Sunday, April 03, 2016

Power-lifting may tend to corrupt

My head was pounding. Adrenaline was rushing through me, raising my blood pressure and heart rate. Sweat beading on my brow. I couldn't breathe. My muscles twitched as every fiber of my being seemed to seize and contract.

This anger feels like a workout.

See, I have been on the phone now three times trying to cancel my gym membership. And each time I heard the same response.

You must come in and sign a form in person.”

It wasn’t inertia keeping me away. It was a sign that the owners had plastered to the front door of the club. A sign that seemed a harbinger of all that could go possibly wrong in a world filled with fear and firearms.

Guns are welcome on premises. Please keep all weapons holstered unless need arises. In such a case, judicious marksmanship is appreciated.”

It wasn’t a joke.

As I waited for a return phone call, I seethed. I should have ended this relationship last summer when news surfaced about a shooting accident at this very gym. The owner himself fumbled a gun, and, in an attempt to catch it, sustained a minor wound. Lesson learned. Or so I thought.

That’s what the police report said, anyway.

I had averted my eyes that time because I thought caution would prevail. But this sign reminded me some people prefer to throw caution to the wind.

My phone rang, Finally. The owner. His answer was more of the same: You must show up in person coupled with the assertion that he’s trying to work with me. These are just the rules I refuse to follow. Stop resisting.

But I didn’t want to go back. I didn’t want to set foot in a place where grunting people in sweaty clothes were now welcomed to bring their guns as sidekicks. 

And I certainly didn’t want to face the man with the gun. Especially now that he was reading me the riot act over the phone, saying I was the one who was threatening him. … All because I’d promised to let Better Business know there are probably better businesses.

All I wanted to do was cancel my membership. I didn’t want to cut off someone’s life support.

But I also wanted to stop being a doormat and a bystander. That skinny kid who gets sand kicked in her face.

I didn’t want to accept the threat of a cancellation fee that should have already expired on my mature membership. I didn’t want to accept the idea that a paper trail was necessary to end a service that no longer suited me. I certainly didn’t like being threatened with collections if I directed my credit card company to stop making payments.

As I listen to all the barriers being erected in the way of my departure, I fell disbelievingly silent. Why would a business owner prolong the inevitable? For his pound of flesh? Why am I trying to reason with irrational?

I just didn’t want to belong to a club that would have guns as members, why did this feel like breaking up with the worst boyfriend I never had?

All I could come up with were these three words …

You. Are. Insane.”

Which I said aloud, and which I instantly regretted.

Not that I have any medical objectivity to level such a diagnosis, the power struggle playing out over the phone just struck me as being an exercise in futility. 

I just didn’t want to belong to a club that would have guns as members.

I should have been nicer. “You get more flies with honey … didn't your mother tell you that?”

Nope. My mother was a realist. “Flies will flock to the smell of death, too. Who wants more flies?”

So I took the path of least resistance, held my breath , walked through the gun-welcoming door and signed the paper. Lesson learned.

It was time to lower my impact. Power-lifting – like power itself – might tend to corrupt.  

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