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Great Neck Notebook: April 4, 2012

Human Nature

As a writer, I spend a lot of time observing how people act. I can tell you without fear of contradiction, that all of us are creatures of habit. Allow me to offer three examples.

In the small medical office building where my dentist plies his trade, I got on the elevator to return to the lobby after my appointment was over.  There was a middle-aged woman already in the elevator.  She was also going down to the lobby and had pushed that button on the elevator display.  I could tell she had pushed it because it was already lit.

Knowing all that, I pushed the button again. Pushing the button wasn’t going to get us to the lobby any more surely or any faster.  The woman and I exchanged a mutual look of understanding. “I couldn’t help myself, ” I admitted. She nodded and smiled sympathetically.

The next morning I was in the gym on a treadmill trying to burn off the residue of calories from the previous night’s dessert. A lady a little younger than myself got on the treadmill next to mine. Before she started the machine, she took a wet-wipe and carefully cleaned the grips on both sides, the display panel that shows you the distance, time, and calories expended, and then for good measure cleaned the mini-television monitor that each machine has.

As sole witness to her dedication to cleanliness, I felt compelled to comment. “Do you make house calls?” She smiled but made no reply.  Within a few moments, we were both concentrating on working up a good sweat.

For those patrons of the gym who arrive at the ungodly hour before 7 a.m., there is an elderly gentleman who sits at a little desk in the hallway as a token of building security. Like most of the gym early birds, I always make a point of saying, “Good Morning,” to him. And he always replies in kind.

The other day, I decided to add something extra. So, I asked, “How are you today?” Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied, “Too early to tell.” Sometimes you find wisdom in the most unexpected places.