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July 30, 2013

LIZ CIANCONE: Taking comfort in the familiar

TERRE HAUTE — I find that change just isn’t as much fun as it once was. There is comfort in the familiar — an old pair of shoes or a mattress which seems to have lumps in all the right places. I’m falling into a rut. I tend to do things in the same old way, eat lunch at the same old places and see the same faces in the usual spots. In general, it means taking life as it comes, easily and comfortably.

So, it came as a bit of a shock a week or so ago to learn that Diane, our “den mother” at the Wabash Valley Sports Center, would no longer be behind the desk after Friday of that week.

For six (or is it seven?) years, my best friend and I have been regulars on the treadmills, exercise bikes and assorted weights and machines intended to keep us vertical. Diane was a welcome sight as we signed in.

I can’t imagine what time she had to get up to open the doors by 6 a.m., but by the time we signed in, she had made the coffee so that those of us who had “joined” the post-sweat cuppa group were going to have a wake-up call after expending our energy. Of course, every now and then one in the post-exercise group would bring doughnuts or cookies or some other temptation, and there went the workout!

Diane was more than an employee to all of us — she was a friend. She kept things humming, and if one of us failed to show up on our regular day, the phone at home would ring. She wanted assurance that everything was okay. She was also the one who made reservations when we all decided to get together for lunch. All that and she kept the place clean!

When we arrived at our usual time that first “blue Monday,” it was somehow different. Oh, the coffee was perked, the cups and creamer and sugar were set out and all was ready. The rugs were vacuumed, the windows washed and the usual bunch of early risers were hard at it. But something felt missing.

We all know and like both Mike and John who have been serving on a rotating basis at the desk, so there is still a friendly face and a pleasant welcome. I don’t know who is putting on the coffee, but it’s all there and it’s hot and ready. There has not yet been a group lunch or the need for a check-up phone call.

Maybe I just miss the comfort of the familiar, or maybe the feminine touch was what was missing. Our third Monday just passed. How much longer before the new becomes a comfort?

Liz Ciancone is a retired

Tribune-Star reporter. Send email to opinion@tribstar.com.

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