Tuesday, March 31, 2009
You have no rights when you work in customer service. It's comparable to being a black man in rural Alabama.
"He shot me, officer."
"Why were you in the way of his gun?"
It's weird. Sometimes I actually mistake myself for a human being. I guess it's easy to get confused. I exhibit a lot of the traits: thinking, breathing, masturbating. I know how to wipe myself, know how to operate a microwave. I can shout racial slurs at Mexican drivers then go and bang a Hispanic girl. I have many facets, multiple dimensions. I am a contradiction.
But I'm also an employee, which negates allllllll of that shit. If you tell me to go fuck myself, I have to go fuck myself. And I have to do it with a smile. You, the customer, the member, are always right. Me? I'm your bitch. Your slave. Your gimp.
No, I'm definitely not human.
The gym enforces blackout hours. During the week, from 5 to 7:30, employees are not allowed to use the facility (not even the bathrooms) so as not to get in the way of real live people. These are enforced regardless of gym traffic. I've been chewed out before for taking a shower in an empty locker room.
"It's the rules," my manager told me, booze on his breath.
In order to comply with these rules, I lift at four, finish by five, and wash my ass at home.
That wasn't good enough today, though.
I came back from my superset to find a gay man with Val Kilmer hair stripping the weights from the Smith machine I had been using.
"I'm on that, man."
He looked up, ready to retort with something assholish, like he was going to let me have it for not physically standing by my piece of equipment. His expression changed when he saw that I was bigger than him and probably didn't have a small dick.
"Oh, uh, well, I asked everyone around and they didn't know who was on it so..."
"You didn't see my belt and towel and keys right there?"
"Well you weren't here."
"That's because I'm hopping back and forth trying to get everything done. I work here and they kick me out at five."
I pointed at the clock. 4:53.
"Can I work in then?"
"Yeah, but we're doing two different things and it'd be kind of inconvenient. I'll be done in a few if you want it then."
Completely polite with a hint of firmness. He hung around for a moment while I threw my weights back on -- one of those things people do when they're embarrassed but don't want to look like they're embarrassed. Then he walked away. I continued my workout and things were good.
At 4:58, my manager came up.
"Did you just tell a member he couldn't use a piece of equipment because you were on it?"
I had thought to myself that it would be funny and fucking ridiculous if the member went and told on me. I'm always concocting scenarios in my head, anticipating the next move. I'm like the kid in Searching for Bobby Fischer, looking ahead on life's chessboard: if I move this, he'll move that, then I'll move this, then he'll move that... I'm pretty accurate for the most part, so this queen didn't surprise me too much, but at the same he did. What a prick.
"Yeah, I told him I had to be out of here at five and I'd be done in a minute."
My manager got this look on his face like a movie-father gets when he's telling a boy to stay away from his daughter.
"You are an employee of this company. He is a PAYING MEMBER."
"I understand that, but I'm just trying to follow the rules."
"No, you're not following the rules!"
"You know what? Just go. Go home."
"Are you serious?"
"Go. Get out of here. Stop fucking my daughter."
Okay, he didn't say that last part.
I grabbed my stuff and followed my manager downstairs. Inside, I could feel my soul die a little more. Ever smush an ant and watch it hobble around? My soul is that ant. Except glowing.
My manager told me we needed to talk and took me into the personal training office where they usually fire people they regret hiring. Inside sat the fitness manager, a Napoleonic complex with a goatee and LA Looks-hardened hair. He used to be cool back when he first got hired as a trainer, but then they promoted him and he turned into a major dick. Shit like that happens when you drink your own Kool-Aid.
"You need to quit with your primadonna attitude!"
"I was polite. He's being the primadonna."
"He's allowed to be a primadonna! As an employee of this company, you are here to serve him! He pays for a membership. Me and you are employed because of him."
And I understand this. In theory. But a line has to be drawn somewhere.
I tried to explain where I was coming from. I told my manager that this wouldn't be an issue if I had more time to work out and wasn't rushing to finish by five -- a case of the corporate snake coiling back to feed on its own tail. He told me that was my problem. Not his. Not the member's.
Basically, I argued I was a human. He argued I was an employee.
What hurts and bothers me is that my manager is so blind as a corporate android that he didn't even stop to consider that maybe this guy was being self-centered and more than a little fucking demanding. It's one thing to pretend to be on the customer's side for the customer's sake. It's another thing to actually be on the customer's side. Because I am an employee, I am automatically wrong and the member is automatically right. What if I were a member? What recourse would he have had then? I should quit, BUY a membership, and drop a fucking dumbbell on his head. And then complain to my manager about the blood and skull fragments on the floor.
"There should not be brain matter on this floor! I pay way too much money to work out here."
"Eat my ass."
And then I bend over and he eats my ass. Not because I'm gay, but because I'm powerful.
I considered walking out. Telling him to fuck off. But then I thought about the economy. About Obama looking to the heavens. About my networking opportunities. About my free membership. And I saw the fitness manager sitting there with that overly concerned, managerial look on his smug face, hands folded by his chin, and I knew he wanted me to fly off the handle because I almost kicked his ass at a bar one night and made a bunch of short jokes because he had tried to get me fired for "undermining" him.
I took a deep breath and literally bit my tongue.
"You're right. I'm wrong. I'm sorry. It will never happen again."
"I'm glad you realize that."
And then I went the extra mile:
"Where's the member? I'd like to apologize to him."
You could almost hear the pre-cum leak from my manager's dick tip. And oh how I knew it would. To him, this would be a grand gesture from a veteran employee who had an unfortunate lapse in judgment. To me, this would be suppressing my rage and discontent long enough to save my job, earn brownie points, and get a closer look at this guy's face so I could fuck with his life at a later date.
We left the office and my manager ushered me over to where the asshole was doing wrist curls for his forearms -- an exercise to improve his mojito-fueled handjobs at techno-powered dick bars, no doubt. I crossed my fingers on my left hand and obscured them with my towel. I mean the company's towel.
"I'd like to apologize for my behavior. I was rude and inconsiderate and I'm sorry."
The member's reaction -- a mixture of entitlement and satisfaction -- pissed me off even more.
"Thanks. I mean I'm all for supersets, but you should let other people work in, you know."
I bit my fucking tongue again. I wanted to tell him, to beat it into him, that I HAD NO TIME. That he was a tattletale bitch with the hair of Iceman, and that I would gladly key the Porsche he cruises Santa Monica Boulevard in given the chance.
"I know. I'm sorry. I was wrong."
He put his fist out. Really. Really. I gave it a weak tap and walked away.
"There you go! That's what I like to see!" my manager exclaimed, slapping me on the shoulder in a "did you see that touchdown?!" way. We were friends again. And we'll always be friends -- just as long as I'm on the customer's side.
I need to sell a fucking script.