Would Someone Please Drop a House On This Lady?
Day two of the vacation, the first shift at the athletic club complete. Remember how I was a little nervous about starting a new "job"? Yeah, I don't know what that was about. Working at a gym is probably one of the most mindless things I can imagine doing. In fact, that's what makes it so perfect. There are no kids whining in my face about how they forgot to save their science fair project and now it's gone and what are they going to doooo?, no substitute teachers announcing that they somehow broke not one, not two, but all three of the copy machines in the library, no teachers having meltdowns about contracts and grading and union dues. Nope, it's just straight up easy: smile, say hi, hand them a towel, smile some more, say goodbye. Seriously, the hardest part is all the smiling- not because I don't want to, more because I'm not used to having it permanently plastered to my face. I'm going to have mad jaw muscles by the end of the summer.
It could be too early to tell, but I think I might be working with some of the world's strangest people. Half of the staff is in grad school for something or other, the other half seem to have barely finished high school. All of them are just plain weird. Since I was only there for four hours I'm still taking stock of the cast of characters, but rest assured I will make some snap judgements about them and get back to you. Anyway, there seemed to be one universal theme among all the employees there, a common unifier, if you will: they all have a deep-seated loathing for the woman who runs the parking lot across the street. Not one person failed to mention this woman to me immediately upon us being introduced. Conversations went like this:
Destiny: Joe, this is NPW. She just started today.
Joe: Nice to meet you, NPW.
NPW: You too.
Joe: I think you'll like it here, it's very laid back. Except that parking bitch across the street. She's a real c___.
NPW: Oh. Ahhh... yeah. I think Destiny mentioned her. So did Josh. And Jeff. And that other guy that stopped in for a minute earlier. And the lady that teaches pilates. And a couple of members.
Joe: Yeah. She sucks. Bad.
Not only did everyone want to trash the parking nazi, everyone also seemed to have a personal anecdote that they wanted to share that had to one up the previous anecdote. I think by the end of my shift it had escalated to the point where she had single-handedly caused the unrest in the middle east, stolen someone's baby and burned it in a bonfire, threw her own excrement at passersby from her attendant booth, and used all the tissues at the front desk without asking. Everyone also had a solution as to how I could avoid her wrath; some people chose to bribe her by letting her use the bathroom at the gym, some let her use the telephone, some tried to ply her with gym t-shirts. The manager of the gym recommended that if I parked in the lot, that I bring her some kind of peace offering right away- a plate of brownies, some candy, a crisp $20. He also warned that Parking Lady could be fickle: one day she'd let you drive right out of the lot for free, with a smile and a wave, the next she'd pretend she didn't know who you were and the cycle of extortion and bribery would continue.
I was a little disappointed I hadn't parked in the lot, opting instead to put $1.00 worth of quarters in the street meter, but I held out hope that she would come in so I could see her in person. Of course, the second my back was turned to sell someone a Vitamin Water I saw a little flurry of excitement and I missed my opportunity to gawk as she whisked past to grab a free (used) newspaper. Later on that evening I was further intrigued when a gym member came in and informed me, "Some guy out there is having an altercation with the parking attendant. He looked like he might hit her. She's a real jerk." I ran to the window to see if I could catch a glimpse of the action, but all I saw was the dude making obscene gestures out of his car window and flailing wildly, obviously incensed.
One man lost his parking ticket and I thought he would cry when he asked if I had any extra parking tickets for him. No, I'm sorry, only the parking lady has the parking tickets. Good luck with that, sir. He hung his head as he went back to search the locker room for his ticket to freedom. What does she do that makes people so angry? Is she blatantly rude? Does she charge more than she should? Does she place a hex on you and demand a lock of your hair as payment for exiting the parking lot? It will take some investigative work, but I have dedicated my summer to finding out.