One of the first things taught to everyone who attended Liz’s “Orientation Class for Using the Weight Room,” was that we had to wipe the machines down and leave it at its zero settings when we finished. Everyone who attended Liz’s classes did exactly that. We respected each other’s efforts and treated the machines as if it were ours.
BUT, when the weekends and evenings arrived, so did Macho Man. He and his fellow Macho Men ignored the signs and did all the things we were told not to–drip their sweat on the machines as they tried to best each other by adding more weights or peddling faster on the stationary bikes or running harder on the treadmills. And, that was just warming up. When they left each equipment, the next person to use it had to wipe it down and reset the weights.
I know. I especially know all the moving parts of each piece of equipment and how to reset the weights on the equipment used for upper body strength. The first time I reset the weights, I was so nervous I unscrewed this huge nut and the whole system fell out of the metal support. I had to spend most of my reserved 1/2 hour putting it all together and then using the remaining 10 minutes to make sure the equipment still worked as it should. It did.
Normally, I don’t go to this particular gym in the evenings but Lyssa, my god-daughter, who is on the university swim team, wanted to put in some gym time. I agreed to go with her to keep her company. She calmly watched Macho Man leave his machine to amble over to another. He was not coming back to clean off his machine or reset it.
“Hey Muscles!” she called out. “You didn’t wipe your machine down or reset it.” She tossed him a casual smile and stood there waiting—61 inches of slender female in an oversize tee-shirt and pink shorts; long curly hair held back with a scrunchy and patiently tapping her shapely sneaker clad feet on the mat. Macho Man stopped and turned around, rudely eying Lyssa like a tasty appetizer. Lyssa stopped my angry movement and stepped in front of me.
“Not nice to drip your sweat all over the equipment, Muscles–especially not cleaning up after yourself. This is a nice gym and has rules for a reason.”
“You going to stop me, Mini-Gal?”
No, but I can stop you from coming back.”
“Don’t think so ’cause I’m way bigger than you, Mini-Gal.”
“I wouldn’t touch you unless I had my sani-wipes in my hands, Muscles. All I have to do is tell my Daddy about you and all your buddies. My Daddy is the Chairman of the Board that runs this gym.”
Macho Man, aka “Muscles,” displayed his most intimidating pose, pumping up his muscles and staring Lyssa down with a petulant smirk. His body language and smirk said very clearly, “Make me,” as he sauntered off to join his buddies in the testosterone corner—that’s where all the serious weights and bar-bells were.
I had encountered bullies in the schoolyard and bullies in the workplace. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find bullies at the local gym. The weekdays were so much more civilized since all the macho men and bullies were busy terrorizing their workplaces.
Three days later, I returned to the gym to catch the excited buzz zipping around about the Macho Men. Henry, the stationary bike guy I peddled beside, gleefully said:
“Guess you heard what happened on Sunday?”
“Haven’t been back since I hit the gym with my god-daughter on Friday evening. Lyssa had a few words with Macho Man,” I replied.
“Seems the chairman of the board for Parks and Recreation was hitting the circuit when the Macho-Men came in and did their usual thing. The chairman called them on it and reminded them nicely to wipe down the equipment they used and reset it back to zero. Macho Man told him that wasn’t their job and to feel free to do it. Then the yahoo went off to join his buddies.” Henry continued with a grin at what happened next.
Well, it seemed William S. Sorensen, Chairman of the Board for Oak Bay Parks and Recreation, was no wuss to stay silent. He threw out his booming drill-major voice and brought the entire gym to a halt.
“Halt, You! In this gym, no one ignores rules that are there for a reason. If you wish to continue using this gym, then you do your own wipe-downs, etc. Otherwise, I have the power to ban you from any Oak Bay Recreation Centre and I will pass the word along to my colleagues in the other municipalities as well.”
There was silence as 6 feet, 4 inches of muscle-bound Macho Man tried to outstare 5 feet, 6 inches of the Chairman of the Board. Then Macho Man quietly got a paper towel and sprayed it with disinfectant to wipe down the machine he had been using. He also reset it at zero, ready for the next person.
“No one’s seen any of them since,” Henry reported. “It seems the Macho Men probably found another gym they could take over and do as they wish. Hope so, ’cause the machines are always clean and reset now.” Thoughtfully, Henry paused for a moment and then remarked, “I’ve never seen William S. Sorensen in this gym before and you know what else? I checked the names of the Board members and there is no William S. Sorensen on the list.”