Crap I Think of While Mowing the Lawn – #10

Crap I Think of While Mowing the Lawn

Volume 10

(other than This Lawn Looks Like Crap)


Interesting, if not deep, thoughts often pop into my head while I’m doing battle with my lawn. And yes, I do battle with a non-gas, non-electric, old-fashioned push mower. An actual reel mower. And my mind tends to think of some semi-interesting crap while I push along.

Mower and Statesman


Welcome to Volume 10 of Crap I Think of While Mowing the Lawn.



Not too many hours ago, I returned home from a couple days in New York, spent visiting my wife’s sisters. I’m feeling quite bloated, in no small part due to an eating-to-exercise ratio that has been off-the-charts. If I’m remembering the correct term from a 1970s math class, my eating-to- exercise ratio has been undefined. Or, I can define it as “being a hog without any conscience.” Or limits.  On Friday alone, just five or six hours after a huge dim sum brunch, we were part of a cookout that featured all of the food groups: chicken wings, lamb shish-ka-bob, burgers, dogs, salmon and ribs. Inexplicably, I passed on the dogs, but when we moved inside, there was homemade pizza and store-bought ice cream.

All this came during a week that featured no workouts beyond my early Sunday morning tennis. This has been a bad week to be without a membership to a gym. Which brings me to the gist of Crap I Think Of...#10.



Over the years, I’ve belonged to several health clubs. Sometimes, I used them a lot; at other times, the membership proved to be a bad investment. For the last couple years, my wife (Ruby) and I had a membership to (for now) an unnamed club – you can call it the Strawberry Hill Isometrics and Tennis Club (or, SHIT-C).  For a long time, Ruby and I weren’t using it much at all. In the last four months, I’ve gotten in a good groove, getting in workouts at least three days per week, which has helped me get in pretty good shape. During these last four months, Ruby has probably used SHIT-C once.

Here’s the issue: The club is nice, and expensive. Yes, it’s nice and expensive; the people who work there (except for the sales manager) are nice and helpful, but the price is out of line for what I use it for. As our two-year contract was coming to an end, and especially as I was seeing ads for other gyms that would charge between 25 and 30 percent of what I’m now paying (Ruby can stay in shape without a health club membership; I’ve proven that I can’t), I approached them to see what they could offer as my renewal rate. As they couldn’t offer anything that wouldn’t be at least twice as much as a couple reputable looking gyms, and my SHIT-C membership expired at the end of June, I played out the string. In the meantime, I decided on the club I would join in early July.

On June 20th, I called the club to find out what I needed to do to make sure that I wouldn’t be billed (automatic deduction) any more. I was told to fill out a form via their website, and to expect a call from someone at SHIT-C within a week. On June 30, I received a call from…call her…Lana. This is an only slightly satirized version of the call and emails that we exchanged.

Lana:       Hello, is this Mark?

Me:           No, it’s Matt.

Lana:       This is Lana from SHIT-C. We really value you as a member, and sorry to hear that you plan to leave us. Why are you planning to do so?

Me:           Well, as I wrote, when I submitted the form, I really like the club, and all but one arrogant employee there has been really nice, but it’s just become too much for our budget. I had tried to work out a more affordable rate a few months ago, but I couldn’t get anything below $40 or $45 per month. Elsewhere, I can get the same workout for $20 per month, only lock in for one year (as opposed to two) and even get unlimited guest passes.

Lana:       I see. Have you joined that other gym yet?

Matt:         Not quite yet.

Lana:       Okay, great. SHIT-C really values your membership. Let me see what we can do. Can you hold?

Matt:         Sure.

Lana:       I’m happy to tell you that because you are a valued member, we can give you the fantastic price of $45 a month with a two-year contract. How about that?

Matt:         No, that’s the same thing that was offered to me a few months ago. It’s more than twice as much per month, it’s double the contract length and I don’t even get any free guest passes. I like SHIT-C, but…

Lana:       That’s our best offer. Are you sure you don’t want to jump all over it?

Matt:         Yes, I am.

Lana:       That’s a shame. Well, I do have good news for you. You’re still with us for another two months!

Matt:         I am?!

Lana:       Yes, as you know, we have a 60-day cancellation policy, so welcome back to SHIT-C.

Matt:         Wait, let me get this straight. Nobody has ever mentioned that there is a 60-day notice provision. Not when I joined, not when I discussed renewing my contract, not even when I went online to submit the cancellation form.

Lana:       Yep, that’s the beauty of it. It kicks in automatically. Besides, it’s on the contract you signed – in a nice, clear 6-point font.

Matt:         Thanks for the reminder. But the thing is, I really don’t walk around with my health club contract and a magnifying lens.

Lana:       You may want to get your eyes checked, Matt. As a family-owned club that cares about your total welfare, SHIT-C can recommend a wonderful ophthalmolog…

Matt:        No, that’s quite alright, Lana. Now, I’m still a little hung up on this hidden 60-day provision of yours.

Lana:       Pretty cool, huh?

Matt:         Well, no. Cool was not the four-letter word I was thinking of.

Lana:       You really should think more critically about these things, Matt. And you know what, there are some clubs that have a 90-day provision. If you’d like, since you enjoy SHIT-C so much, we can extend you 90 days at the same low price you signed up for. Our two-for-one special of just $60 per month plus applicable taxes and fees.

Matt:         Let me think about that for just a moment. (Pause) NO. This is highway robbery. This is an unethical way of doing business. Can you look into waiving this 60-day cancellation provision of yours? It’s not as if you need 60 days or even 60 minutes to turn off my membership in your system.

Lana:       Let me check on that for you.  (One moment later.) No, we can’t do that because of Reason 13-C.

Matt:         And what’s 13-C?

Lana:       13-C says that it wouldn’t be fair to all the other members we roped…er, had to pay an additional two months.

Matt:         Listen, I don’t think any other member would even know about this if you just refuse to tap my credit card two more times. Besides, why would they even care?! I wouldn’t if I were in their position.

Lana:       That’s quite magnanimous of you, Mr. Goldberg, but we simply can’t allow you to quit us and subject yourself to an inferior club.

Matt:         Huh? Is that Reason 17-A?

Lana:       No, 18-D. Is there anything I can help you with today?

Matt:         Yes, please help me understand this. I honored my contract for the full two years. When my wife didn’t use SHIT-C, I didn’t complain. When other clubs had much better deals, I didn’t try to renegotiate terms. I even approached you, not vice versa, in an effort to renew. So, this is how you reward me for fulfilling my contract?

Lana:       I don’t understand.

Matt:       No, I guess not. And can I ask you this, Lorna?

Lana:       Lana. Yes, one more thing.

Matt:      If instead of trapping people for another 60 days or more, did it ever occur to you and the others at SHIT-C that they may truly retain more members if they didn’t either assume renewals or trap them into partial renewals? (Silence.) No? And what if your club actually contacted me to ask for my renewal a few months ago? That may have made a differ…

Lana:    Mark, you’re starting to ramble a little here. As someone concerned about your welfare, you sound like you’re stressed out. When you return from the weekend, please accept our great offer of buy-one, get one personal training sessions with our best trainer. Since you say you’re only staying for 60 more days, I’ve scheduled you for Monday mornings at 7 am for the next eight weeks. And it works out to half-price for all eight sessions — just $320 total. Isn’t that cool?   Matt? Matt? Well, it wouldn’t be fair to you if I didn’t give you the same offer as we extend to the other members of SHIT-C. Besides, it’s Clause 24-C. (silence) Mark? Mark? You sound overwhelmed by our generosity. See you bright and early Monday.



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