director said it was ok. Last time I spoke to ….” Crap! I don’t remember his name!!
“Umm...I actually don’t remember his name; he was a guy about this tall…”
GREAT! I am going to get ‘escorted’ out of here! I’ll disgrace my company and myself! GREAT!
Surprisingly, there is a twinkle in her eye. “Oh, you mean Larry?”
Larry? No, well, maybe. SURE!
“Yeah, Larry. Larry said that we could use the room. Larry (extra emphasis) said we could come in during lunchtime”.
“Sure, no problem. We have a group coming in at 1, you can use the room until then. Here I’ll take you back”.
Sweet! Honestly I don’t know how this worked for me. Like an idiot, I forgot my name badge. I don’t know who I am looking for and its ‘casual Friday’, so I look ‘casual’. Talk about trusting!
She escorts me back, uses her ID badge to get me into the room and tells me that I can work out until the group comes, by then Larry should be here and he can let me out.
She leaves me in the big auditorium by myself. There is no one here and I get a little alone time with the new equipment. I quickly establish a circuit and get too it!
About midway in, a gentleman walks in (with a name badge). He’s relaxed and non-fazed by me.
I nervously attempt to explain that I was told I could work out here. He waves it off and says it’s fine. The group isn’t here yet and they won’t be for a little while still.
He goes about getting everything ready and wanders in and out of the nearby open door that goes out into the courtyard.
Apparently this is Larry. This is NOT Mr. Tall!
2/3 the way done and I hear a commotion. The group is starting to arrive! Some of the people are loud and seems like this is old hat for them. They are telling stories about their day (loudly), others look like they’re on lithium right now! Sullen, sunken eyes.
I’m in the middle of 'girl interrupted'.
'Larry' is greeting everyone and gets to setting everyone up. He's busy. I'll find someone else to let me out. I quietly make my exit into the courtyard.
The courtyard is a nice open air courtyard about the size of a small park, surrounded on all sides by the building.
Wait! Surrounded.on.ALL.sides. hmmm…ALL sides!
I walk over to a door and see the signs. “Warning! Extreme flight risk, ensure that doors are secure!” “Warning, this door exits out to unsecure area, doors must be closed”"You are leaving a secure area, check to make sure doors are closed”.
Secure! Flight risk!
I try the doors. Yep! Locked! I give a gentle push. Nope! Still locked. And that ‘gentle’ push, made a rattle and I am getting looks.
OK, no biggie, just walk around act casual. You’ll find somebody who knows you. Blend in.
There is no 'blend in'. I'm in a mental hospital. I'm either staff or patient.
Right now I'm not doing a very good job of looking like a staff.
I'm walking up to every door. Giving it a quick (nonchalant) push. Nope! Everything locked.
Psst! Nonchalant doesn't work here. All it's doing is making me look suspisious.
OK. Um...no. No staff that I can recognize. Oh look there is a custodian. Maybe he can let me out.
Smooooth! Damn it! Where did that whiny voice come from?! I need to sound confident not weak.
Crap! This isn't working. Explain your story:
Did I just say 'I don't belong here'?
"Can you let me out"
Not surpisingly, he looks away, trying to disengage. He shakes his head and turns away. Clearly, we are DONE!
I can just imagine him going over to the alarm. Woop! We got a loose cannon! Woop! Get the Tranquerlizer gun!
Crap! OK. Keep looking around. Find SOMEBODY!
Look! The woman who let you in. She's there in her office. She has people in there and she's clearly busy working. So busy that she doesn't notice me standing outside her office. Staring at her like a lost dog.
Now I either interupt her and look like an idiot or I wander around some more.
Knock, knock. I have no choice but to knock on the window.
Utterly defeated, I have to resort to interupting her and her business.
I NEED OUT!
At the door, she teases "Are you sure you don't belong here? I'm not sure that I'm going to let you out."
HA HA! Quick, just laugh (but not too much). Pretend that everything is OK.
Almost to the door. There is no alarm yet but I don't breath until I'm out the front door.
Freedom never felt so good!