There are so many ways to be creepy and awkward in a gym – heck that’s half the reason I love them so much – but there’s one particular situation that has me stymied of late. (Seriously, I’m embarrassed to admit how much existential angst this caused me yesterday). The problem is this:

The double drinking fountain.

After a sweaty workout I like to sidle up to a nice (warm – why are they always warm?) water bar but inevitably there’s a line. My gym, like many, has double drinking fountains: one side for humans, the other for elves. (The short side can’t be for children since they don’t allow children on the exercise floor…).

Normally I’ll just hang out and mess with the velcro on my weight gloves while I’m waiting but yesterday I was in a hurry. There was one gentleman drinking out of the short side (why? getting extra quad work from the deep knee bend?) and I figured hey, there are two fountains for a reason, right? So I moseyed up to the tall one and started drinking.

As soon as I bent over I realized how awkward this was as we were now basically cheek-to-cheek (on both ends) but I didn’t want to jump back like the fountains were run with an electrical current lest he feel bad. But I also didn’t want to keep invading his personal space either. So I just stayed awkwardly hunched, trying to angle myself away from him. I think he thought we were having a territory dispute so he didn’t leave either. Eventually, after both of us drank enough water to pee like elephants for the rest of the day, he finally left. I filled up my water bottle and left myself. (And then left the lid on the fountain, sigh.)

So, here’s my gym etiquette dilemma: If you wait in line for a double fountain, have you reserved the right to both sides even if you only have one set of lips? What if the second person only wants to fill up their water bottle? Who is the short side for? And am I allowed to trip anyone who hawks a loogie into the fountain??

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  1. The shorter fountain is to accomodate people in wheelchairs.

  2. What irks me is that when both fountains are used it lowers the water pressure and I don’t like getting my lips too close to the spout. I’ve seen some nasty things happening to public water fountains. So if I’m there first, I get a little annoyed when someone walks up to drink because now it’ll take twice as long to get enough water.

  3. Asha is right – it is handicap accessible – mandated by building code – we should only use one at a time, but one is for the able-bodied and the other is for wheelchair access

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