Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Squeaky Wheel

There's a squeaky elliptical at my gym.  It happens to be my favorite elliptical because it's at the end of the row and next to a window.  The faster you go, the more it squeaks, and I go pretty fast.  It has been squeaking for months.  It squeaks for me and it squeaks for everyone else who uses it.  I kind of assumed we were all used to it.  It's a gym, not a courtroom and pretty much everyone is wearing headphones anyway.

So Sunday, I finished my elliptical workout and I noticed a woman trying to get my attention.  I couldn't imagine what she wanted from me and I was trying to remember if I'd seen her somewhere before, when she said, "Could you please be more aware of the squeaking noise you're making."  I stood there gaping at her as the realization hit me that I was being publicly chastised for thoughtlessness.  I was perfectly aware that my elliptical was squeaky and I had chosen to ignore it.  To use the elliptical in such a way that it doesn't squeak would mean to barely use it at all and I'm not sure one gym goer has the right to ask another to reduce the intensity of her workout.  After stammering for a second, I told the woman that I would ask "them" to fix it, hoping that would convey to her the fact that  the squeaky elliptical is outside of my control and not my responsibility.

How I wish I'd responded


Usually, I stretch after a workout, but I was so upset I could hardly see straight, plus I sensed that others in the gym were embarrassed and were trying to avoid looking at me.  Were they sympathetizing with me or with her?  I couldn't tell.  Suddenly, I seemed to be in everyone's way.  So I left, but I stopped at the front desk and told them that someone had complained about the squeaky elliptical.  They said that a part deep inside the machine was squeaking, that there was nothing they could do about it now, and that a new part had been ordered.  I felt better, knowing that the gym people knew it was broken, but hadn't felt the squeaking warrented preventing people from using it.

It is deeply upsetting to be scolded in public, especially when you are totally unconscious that you have been doing anything wrong.  Not that I'm convinced that I was in the wrong.  I understand that it's rude to make a lot of noise in public, but since this noise was something outside of my control, and a gym is already a somewhat noisy place, it never occurred to me that it might be seen as rude by someone else.

Do you chastise strangers?  Has a complete stranger ever scolded you in public?

15 comments:

  1. That woman is obviously an insane harpy. Does she think you own the elliptical but forgot to bring your tools to repair it? She's apparently unaware of the unspoken social contract: complain to the gym employeed all you want, but leave the customers alone about things out of their control. And get some headphones if you're that sensitive.

    Someone tried chastizing me once when my purse bumped into her in an aisle as I was trying to pass. It was hard NOT to bump into her since she was obliviously taking up the entire aisle. I can't even remember what she said but my response was a bug-eyed "Really?" This was at the same CVS where people chastized the woman taking too long at the pharmacy counter.

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  2. That woman was out of line.

    As for chastising strangers, most of the time, no I wouldn't. I would make an exception for someone being who's being utterly rude, offensive, or abusive to someone else.

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    1. I would find it extremely difficult to ever criticize a stranger in public.

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  3. What a crab! You could have said "I know! It really gets on my nerves too, but until the gym fixes it, we'll all have to just have to put up with it." with a big smile. But of course, I never think that quickly.

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    1. I wish I'd thought of that! Hopefully their won't be a next time, but if there is, that's what I'll say.

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  4. It's not like you were grunting inappropriately (oh, it happens) or dripping sweat everywhere. Geez. What a freaking $%&@#.

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    1. Some people at my gym do make unique exhalations and other sounds when they work out. It doesn't bother me, I've just noticed it.

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  5. I could watch that lovely winking man all day.

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  6. I don't chastise strangers, although I might have made an exception for that woman. I can't understand how she would have thought that was an appropriate comment!

    In swimming at the Y, I've had a much older woman come into my lane and start exercising (not swimming laps), just taking up the whole width lane as if I wasn't even there. That totally flummoxed me too, and I didn't know how to react.

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    1. That is weird. I thought there was basic swim lane ettiquette. My squeaky elliptical is next to the window that overlooks the pool and I think if someone did that the lifeguards would direct them to the family pool. There is one lane that seems to be reserved for non-lap swimmers.

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  7. She was terribly rude! I had someone chastise me in a parking lot as I was getting into my car (with my teen daughter in the passenger seat) for being too close to the line (on my car's driver's side). I pointed out to him that the car on the other side of me (my car's passenger side) was large and on the line on the other side. Since the parking lot was crowded and my car is small, there was no choice but to take the spot or continue circling. I told him I was backing out anyway, but it looked to me as though there was plenty of room for him to get into his car even with my car there (something I checked when I took the spot in the first place). He said, "Oh, that's not my car." So ... this guy wasn't affected at all. He just happened to walk by and felt it was his job to scold. Some people! Don't worry. I tazed him. :-)

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  8. AS IF you can control the noise of exercise equipment! She had something stuck in her craw. I mean, it's one thing to chastise something within control (like talking during a movie in a theater), but I'm loathe to bring up my complaints unless it's really on my LAST NERVE. (Like talkers during a movie. Especially when I paid for a sitter to get to watch the movie.)

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  9. I kind of think people who are rude in public have often had something earlier that day that's set them off. It's possible that you weren't actually the problem, you just happened to be the unlucky recipient of her outburst.

    I really empathise. I'm the sort of person that finds it incredibly difficult to put the embarrassment of an incident behind me, and replay it over and over in my mind. A trick I've learned is to imagine giving the person that has upset me a super tight hug, so that they can't escape. I imagine that it hurts them a little bit, and it often makes me feel slightly less inclined to punch the in the face next time I see them.

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