With such improving Covid news I was recalling the beginning of the pandemic with worldwide fear and panic of the deadly disease. And also of toilet paper shortages. I should talk. I wrote columns entitled, “He With Hand Sanitizer is King,” and “Will Work for T.P.”

Many of my friends battled the endless anxiety with meditative, albeit face-masked walks on the beach. I began daily 5-mile rides on the bike path from Ocean Park to Chautauqua and back. With the empty freeways the air was so pristine you could see puffy white clouds while the clean ocean smell was like aromatherapy. After biking I’d sit serenely on the beach and watch the waves roll in.

Soon, however, the bike path got so crowded it became a freeway. I even saw a young father with a helmet-wearing toddler in a “front pack” on his chest, actually texting while pedaling. (After all, what could go wrong?) There were also huge $2000 Electric bikes capable of 40 mph. When I’d see a distracted pack coming at me I’d prepare to steer my bike right into the sand.

Worried about these dangers, I talked to cops near the pier who agreed the E-bikes were illegal but with more serious problems plaguing the city they couldn’t do a thing. Unsatisfied, I got the contact info of the Assistant Chief of Police whom I emailed. (Surprise, surprise, I never heard back.)

To my delight, recently The Shores re-opened our gym. (With fingers partially covering my eyes, for the first time in a year I weighed myself on the gym scale and I’m five pounds lighter, or the scale is rigged to avoid mental breakdowns.) I definitely miss biking, the beach air and seeing people having fun on the boardwalk but the gym is definitely safer than dodging Electric bikes. That is, until one night…

The gym is open from 5 am. to 11 pm but only four people, or one household, is allowed. (What if the Duggar family with 19 kids moved into the Shores?) So I go at 10 pm as the gym is empty at that hour. But after my workout as I was about to leave, to my horror there was a chain and padlock on the fence. Apparently the security guard didn’t notice lights on in the gym and I didn’t have a cell phone. (Yes, I’m the one adult in America without one.)

Fortunately, there’s a phone at the pool connected only to 911. Unfortunately the line was dead! Frantic, I dragged one of the chaise lounges next to the gate and tried boosting myself over the fence. But the lounge wasn’t nearly high enough.

Though time consuming, I untied the cushions from fifteen chaise lounges and stacked them on the lounge next to the fence. I was definitely higher up and it seemed like I could jump and pull myself over, but the cushions were so unstable I couldn’t get a solid push off.

Suddenly I went from a little panicky to freaking out. It appeared I’d have to sleep by the pool until 5 am. I thought about yelling “Help” but enough of the tenants paying $5k a month and up, already look upon me as one step above homeless. So much for feeling good about myself for getting exercise.

Pacing back and forth, I noticed on the south side of the pool there was a tall, ornate cement trash depository that must weigh 200 pounds. Tipping it on its edge, inch by inch I slowly rolled it over and it was only about 4 inches below the fence. I climbed up the humongous receptacle, carefully spreading my feet so I didn’t fall through the open center designed for the trash.

Summoning courage, I remembered my high school basketball test for vertical leap in which I was over 20 inches. Here I only needed 5 but summoning reality this was decades past high school.

Desperate, I took a series of deep breaths and leapfrogged the fence, easily. On the other hand, if you want to feel how old you are, jump a fence and land on hard concrete. (Meanwhile, if somehow my toe had caught the lip of the fence, well, they’d still be sweeping me up.)

Adrenaline pumping I rushed to the security office but the guard (not the schlemiel who locked me in) was so empathetic, I couldn’t remain angry. In the morning I emailed our new manager, Leon, and he promptly had the phone fixed. In addition all guards were warned to check the gym before locking up the gates. (Duh.)

I suppose all’s well that ends well. That said I bet the puzzled maintenance crew at 5 in the morning were scratching their heads discovering 15 cushions stacked on a single lounge while all the others were barren.

Jack is at: facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and jackdailypress@aol.com