I took a longer run, and, for a little while, I finally got past the “needing to make an effort to keep going” feeling and into the “running for the sake of running” feeling. It’s been a while.

Of course, I won’t get any running in for almost a week, as I’ll be in Arizona and couldn’t seem to prioritize fitting my running shoes into my small captain’s bag. Maybe this will be a nice recuperative break that will enable me to be all the more devoted when I get back.

Or maybe Monday was the last time I’ll go for a run for another six months.

There’s only one way to find out.

One of the early-morning regulars at the gym drives a cab (I see it in the parking lot when I leave). Based entirely on stereotypes, I have decided that the driver is the intense-looking black man with the sharp, well-groomed haircut who always wears a matching set of a gold bracelet and chain. It’s not important what he drives, but that’s the guy who was sitting across from me in the leg-extension machine as I used the deltoid/fly machine. Which means he had a perfectly good view when I finished, stood up, sprayed down the machine with the provided bottle of cleanser, and wiped it all down with one of the provided little green towels. I had just walked around the row of machines and was adjusting the seat on the chest press to the proper height when I noticed the man preparing to use the deltoid/fly machine himself – by spraying it and wiping it down. Did he think I hadn’t done a good enough job? Or just that I was extra dirty? It’s possible that he actually hadn’t noticed my own cleaning of the machine, I guess, although I had done it only about six feet away from his face.

It’s possible that my technique didn’t look right. Whereas most people, after spraying, scrub at the surfaces of the machine like they’re going after mildew in a bathtub, I prefer to leave a light film of the cleanser showing. This is because, as far as I know, if it’s germs we’re supposed to be worried about, you don’t kill germs by just spraying and scrubbing. There’s this little thing called “kill time,” i.e., the “germ poison” needs to be left alone for a little while in order to have time to work. Of course, it never is left alone for very long, leading to my suspicion that the whole process is just a big charade that doesn’t achieve anything. Also, it’s always struck me as strange that the most devoted wipers often seem to use whatever rag happens to be hanging on the machine, meaning they’re cleaning using a rag that is limp and damp from repeated other “cleanings,” meaning that they’re probably just smearing ten different people’s sweat back and forth across the machine. (Because I’m better than everyone else in the world, I always take a fresh green rag from the bin by the front desk, carry it with me to clean each machine I use, and then dump it in the hamper on my way out.)

So maybe he saw the “light film” I’d left and thought it was sweat. (He wasn’t just wiping it off, though, remember – he resprayed, too.) Whatever. He’s lucky I clean the machines at all. I never used to, back when I was really just going through the motions on the weight machines and never trying particularly hard. It seemed stupid to me to clean a machine on which I hadn’t even broken a sweat.

But now that I’m fully engaged in a program of grotesque physical overdevelopment, it’s another story, of course.

I tried to refill A.’s Allegra prescription at the Safeway today, but of course I would have needed her insurance information to do this. I’ll just bring her the bottle on Tuesday and she can have this done in Flagstaff. Meanwhile, I’m probably lucky it was only Allegra I was after.

“My, um, wife, works in the, um, woods, and can’t get to a phone and I was wondering if I could get her a refill of this bottle of liquid morphine? My, I mean her, um, back is really killing her…”

There were no premade sandwiches so I waited in line at the Safeway deli sandwich counter. I know I seem to criticize everything, but there is something maddening about ordering a custom sandwich at this place. I guess it’s that the employees serving you are just meat-counter clerks, so they don’t have the mad sandwich-making skills that you’d find in a real deli, where they are making the sandwich as you’re calling out the ingredients. Instead, they go about the process so painstakingly and inefficiently that it’s like watching someone repair a clock. That’s why I just order one of the paninis, which are premade and sitting in a display case, although then I have to wait for them to grill it in the Cuban-style sandwich grill.

While I waited to place my order, two transvestites were talking in line ahead of me.

“Girl,” said one to the other. “I can’t believe this store don’t have no cosmetics aisle.”

It does, of course, but perhaps it just didn’t rise to the level of her standards. As a side note – and I don’t mean to malign these two – the Safeway sits close to a stretch of Calvert Street – through the semi-abandoned and/or crumbling rowhouses that are gradually giving way to the “Station North” neighborhood redevelopment – that seems to be the place to go if you would like to do business with a black, transvestite prostitute. This gradually dawned on me after many years of noticing “women” in tight clothes but with very broad shoulders hanging about on front stoops and corners there. Interestingly, they are often out during the morning rush hour, leading me to wonder exactly who their clients are. Business men on the their way to the office? But why wouldn’t these business men just go out looking for this kind of company in the evening? Unless – they have a wife and kids at home?

As Chuck says (in an entirely different context, I realize) it goes to show you never can tell.

During lunchtime, I drove downtown to one of the few remaining post offices in the city to mail out the free-flight vouchers for the late-August wedding/christening trip. Post offices take me right back to my childhood, when I used to accompany my father on such errands. My father, who has worked from home virtually my entire life, was my daytime caretaker during summer vacation and other school breaks and had an inordinate amount of business to transact at post offices and copy shops, and I always liked tagging along on these grownup-feeling missions. I was less of a fan of going grocery shopping, but then, the grocery store didn’t display posters of the FBI’s “most wanted” fugitives like the post office did. (Does the post office still do this? I haven’t noticed these lately, but, as we grow older, we do tend to forget to stop and smell the roses and otherwise enjoy the simple pleasures in life.) Nor was the grocery store typically plagued by Larouche followers sitting at card tables, their hand-lettered attempts at dramatic, eye-catching signage fluttering in the weak, hot wind off of the parking lot. Once my father and I were present for the rescue of an infant after its mother accidentally locked it and her keys in the car. I have a memory that a fireman decided there was no time to waste and simply broke a window, which seems sensible in retrospect (if it in fact really happened that way). Would you want to take the slightest risk of putting yourself in the position of saying, “yeah, my baby is brain damaged from heat stroke because I was thinking, ‘just one more minute and I should be able to snare the lock button with this coathanger.'”

But Monday’s trip to the post office was not so dramatic. In, 10 minutes in line, and out, clutching my return-receipt slip, hopeful that this whole free ticket thing might actually work out.

At work, for the last two workdays, I have been using Filemaker like an abacus. Which is to say, I needed the figures with which to fill in an Excel table with about 24 columns and about 50 rows, with each of these approximately 1,000 cells requiring that I perform a unique search action in my Filemaker database each time. Of course, if I knew more about Filemaker, I could just write a script that would automatically run the whole batch of actions and export it all to this same Excel spreadsheet.

Oh, well. I guess that’s why, in my job description, it says I’m a writer and editor, not a freaking Filemaker developer.

I’ll be glad to be done with this project.

In the evening, I gave away some plants and packed for Arizona.