Two months ago I joined a gym. I realized I needed to build leg strength if I wanted to be a better runner on the trails and reduce my injuries. Then I realized I needed to part with my sixth grade physique and build strength all over my body (womp, womp).
Before going to the gym, I pictured myself walking past the entrance and being greeted by a friendly face who would then say something like, “Hi and welcome to the first of your five days.” Why five? That’s how long I expected all my muscles to start bulging out. Sadly, this didn’t happen.
Instead, my first day was awkward. Uncomfortably awkward. I walked in and there was nobody at the front desk to greet me and maybe 5 people total exercising. An elderly woman was standing in front of me waiting for someone to check her in. She reminded me of Maxine from the Hallmark greeting cards with her grey hair and sunglasses. I made small talk with her and told her it was my first day. With her sweetest grandma voice she tells me, “Oh you’ll love it here. There’s hardly anybody here and there’s always a machine available.”
At that moment, one of the employees startles to the front desk from the back room. His face looks like the one I make when my alarm doesn’t go off in the mornings but he isn’t making eye contact. His physique pretty much says he lives in a gym. He has a buzz cut, dangerous eyes, a strong jaw, and some visible tattoos on his arms and legs. He’s pretty much what I would expect to see in a gym, or a bar, or a tattoo parlor. He checks the woman in and she goes on ahead.
“Hi, this is my first time here,” I said with my usual friendly tone and smile.
He looks at me and says, “OK?” No smile. No questions. He probably thought I wanted a pat on the back.
“Do I need something to check in?” I asked.
His bewildered look told me he had no clue what I was saying. It seemed like the sound of customers at the front desk interrupted him from doing inventory in the back room and he wasn’t focused on what I was saying.
Once I explained I had signed up online, he quickly got me set up in the system. He handed me my ID card and that was the end of it. I could already tell I wasn’t getting a tour of the place and so I asked if I could take a look around. The look on his face said he didn’t care. I wasn’t surprised.
Just as I was walking away from him, a young, tall, attractive, blonde woman walks out from the back room. Her clothes and hair are notably disheveled.
Her name? Inventory.
(Cue the awkward turtle.)
Everybody glanced at everybody for about two seconds.
I took a quick look around the gym and left.