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Spinning Out of Control

15 Feb

What’s happening to me now is what I imagine hell must be like. I’m sitting on a bike going nowhere, doing ten seconds of intense peddling, ten seconds of rest, ten seconds of intense peddling, ten seconds of rest, to a modified version of Ke$ha’s “Timber” in which the already annoying refrain is being repeated over and over and over again. I’m sweating. I’m almost hyperventilating. I’m spinning.

When I first heard about spinning classes, I had a mental image of women pirouetting in a ballet room as some sort of latest-hype exercise. I had been going on the stationary bikes at my gym for a few months now and, after learning the truth about what spinning really is a few years prior, I figured that it would probably be a good idea to actually partake in some of the fitness classes that had tempted me enough into buying a gym membership in the first place.

I used to be really shy about being the new person in any type of fitness class. After practicing yoga in college, however, I learned the benefits of telling instructors when you were new. Pretending that you know the basics of yoga only to start off doing them completely wrong can build bad habits and even hurt your body. Equipped with that knowledge, I walked into the spinning room, sat down on a bike in the very back next to another girl, and immediately raised my hand when the instructor walked in.

I explained to the instructor that I was new to spinning and asked his recommendation on what height I should set my bike seat at. This man, after correctly guessing that I was 5’9, adjusted my seat so incredibly high that I was practically towering over the other bikers settling into the room. It felt pretty odd, but he insisted that it was the perfect height for my long legs. Whatever, not the first time that I’ve felt uncomfortable in a fitness situation (not sure what I mean? Talk to any person who was nerdy in high school).

spinning class

I settled into my seat and immediately started scoping out the other attendees. The girl next to me was the only young person besides me there – everyone else was in their forties and fifties and seemed in very good shape. To my amazement, some people were actually already powering away on their bikes even though the class was ten minutes away from starting! I spent the next few minutes talking to the girl next to me, learning that this was her first class at the gym and her first spinning class since college. Good, I thought, we can completely suffer through this together.

Then the fun began. The lights dimmed, the fake traffic light in the room lit up, and the instructor put on a microphone and started up his playlist.

The first ten minutes or so were great. I was here biking, doing my thing, enjoying the upbeat music and mentally patting myself on the back for remembering to bring a bottle of Gatorade and a sweat towel.

“Okay everyone, the next minute is going to be thirty seconds standing up, thirty seconds sitting down. Let’s go!”

I realized this meant that I actually had to stand up on what was already an extremely elevated bike seat and continue peddling in a standing position. I instantly knew it was going to hurt very, very much.

So here I am, standing up and peddling, watching the pros do it like it wasn’t a big deal at all. After about five seconds, I realize that my legs can’t take it anymore. I try to sit back down, only to realize the true meaning of the word ‘spinning’ – the bike peddles will literally continue spinning because they are tied to weights. As I try to lower myself down, I feel my legs completely fly out of the grips, and I hold on for dear life as my body almost falls off the seat. The peddles are spinning at the speed of light, and I wait until they slow down to place my feet in them again.

This exact scenario repeats itself four more times, and I’m too terrified to even look at the instructor because I’m pretty sure he’s laughing.

Meanwhile, the pros in this class put my already embarrassed self to shame: they aren’t breaking a sweat, they are actually smiling, which is horrific given the situation, and one of the men is even clapping his hands in the air as he is riding like a steroid-pumped seal.

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Thirty minutes go by and I realize that it’s probably best to just forget the whole standing up thing. Before I know it, the instructor has hopped down from his bike at the front of the room and is tightening the grips on my feet. The grips had adjustors. Instructors, these are probably things you should tell first-timers at spinning so we don’t find ourselves practically spread-eagle on a bike with the peddles spinning out of control. Just, you know, putting that out there.

The rest of the class is comprised of me staring at the clock and trying to remind myself that I’m not having a heart attack. My heart feels like it is beating so incredibly fast that it’s going to pop out of my chest. My mouth tastes like bile. My legs feel like they will never, ever walk again. I am never bitching about doing chair poses in yoga again, I said to myself. I’d take that pain over spinning any day.

Amazingly, I made it through the entire hour and biked a total of 15.50 miles – that’s two more miles than it takes for me to drive to work every morning. The instructor walked up to me and asked how I liked the class, and I told him that I both loved him and hated him at the same time for putting me through that, to which he nodded sagely.

All in all, my first spinning class was slightly nerve-wracking and, like most things I do, didn’t go exactly right. The whole experience was really enjoyable, though, because I realized how far I’ve come. I used to actually cry about embarrassing sports-related situations like that in gym classes when I was younger, and I never felt confident in my ability to challenge my body. Now, I know that I’m able to try new things that I would have probably had panic attacks over during my elementary school gym days.

I walked out of the gym sweat-soaked and completely exhausted. Walking right next to me was the girl in my class, and we spent a few minutes talking to each other about when we joined the gym, what we did for work, what schools we went to, etc. She asked if I would come back and do more classes and, despite everything that happened, I said yes. And that’s the best thing about gyms, really – for a girl who dreaded P.E. all her life, my gym has some of the nicest, most supportive people. I wish I could have told my fifth grade self that pushing your physical boundaries shouldn’t be embarrassing, and it certainly doesn’t mean you have to be perfect . No matter how retarded you look, there will always be someone there to cheer you on. And that, to me, proves that this world really does spin in the right direction.

An “Unpleasant Experience”

23 Jul

I know I said in my previous post that I was going to continue my topic about what customers should know about retail workers, but I have decided to push that to the side and focus on/rant about a customer that I had today. I would like to preface the story by saying this: I am going to start counting all the bad customers I get on certain days, because I’m pretty sure I get the most annoying ones when I have the shortest shifts…it’s like they can sniff it out!

Today I only worked for five hours, but it seemed like it was just one lunatic customer after another. First of all, I am pretty sure today was an unofficial “Bring Your Tumor to Work Day” because I saw not one, but TWO customers walking around with what can only be described as very large tumors. One was bubbling out of a man’s arm, and the other one was the size of an orange and protruding from the back of another man’s head. Gag me. Then, after Tumor One and Tumor Two were gone, I had another customer come in and bring her bike into the store, and then she walked around asking us all questions about how much things cost (Here’s a little tip: the prices are always underneath the items, and if they are all sale, you can bet your bottom dollar that there’s a sale sign underneath the item too!). She returned something without a receipt, so we had to give her a company gift card instead of money back, and then she made a point of running around trying to give her gift card to random customers because she “Doesn’t live here” and the card “Means nothing to [her]” due to the fact that she lives in Israel. Apparently crazy people from Israel just decide to fly into our city, rent bikes, and return random items! Not a single customer ended up taking her gift card, so she ended up buying a shit ton of pretzels for herself. All’s well that ends well, eh?

A few other crazy customers came in, one of which was actually a pleasant crazy customer considering we had a nice ten-minute long chat about how you should totally keep wearing your retainers even years after you get your braces off. My dentist thinks I’m crazy, but teeth do shift! Oh, and I also had to attempt to take a three-month old’s passport today, and the baby kept crying with her one fist up, so every picture I took made her look like an angry old mafia man. I really hope the mom keeps that picture for when she’s older!

But enough of the mildly-crazy people–let’s get to the juicy center of what happened today. To put it plainly, I had the most ignorant, unintelligent, rich old lady that I have ever had in my store. And trust me, I’ve had a lot. This particular elderbitch (this is my new nickname for elderly bitchy women…I also think Stephanie Meyer might use the same term for one of her little Twilight vampire clans. If not, you read it here first) was dressed in a nice silky-looking top and bottom, and she seemed like a sweet old lady. After watching her shakily grab things from her cart and put them on the counter, she began asking me why a certain bar of soap wasn’t on sale. So, I grabbed the flyer and I put on my Preschool Story Time voice and read to her the exact details/specifications of the sale. She still didn’t get it, and kept insisting that she wanted to get the sale. So I continued repeating what it said in the flyer in hopes that something would eventually click. Finally she decided to not get the soap…whatever. Then, she became confused because she happened to grab the one kind of weird-ass tuna that wasn’t on sale, I explained to her that she needed to grab another kind if she wanted the sale, and she argued with me about that too. I invited her to come back to the aisle so I could show her the sale sign, but she refused.

To make a long story short, this woman managed to find five things that were very similar to the other five items that we on sale, and then she acted like I was retarded because I wasn’t “understanding the sale.” I was with her, I kid you not, for about twenty minutes, and I was getting more and more frustrated because she was obviously upset and the more I tried to explain to her about the sales, the angrier we both got. I could actually feel my face heating up because I was getting so infuriated. Then, when I finally rang up the items that she decided she wanted, she started complaining to me about how her shopping experience today was “very unpleasant”. I felt like saying “Yeah, well this wasn’t exactly a bowl of ice cream for me either, elderbitch.” Then she started to walk away without paying! So I had to call her back and tell her the total. I said, “Okay, you still need to pay. Your total is $7.77” and she thought I was talking about one of the items on sale, and she said, “No! I thought the sale was for seventy-seven cents!” So then I spent another ten minutes trying to explain to her that she still owed me money. Throughout the whole transaction, two of my co-workers were up there laughing to themselves because they could see I was pretty much ready to smack her.

If there is anything anyone could take away from this rant, it is this: Please please please read sale signs and fliers carefully before you decide to come up to a cashier in line and argue about why things aren’t on sale. And if you are an old lady and used to just complaining and scaring people in order to get your way and get sales for things that really aren’t on sale, don’t come into my store because I will not give you want you want. Also, if you tend to discover that you are one of those people that never gets the sales right, never feel ashamed to walk up to a cashier and ask them to just find the sale items for you…it takes up a lot of less of our time as opposed to arguing with you about it while you are getting ready to pay. I feel bad that the woman was upset and confused, but she could have saved both of us a lot of trouble if she would have just read the signs carefully.

Penny Pincher

5 Jul

I am starting to think that there is a pattern to the timing of annoying or bitchy customers coming into the store. From what I’ve experienced, the most common time for the most terrible customer of the day to arrive is around twenty to forty minutes before you are about to leave. You can go the whole day ringing up the nicest, most sweet customers, but if you should be cursed enough to receive even a single terrible one–even if it’s only a few minutes before you are scheduled to leave–it can be just as unsettling as having ten bad customers in a row. Which brings me to my first “I Live To Make Your Life Miserable” category customer–The Foreign Penny Pincher (literally):

It’s twenty minutes before I leave, and my situation is a perfect recipe for disaster: my only other co-worker is on the floor assisting a customer who has a handicap, my shift supervisor is off the clock and gathering her things, and the next shift who is supposed to be coming in is sitting in her car in the parking lot twiddling her thumbs.  In other words, there is no way I’m getting cashier backup even if my life depended on it.

A foreign elderly lady walks up to my register and starts fiddling with coupons in her purse. As she fiddles, several of them either rip in her hands or fall onto the counter. She looks around and says “I had a few items here…where are they?” I see a box of hair color and a greeting card, so I hold them up and ask if they are hers. “I cannot SEE THEM!” she says, so I basically hold them dramatically high above my head. She nods and says “Yes, those are mine.” I put them on the counter, and she is STILL looking around as if she doesn’t know where she is.

“I had something else…where did it go? It was a package of pads…I want to use this coupon for it.” I hold up the coupon and notice that it is for Tampax, and I explain to her that Tampax only makes tampons, not pads. I then proceed to raise two different packages of pads that I have behind the counter up for her, and she picks the one that she left up there.

As she continues to ask me why she can’t use her Tampax coupon, I look up and see about five other people in line glaring at me. I try to get through the transaction as fast as I possibly can because there have been times where I’ve had customers just throw down their things and storm out of the store (Honestly people–where’s the fucking fire? Are our lives in that great of a rush that we can’t wait in line for things anymore?).

I tell her the total, and I’m praying to god that she is going to hand me a credit card so that I can snatch it, run it through, and send her on her way. That would be too simple, though. Instead, with hands shakier than the earthquake in Haiti, she proceeds to give me exact change. You know–the kind of change that lives in the darkest, most evil depths of an old lady’s purse or wallet. The kind of change that prides itself on being hard to find…the kind of change that almost acts like a magnet and sticks to the nether regions of the purse that no fingers seem to ever touch. Finally, after what seems like several light years, she hands me the change and I move my hands quickly around in order to catch all of it falling from her shaky hands. I put it in the drawer, and I give her the one penny back that I owe her. And, let’s face it, up to this point this has been just a typical old lady story, but even with four years of retail behind my back, I have never heard a customer ask me this:

“Can I have a penny that isn’t dirty?”

I kind of looked at her and completely expected her to laugh, wave her hand (shakily) around and tell me that she was joking, but she was dead serious. At this point the line was so long that it was out the door and people were starting to play guitars just to pass the time. Okay, not really, but it sure felt like it.  So I raised my eyebrows and said okay, I had to sign off of my drawer to open it, and I picked out the shiniest fucking penny you could ever imagine.

First of all, a “clean penny” is an oxymoron–there IS no such thing as clean money. Second of all, why the hell would it matter if a penny was dirty or not? That’s what coin purses are for–to keep money separate from touching other things. I’ve seen a lot and I’ve heard a lot, but this one takes the proverbial cake.

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