How ridiculous people help us love the annoying ones

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Usually, I have the gym sauna all to myself. But not always.

There was the woman last month sprawled on her back across the lower bench. After 15 minutes and no movement, I assumed she was dead, but it turned out she was only taking a 175-degree nap. Then there was the blonde from a few weeks back. She walked in and out again in roughly 48 seconds.

If you can't stand the heat....

Otherwise, I tend to hit the sauna at the non-peak hours, apparently, because I've come to think of it as my hiding place. No one would think to look for me in there. And, even if they did, the stifling heat would deter them from coming in to get me.

Recently, while racing to the sauna where I could sweat in peace and relieve stress from my day, I walked in on a woman in dress mode and shouting her apologies before I'd hardly realized what the shouting was about.

Not knowing what else to do, I took a seat in the corner and focused on the ceiling.

I never got her name, mostly because she didn't stop talking long enough for me to ask. Instead, while switching from one layer of clothing to another in a series so complex I couldn't keep up, she told me about her home in Chicago, her mother with dementia, her views on public decency, and her pastor's sermon she could repeat in graphic detail about God's plan for sex.

After I got over the shock and embarrassment, I found it quite educational.

In between tying her splashy moo moo over a satiny slip of some kind and lacing up her all purpose sneakers, she recanted conversations she's had with a centenarian she visits after church on Sundays. She told me about the house where her mother has lived for 44 years. She tsk tsked through a conversation she'd had recently with a few young women who needed set straight.

When necessary, she would tuck a layer of fabric around her right breast, which mysteriously could never get enough fabric.

I came to the sauna to be alone. I came because it's where I'm always alone. After a day where someone had managed to press one of only three buttons I actually possess (my political buttons are totally separate from this total and are, therefore, exempt from all rules whether real or implied), all I wanted was to be away from all humans currently on planet earth, as well as any soon-to-visit alien species in this galaxy or beyond.

People are stressful. People are difficult. I didn't want to be around people.

As this woman talked - and tucked - I couldn't help but laugh. And be shocked. And laugh again because she amused me so greatly. She was charming and real, odd but personal, and if I didn't want to like people at that moment, God shouldn't have put me in a sauna with her.

When she left, wheeling her suitcase of various attire stuffed inside, she threw a blessing in my direction and then suggested I take a turn in the hot tub while fully attired in my workout clothes.

Once alone again, I thought about people. Yeah. Them. People.

I thought and I surmised and I scrunched my face and then I sweated through the scrunching and I considered all the ways people are terrible sometimes.

But, then again, sometimes I am, too.

People can be rude and inconsiderate, obnoxious and just seriously annoying, and that's not even getting into the deeper, darker layers of humanity where we turn cruel and even evil.

People suck. But, as my sauna friend showed me, sometimes, they also shine in the most unexpected of places. And for that reason alone, I left the sauna.