For the past year and a half, I’ve woken up at 4:35 AM one day a week. On these early mornings, I pull on some black workout pants in the dark and drive to the Wisconsin Athletic Club. As I stand behind the front desk, I say the smiley-est, bright-eyed “good morning” I can muster at 5:58 AM to the first member walking through the automatic doors. While I ask if she has a locker preference, I’m wondering how tired I look, if my name tag is on right-side up and how disheveled my hair is after that sprint across the parking lot.
My responsibilities are simple: fold towels, check in members, hand out locker keys, clean women’s locker room, make coffee. As employees, we are supposed to ask each member “Do you have a locker preference?” and use their name when they check in and check out. I’ve taken my responsibilities pretty seriously. I hate standing around with no towels to fold. I recognized how pleased people were when I actually remembered their name and/or their locker number, so I took this as a challenge of my memory. And with a six day hiatus between shifts, this is no easy task.
Like clockwork, the “regulars” arrive and request their preferred locker. There are people who want the same exact locker every day and those that never care. There are people who are always smiling and those who barely have their eyes opened. There are people who make small talk and the people that are talking on their phones. There are people who are rushing to get through their workout and those who are leisurely looking at the paper or getting coffee.
I start my shift with the intention of making peoples’ days a little bit brighter or putting a smile on their face. I end my shift, realizing that the members were the ones making me smile. On my worst hair days, a member is bound to say “Ali, your hair looks so shiny today.” And on my sleepy days, another member will say, “You’re such a morning person. Wish I was too!” So even if the coffee overflows, or I give a female a key in the men’s locker room, or I accidentally say “Have a good day, Scott” to a man actually named Adam, I always enjoy my time there.
Find something you love to do for a few hours every week. When you’re doing that something, commit to being patient, flexible, and tolerant with anything that comes your way. If you become too tired or stressed or overwhelmed with your hobby, then stop doing it. Soon enough, you will find another intriguing pursuit to focus your energy on, for an uncertain length of time.