"I Have Fungus Growing In My Lungs"

The gym is a fairly solitary place for me. There are always lots of other people around, and most of them seem to know each other and spend a lot of time chatting in the locker room or while taking turns on the weight machines. I, on the other hand, rarely talk to anybody, so I'm mostly left with my own thoughts.

This morning, my thoughts were mostly gripes. I had just finished my daily 500-meter swim--not a long distance for a real swimmer, but it wipes me out--and I was melodramatically questioning whether I had enough strength left in my arms to lift them to wash my hair. I was also thinking about how my rubber flip-flops had rubbed off a bit of skin on my big toe and how annoying that was, feeling sorry for myself that my new diet has meant that I haven't had a satisfying lunch all week, and obsessing about that expensive camera that I may never be able to afford. And, just to round it out, I remembered how annoyed I was that my self-winding watch stops in the middle of every night, and how much it bugs me that I get so much static I get when I try to use an FM transmitter with my iPod in the car.

So there I was, griping, griping, griping to myself, and I was just headed into the shower when I overheard two of the locker room attendants talking to each other. "I have fungus growing in my lungs," one of them said. "I'm going to die. I smoked so much, I guarantee in a year I'll be dead." He looked like he was in his mid-twenties.

Now, I don't know what the real story here is. Maybe the guy was just being a hypochondriac. Maybe he wasn't talking about himself at all, and was retelling a story about something he heard someone else said. I didn't ask--it felt rude enough that I had eavesdropped in the first place.

Afterwards, as I was getting dressed, I noticed that I had left my street shoes at home, and I would have to wear my ugly, uncomfortable gym shoes to work. But it just didn't seem important enough to care about right then.