Keys to Surving Teen Night

Friday night is my time to go to the gym and work out. I have no work the next day and generally few obligations over the weekend. Friday is perfect for working out because it is typically quieter than any other night of the week and more of the machines are open.

In short, Friday night is my zen time at the gym.

All except that one Friday night a month where the entire building is inundated with overzealous mongrels know as, dare I say it, preteens.

Their parents happily dismiss them from there presence in a rather abrupt manner. Dad pulls the family mobile around the front door, comes to a rolling stop, while Mom shoves Junior out the door toward the building. The now childless parents barely stop to wave pleasantries and remind their child to behave before gunning it down the street to their night of freedom.

The preteens congregate in the lobby where they are checked in and start to form herds with their friends who have just been rolled out of their family mobiles. The herds move in large clusters down the hall, and unsuspecting adult members are forced to duck into wall crevices. Dare an adult try to go head on into a herd assuming they will show courtesy and make room on the side will likely be trampled. The preteens will hardly even notice the lump curled up on the ground as they continued their texting/mindless walking/path of destruction.

The adults will try and find sanctuary in areas where "Individuals under 18 are prohibited". They will find little solace as there are continual announcements over the PA, "Junior, please report to the front desk. This is your herd, we are planning a coup d'├ętat of the Judo class in session. Junior, please report to the front desk."

In order to take back my Friday night at the gym, I am proving my essential survival skills to make it through preteen night.
  1. Befriend the preteens. This may at first appear to be counter-intuitive, such as, if they know you, they are more likely to pester you. However, I volunteer at a youth organization and mentor many preteens. I garner a small amount of respect, and hold a secret weapon, their names. When I am trying to go through the herd gauntlet I shout out, "Hey Junior, how's it going?" And instantly he looks up from his texting and walks with me a bit to catch up, proving safe passage amongst his peers and reducing trampling risks.
  2. Avoidance. Take the back passages in the building when possible and find low traffic routes in and out of the adult areas.
  3. Travel in packs. Every other adult is in the same predicament. They understand the delicate nature of the situation. Under the circumstances, it is imperative to leave the locker room in groups no smaller than four. Find the scrappiest one in there and flank her until you reach safety.
  4. Work on your "mom voice" and "the look". Even if you have no children, borrow some to practice on. Two mothering techniques that have mystical powers and served women for centuries.
  5. Invest in a pair of headphones with some sound proofing. Ignore the pesky PA announcements. How likely is it anyway that an actual emergency or something you need to pay attention to is said anyways?
  6. Never show fear. The preteens can sense your weakness. No hesitation, no exceptions. The moment your hand trembles or your lip quakes, you are a goner.
While not an absolutely comprehensive listing, it is important to develop your own personal pre-teen night plan. This evening I was able to make it unscathed through the masses. Others were not as fortunate.

Remember, zen is worth it. You are worth it.

Even I will look on the bright side of the situation, I rather like knowing the preteens are at the gym and not out--I don't know-- toilet papering my yard or something. At least they are accounted for.

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