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  • Alan Martin

A Changing Room Stand Off

So, I went round to my old flat for the last time today (or whenever I post this, given the new place is currently without internet access) to do a check-out and inventory check. While we were there, we decided to get a final use of the residents’ swimming pool (told you it was out of our league) while we waited.

The changing rooms there are open – there’s no lockers, just a bench, a closed shower and a mercifully closed toilet. This isn’t really a problem, as the pool is seldom used by the residents. On this occasion though, there was another gentleman in there who’d just completed his work out in the gym.

Contrary to popular belief, I’m not one for whipping it out* in front of complete strangers, unless they’re qualified medical professionals. And even then, only if they ask. So I very slowly began to undress for the swimming pool, waiting for my new friend to step off into the shower. I was delicately undoing each button slowly and carefully, and even folding my socks neatly and burying them far deeper in my shoes than anyone has ever done before. Yet still the man dithered, standing there, studying his phone with a towel wrapped around his waist.

It was about that moment that I realised we were in a time-wasting race. Me because I’m not a massive fan of indecent exposure, and him because the phone he was using was a fancy iPhone 4. I suddenly realised that he didn’t trust me, who had only entered his life 2 minutes earlier, alone with his brand new mobile phone.

He must have realised we were having a tense stand-off at much the same time, because when I next looked up with literally no more time wasting options available (unless I developed a sudden and unprecedented interest in the workmanship of locker room benches) he had turned his back to me, giving me the ideal opportunity to switch my boxers for swimming shorts.

I went about my final swim. Shortly afterwards, while I was doing lengths of the pool (3/20 for anyone keeping track), another chap entered the pool area. He looked like a cross between Hesten Bloomenthal and former Home Secretary John Reid, if you want to put yourself in the scene. He wandered into the changing rooms as the other chap was presumably now showering.

It occurred to me that if Hesten Reid stole his iPhone, then ran away I’d be the prime suspect. I’d be no good picking the guy out of an identity parade either – what if both Hesten and Lord Reid were in the line-up?

Fortunately, he didn’t. He changed and joined me in the pool. Shortly afterwards, Person 1 emerged triumphant from his shower and left the premises. And we all lived happily ever after.

Well, actually, let’s wait and see how much of my deposit I get back before we sign off on that.

* There were so many potential ways of putting this charming sentiment. Be glad I settled on that one.

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Note: This post originally appeared on The Inquirer, which heartbreakingly closed in December 2019, losing a huge amount of my best work in the process. Given it's all been scrubbed from the internet