So, once again, off to work out I go. I live in a small town in North Carolina. Since I am going to provide some specifics to paint my lovely picture of life as best I can, let it be said:
I live in High Point, NC.
I live on the north side of High Point. This may not matter to anyone but me. But should one other person be aware of this area, the north side means I have my own Wal-Mart and am closer to the Palladium Theatre and the old Chick Fil A is currently being remodeled and there is a RUSH workout center right across the street from my...(yes, my) Wal-Mart.
This leads me to a very upsetting, angry, mortified incident that took me by surprise today as I went to work out with my personal trainer shortly after noon. (Please feel free to come and join me or see me at my prime.) When I went to sign in, two of the trainers, one who trains me and played basketball for Wake Forest and is a great, no make that amazing athlete and super trainer were chatting. Little did I know that I was about to walk into a hornet's nest. Let me give you a bit more background.
Where I work out, there are at least 4 or 5 NFL players who work out every now and then at the same place. The facility is open 24 hours. Quite frankly, everyone comes in, works out and chats with friends. But there's no real social hour. I walk in, get my little card scanned, hop on to a machine or three if I'm not working out with a personal trainer and starting sweating within 2 minutes. (Am I doing well with painting a pretty picture? I'm ready for a close up anytime. :)
So, I have been working out at this location for almost two years now. If you were to ask me to point out any NFL player who happened to be on site, you would be sooo out of luck. I notice that some men are bigger than others. I guess that there are many who take steroids. I was told that these fellows often have a problem with acne and they do happen to look a bit different than some of the other men who seem to just be naturally in shape.
The point of all this is that I had an idea to see if any of the pro or college athletes would be willing to visit my son's middle school football field during practice in the next couple of weeks. I believe there is a potential 'lock out' going on. I am not into every aspect of 'what's up in sports.' Anyway, I am aware that this is the off season and this might be a great time to have some pro athletes visit some young kids to encourage them to work hard and stay in shape and becoming a professional athlete is always possible even from a small school in North Carolina.
I talked to my personal trainer and she thought it was fine. Another trainer who works with my youngest son used to play football for N.C. State. He agreed to participate. So, then there was this other player who played with Appalachian State University who agreed and he knew some of the pros. He introduced me to one player. Again, there are at least four NFL teams represented. But to be respectful, I won't list the NFL teams by name.
Anyway, the one fellow told me that he would talk to his friends with all of these other teams and would also talk to a pro baseball player too. In fact, he knew a college player from both UNC and Duke. The one from the Blue Devils would be part of this year's draft. This was really shaping into an exciting opportunity. I could really be doing something good with the help of these people.
Well, I thought it would be respectful, since so many were working out at the RUSH to take advantage of the RUSH hummers and have them drive up in those onto the field and all pile out to meet these young 7th and 8th graders. I would contact the media and RUSH would get a free plug. I asked the manager....insert name and main character of this story...Randy if I could work with him to make this a great RUSH story, using the hummers and talking about being fit and in shape and considering working out at a gym to help get prepared for the fall football season. Randy said he was all for it. He said he even knew a few of the football players and would talk with them himself on my behalf. This was about three weeks ago.
When I mentioned all of this to some others who were familiar with Randy, they said I should not put any stock in what he said he would promise to do. I replied that I did believe the other person who was contacting folks and who said himself, that he wanted to see this happen within the month to make sure it happened at all. We agreed that the idea still had merit. Fast forward to this week and Monday afternoon.
I came in for my personal training session and there was Randy. I asked about the players and if he had talked with anyone. He said he was working on it. He pointed out a specific NFL player who happened to be there at the time working out himself. He said he knew him and would talk to him for me while this fellow was in the gym. Smiling, I followed my trainer to get started for another cool 'who knows' routine.
Man, she rocks the work outs...always coming up with 30 minutes of different exercises. Weights, different pieces of equipment (not work out machines) but step stools or ropes or who knows what. She always makes it interesting and we just don't stop. That's what I want. I want to be pushed as hard as I can, possibly go with no breaks. Okay, keep in mind when my heart races and I'm starting to wonder if there is enough oxygen in the gym for anyone else but me, I will point to the water fountain, not for water mind you. I just need the 'time out' to walk over to the water fountain and back to get ready to get back to business.
So, after my work out, I saw that the athlete was still there. I had been keeping my eye on where he was because I wanted to make sure that Randy kept his word. And since I hadn't seen Randy approach him, I decided I would go speak with Randy myself and get him to take care of it before I left. I asked if Randy would introduce me to the player and hoped that he would explain why I was interested in meeting him. To my surprise, Randy introduced me and walked off.
Okay. There I am, a lovely sight of matted hair to my scalp, sweaty clothes and a dangling headphone cord. Yeah, I'm a hottie at this point.
I don't know this man. And all that has happened is Randy has introduced me, (slaughtered my first name even after asking me how to say it right before he introduced me) and then he disappeared with me standing while this big man with a little boy face is about to bench press some pole with lots of black circled things on the ends of either side. (Okay, yes I knew they were weights. But really, did I care? No, not too much.)
So, this NFL player ignores me and begins to work out. He is working out with a partner, who is spotting him and who happens to have gone to school with him at the same middle and high school as my son is currently enrolled. He is wearing work out clothes that happen to feature the pro team he is affiliated with. His friend is also an employee at RUSH. So, I wait until this fellow finishes a set so that I can begin to explain why I wanted to meet him. I want to see if he would be willing to join some other athletes in visiting a middle school to help excite and encourage some young football players about school and fitness and the importance of both when it came to reaching your goals, even if one of the young men wanted to become a professional football player.
Sidebar: I grew up in Washington, D.C. I have dined with Presidents and Vice Presidents. I have visited the oval office, have worked, yes worked in the O.E.O.B. (Old Executive Office Building) for my brother in the late 70s, have met famous and not so famous millionaires and travelled many lovely places, taken several cruises and seen some amazing and uhm...well...some things better left for another time. So, please understand that meeting a pro athlete who was not a current or former Redskins player, or at least Michael Jordan was not something I would care to take my personal time to stop to do if it weren't for my son and for the young boys on his middle school football team.
Did I mention my profession is communications? No, I guess I didn't make that clear in this write up. So, what should have taken maybe 2 to 3 minutes tops seemed to be taking for-eeeeeeeee-ver! This NFL dude, who apparently played in the Pro Bowl as well moved from one set to another machine to do another set of whatever. I starting thinking to myself that maybe it was just tough to speak with a football player since I was not one. I mentioned that I was a Redskins fan to even let him know that I liked my team and no hard feelings but I wanted to talk about doing something great for kids. I didn't so much care about taking up his time but what he might be able to do to help inspire some young boys who might aspire to be like him one day.
So, I finally spelled out what I wanted to do. He asked me to leave my information on a piece of paper. I walked to the front desk, wrote out my information and then he informed me to leave my information at the trainer's desk. So, I think he was training me? Or maybe, as my son puts it, I was "schooled." I don't know. I do know that I felt pretty foolish and hoped that he would be willing to take part and actually stop long enough to let me speak with him for maybe 60 seconds. Well, whatever I could say, I said and I was ready to head home for a much-needed shower.
Then Randy stopped me and asked how it went and I said it was hard to talk to him. I told him that maybe it was because I wasn't a football player. I was so confused at how awkward the whole conversation or lack thereof transpired that I didn't think to ask Randy why he didn't stick around to help me explain the idea that he said he supported.
Well, let's get to the part where I begin to cry, and was fuming with anger, all at the same time.
Today, when I went in to work out, I signed in and the friend of that football player was at the trainer's desk with my trainer. As I was having my fingerprint scanned, I mentioned to this fellow that I hoped his friend was okay. I felt so out of sorts trying to talk to him when he kept moving around and I couldn't find a way to talk to him. Then the truth came out.
As it turned out, when this NFL player signed up at RUSH, his friend told me that he specifically mentioned to Randy that he did not want to be disturbed and just wanted to work out like anyone else without people coming up to him. So, after I talked with him earlier that week and just as I left the building, this NFL fellow came up to the trainer's desk and started going off at whoever was there, including my trainer. He was mad and pretty loud about being adamant about wanting to work out with no interruptions. He just wanted to have a place to work out and not be disturbed. He was so mad that I had approached him and mad that Randy had pointed me out or introduced me or at both situations that had occurred.
There I was, about to start working out and I just found out that I caused this guy to be so upset that he was yelling in the gym. I didn't even know I had done anything wrong. And there was no way that I could apologize. Even if I could remember what he looked like besides big with a baby face (which narrowed it down to 1/3 of the men who worked out there) I couldn't approach him. He would think I was a freakin' stalker. And Randy made me look like a lunatic. Randy introduced me to someone who asked Randy, himself to be left alone!
I was so humiliated. If you could have seen the friend's face and my trainer's face. It was as if I should have known better. How was I supposed to have known anything? My trainer put me on a machine to warm up for three minutes. Then, we moved back of the gym, to the grassy area and I can't remember much else. I began to get more mad until I started to cry. And I just couldn't stop crying. My trainer asked me if I was alright. Of course, I wasn't alright. But I just wanted to train. I wanted to work out and I wanted Randy to get his big over-bulked self over to me and to apologize for putting me in such a situation.
I couldn't stop thinking about how awkward it would be to see the trainers who knew I was the idiot who spoke to some NFL player and I was the one who disturbed him when all he wanted to do was work out like anyone else. Then, there was more to consider. My 13-year-old son attended the middle school where this pro athlete went to school when he was in middle school. Someone in his family actually worked at the school. Do you see where I'm going?
I live in a small town. I have two Wal-Marts to choose from, depending on what side of town I live on. And though I am not in the same county as the stupid RUSH gym, it just so happens that my son and this NFL player went to the same little po-dunk middle school that was on TV about six months ago for undergoing a drug raid with drug-sniffing dogs. Who knew?
Well, my fear was that this NFL fellow would surely tell his mom. His mom would, of course bring the story in to school. The story would easily get passed along to the football coach and would more than likely get out to at least one football player. And now, the one relationship I was trying to strengthen, my 13-year-old son would be battered to bits like a pinata at a birthday party.
While I was still working out with my trainer, I saw Randy sitting at his desk talking to one of the trainers. In fact, it was the same trainer who was the friend of the football player. Hmm. Wonder what they might have possibly been chatting about?
I walked over to him and asked to speak to him and then turned around to go back to where my trainer and I were working out. I was so angry and I wanted him to have to walk to where I was so that I could spend my time the way I wanted to and not waste my personal time on asking him why he had introduced me to someone who specifically asked not to have people bother him. He was always the one talking to this person or that. He was just that social butterfly of a manager. But this time, he was going to listen to me at my convenience.
He made his way over to where I was working out with my trainer and I let him have it. I asked him why he hadn't let me know that this football player didn't want anyone to speak with him. He told me he didn't understand. He said that I had asked to be introduced and he introduced me. I said that he knew that this fellow did not want to be bothered by anyone. He said he was not aware of that. I had him say that in front of my trainer so that this little slip up about supposedly not knowing this football player did not want to be bothered could go back to her co-worker and this NFL's friend.
I began to cry and told him that this player was really upset that I spoke with him and asked him about visiting the school. I said that this situation had put me in a bad light with someone I did not even know. I had been trying to do something special for my son and for his school and now this player was outraged because I spoke to him.
Well, Randy let me have it right back. He told me never to get in my face again. He said that he had introduced me like I had asked. I told him that he owed me an apology for putting me in such an awkward situation and that he should speak to this player to address it. Randy told me he didn't owe me anything and would not apologize. He told me to get out of his face and stay out of his face. I told him again that he owed me an apology.
I said that as a manager of this gym he was disrespectful to a customer and treated me rudely and speaking to me in this manner was even worse, was uncalled for, unprofessional and that he needed to apologize for his attitude. I then told him he needed to go somewhere and cool off and then approach me and apologize for his actions and his poor attitude. He was about to speak again but I wanted to keep up with my blood boiling and work out. I heard him huff off.
Needless to say, the sobbing didn't stop. The last part of my trainer's work out was something to do with coordination. I have none. And let me tell you, that trying to use what little coordination I had when I couldn't see from the tears raining down on my sweaty face didn't improve my ability to complete the task at all. My trainer tried to tell me to just let it go. I wasn't going to start asking her questions because I knew at the end of the day, it was her job that I could be messing with and I wasn't going to try to have a heart to heart with an employee who answers to him.
Even after my 30 minutes of working out with my trainer, I began working on my cardio, on the machines and I just couldn't stop crying. It wasn't non-stop in tears. Every couple of minutes, it was like a mini burst of sadness and anger. I kept thinking about this manager who had all of the power to talk to me and tell me to get out of his face. I could do nothing about it. I had nothing I could do. I had no one to go to who would stand up for me and make this person, this manager of a business realize that no customer should be treated disrespectfully. Although what he did was wrong, it was all compounded by his lack of professionalism and his inability to simply say, 'I'm sorry.'
So, there it is. There is a manager at the RUSH gym on N. Main Street in High Point, NC. Oh, I may have forgotten to mention that his name is Randy. If any of you folks happen to stop by and think maybe, from what I have said that he should at least be willing to say, 'I'm sorry' and not tell me, a woman who is 5' 5" and Randy, who is about 6' 3" to "get out of (his) face" during a work day in the gym when people are working out all around us, I would appreciate you stopping by to speak with Randy. Don't hesitate to tell him that I sent you.
I have been told that the district manager is just as charming. I could write a letter to the corporate office. I have actually done so in the past regarding their lack of monitors in the steam rooms. I have thought that it could be possible that someone could unknowingly fall asleep or pass out without anyone knowing. There still are no monitors. So, I'm not thinking requesting an 'I'm sorry' from a manager is going to be high on their priority list. I just need a big ol' football fellow or two to make that manager bully have to say he's sorry. Bullying happens at any age. I can't do anything to stop him from being rude to me in the gym that he manages. But, so far I can still work out there.
More than anything, I can only hope that my 13-year-old son doesn't find out about this from his teammates and that I won't have embarrassed him. I've had plenty of rounds of not being 'cool' in my own life growing up, in work situations and now as a parent. But when all is said and done, I just want my son to know how amazingly special and important he is to me, even if he is only playing football to be with his friends and he doesn't really care about the sport that much at all.
He's home now and doing his chores without being asked. I think I'll go and tell him how much I love him.