citizen’s arrest

I wasn’t even going to go to the gym that night. I mean, I was originally going to go, but then I stopped at home first, which is always a mistake. I got distracted, and soon decided it was just easier not to go to the gym at all.

But when the phone rang at 6:30, and it’s the CEO looking for a difficult report, I lie (yes, lie) and tell him that I’m at the gym but will work with the IT Department as soon as I get back. To make myself retroactively honest, I immediately hop on my bike and pedal to the island’s only gym, which includes a couple of treadmills, a couple of bikes, a bunch of black-and-silver automated weight-lifting machines, some barbells, and most importantly, one 45-lb bar. I repeat: one 45-lb bar – one – which is the equivalent of a Laundromat having only one washer: it’s in constant use, there’s always a line for it, and occasionally someone gets shot over it.

Further, it’s a universal rule of the gym world that whenever you use a bar, you’re supposed to re-rack your weights. Everyone knows this. Not everyone does this, but everyone knows this. And even if everyone didn’t know this, there are signs all over the gym that explicitly state this: re-rack all weights when finished. All you have to do is be able to read, and – while this is not always a given on the island – the “regulars” are now pretty good about running back to the bar and un-racking it whenever they see me coming. It was hard the first time, but by now, everyone is pretty good about cleaning up after themselves when I’m around.

But this night, when I walk in, there’s this new guy I’ve never seen before. He’s not bench pressing … he has the bar on the floor and he’s deadlifting, with pretty good technique, too, so I have to give him points for originality, but of course, this means he’s using the gym’s only bar, upon which he’s loaded a total of six 45-lb plates. It is not easy or fun to rack or unrack all those weights, so when I see it, I automatically think, “This better not be one of those times when he leaves it for me to do.”

While waiting for the bar, I busy myself with a workout involving a series of hand release pushups with a 200m run in between, but I’m keeping an eye on him, so I can use the bar when he’s done with it.

He does a bunch of deadlifts, then goes and does something else, then comes back, takes two plates off each side, and does some more deadlifts. It looks like he’s doing some sort of Deadlift/Other Exercise combo, and that he’ll keep coming back to deadlifts throughout his workout, so even though the bar’s just sitting there with two 45-lb weights on it in the middle of the floor where everyone can trip over it, I’m not about to just take his bar and start using it. That would be rude. I’d be pissed if someone interrupted my workout like that and stole my bar, so I continue to wait until he’s finished.

But after about 20 minutes or so, I start to get the idea that he’s in fact finished with the bar, and that he has no intention of ever putting it away. He’s just going to leave it there, for someone else (ME) to clean up, and I’m tired of getting stuck cleaning up after inconsiderate strangers. I’d never just leave my stuff around like that and expect someone to clean up after me, but for some reason, HE thinks it’s okay. (I guess bad parenting skills of an indulgent mother to be the culprit.)

To confirm my suspicions that this is going to be “one of those times,” he goes over to the corner where’s he stashed his stuff, slings his bag over his shoulder, and swaggers to the front door.

“Hey,” I call, but he doesn’t hear me and keeps walking. Except for the three lumpy Yoga ladies going one mile per hour on the treadmills, hanging onto the handles for dear life, we’re the only two people there. “HEY,” I say again. Nothing. He keeps walking, so I keep walking too, past the lumpy Yoga ladies who don’t have to be mind readers to know that I’m mad; they can just see the look on my face. Their eyes follow me curiously: ahhh, some excitement, finally!

He’s halfway to his truck by the time I make it out the front door. “Hey!” I yell. “Hey!” He finally turns around. “Are you done with your bar?” I say. It comes out nicer than I thought it would come out – just an innocent person asking an innocent question, except he’s out in the middle of a parking lot, miles away from the bar. It’s obvious that he’s done with it.

At first, he looks at me like he doesn’t know what I’m talking about, and then he remembers. “Oh, yeah, sorry,” he says, with a smile and a Southern drawl. “I was rude and just left it there for somebody else to put away.” He even admits it! This is the moment when his indulgent mother – charmed by her strapping son – would pick up his dirty clothes from the bathroom floor instead of insisting that he comes back and does it for himself, because, instead of coming back inside, he just keeps walking off to his truck.

I’m not his mother, nor am I charmed. “So you’re just going to leave it there?” I continue.

He turns around, not smiling anymore. Good, because neither am I. This is obviously the first time in his adult life that someone has followed him out into a parking lot and made him be accountable for his actions. “You want me to come back in and put it away?” he says incredulously, like I’ve just asked him to sacrifice his first born son.

“Yes,” I say, “That’s what I want you to do.” I’m kind of holding the door open for him, and I use this opportunity to gesture at it illustratively, like I’m Vanna White presenting the prize behind Door #3.

Now, I know. What’s the big deal. Just put away his stupid bar for him already. But when it’s happened as often as it’s happened, enough is enough. One last straw and the camel goes down, and this was it. And, I know that some girls could have sweetly pulled this whole thing off in a charming manner and probably have turned it into a dinner date, and there’s also the whole thing about catching more flies with honey, but 1) I am not one of those girls, and 2) who wants to catch flies? Flies are disgusting. Flies spit on your food every time they land on it, and I could not care less about charming some lazy person who admittedly leaves his sweaty crap around and expects other people to clean up after him. If he’s like this with the general public, imagine what he’s like in private.

We both kind of angrily walk back in and I drop down and do 10 more hand release pushups right next to the bench press rack (not because I’m monitoring him but because that’s where I’d done all my other pushups that night), so I just so happen to have a front row seat when he picks up the whole bar with the weights still attached to it, slams it onto the rack, and begins to walk away.

It would have killed him to finish the job?

“Hey, no problem,” I say, sarcastically. “I’ll just take care of the rest.”

“I’m SURE you can handle it,” he says, just as sarcastically, the big jerk.

“READ THE SIGN!” I say, and then I read him the sign just in case he doesn’t know how to read (a distinct possibility on this island): “RE-RACK YOUR WEIGHTS!” But this time I lose. He just keeps walking and doesn’t come back and I can tell that this conversation is over. I’m so mad that I’m having an out of body experience. I storm up to the front desk, past the twittering Yoga ladies, because THE FRONT DESK are the ones who should be doing the dirty work and not leaving it up to the Vigilante Society of One all the time, but are they? No.

Three girls are standing there, and with a 3-to- 5 worker/member ratio you’d think they’d have their place under a little more control, but do they? No, they’re just chitchatting and gossiping, and it takes them a few seconds to finish their very important conversation about NOTHING and realize that I’m standing there forcefully staring at them. “THAT GUY IS A COMPLETE JERK!” I say, pointing out at the complete jerk who was now getting into his truck, having the exact same thought about me, no doubt.

They strain their necks to see who I’m talking about, and then all kind of talk at once. “Who, Matt?” says Paulette. “He stopped coming for a while and now he’s back.”

“Why, what did he do?” said the second one. “I saw you go out there and wondered what was going on but I just thought you were friends with him.”

I tell them what happened.

“How rude,” says Paulette. “You’re always supposed to rack your weights. Everyone knows that.”

“You actually went after him and made him come back in?” says the second. “Good for you! I never really liked him either.”

“You’re my new hero,” says the other one. “He’s a cop!”

Crap. He’s a cop? Not that I would have acted any differently had I known. What does he think, that he’s above the law? But, here’s the thing: the island only has about two cops, and while I wouldn’t normally worry about running into him, since I’m not involved in criminal activity, unfortunately, almost nobody else on the island is involved in criminal activity either. So, there’s not a whole lot for the two of them to do except sit alongside the road and wait to pull you over for going 56 in a 55 mph speed zone, and everyone knows how easy it is to go 56 in a 55. Considering that I drive the island’s only bright yellow jeep with four big headlights on top, which makes me easily recognizable from a mile away, you can pretty much guess how this is going to end for me: with points.

The good thing is that my jeep wasn’t there that night. I was on my bike, so he doesn’t yet know what I drive. Give it time, though, give it time. I can’t be riding around on my bike forever.

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6 Responses to citizen’s arrest

  1. dave says:

    Alas you are not alone. Akin to your reaction to this uncouth behavior I act without hesitation and speak directly to the culprit(s) and state the obvious in that he/they remove the weight and rack the bar. I am momentarily relegated to an act of parenthood. To date this approach has been effective and without fail. Most apologize for their behavior and begin the task. It is the remaining few that are steadfast on testing my resolve with a full-on gaze as they too begin the task. For those that immediately apologize for their behavior I assist them in this task and then thank them for their understanding. But for those remaining few that are intuitively “life-challenged” I square off and engage in the all-out stare-down as if competitors in high-stakes chess match.

    I applaud you for your aggressive stance. And I enjoy reading your posts. You have an almost inimitable and explicit manner in which you transcribe your thoughts.

    • staceyfonas says:

      I think you’ve applauded too early. That part was easy; now comes the hard part. I showed up yesterday and the girl at the front desk whispered, “He’s here, don’t go back there,” so I didn’t. I went upstairs. I could hear him clanking around his weights the entire time. Unlike me, you sound like you’re very good at getting people to do what you want them to do in a noble manner that doesn’t piss them off and doesn’t end up with you ever having to deal with an awkward situation. If you did, however, find yourself having to deal with an awkward situation, I’d very much like to know how you’d handle it. I’m sure it would be better than my approach.

  2. dave says:

    I am quite certain that the following will be nothing more than a rehash of that which is known. Nevertheless posting it may incite other followers to share their thoughts. And I apologize for the elongated post.

    Each situation is unique and requires a slightly different tactic. However, what is constant is an assessment of the level of danger and an assessment of how the other party responds to a very direct and to the point request – borderline command. The other night I was dining at a restaurant when the table of 8 across from us began drinking alcohol and then began raising their voices to a level that was annoying to other diners. I looked over at one of the men with a glare in the anticipation that he/they would “connect-the-dots” and acknowledge that it was their behavior that is my basis for such a glare. He proceeded to call out to me “I have a joke for you.” That was my trigger. Without hesitation and in no uncertain terms I advised him that I am not interested in him or his joke or this dialogue we were having and that this conversation is over. During this brief exchange the other diners in close proximity became eerily silent and morphed into concerned onlookers. Then all was fine. I use this same glare for the inconsiderate people that converse on a cell-phone in establishments where one would think that common-sense should prevail – and modify the words to fit the situation.

    In your situation it is undeniable that you were within the “jurisdiction” as a member of the facility to request that said member abide by the policy CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF. His uncouth behavior is troubling; however, we all acknowledge that most (not all) officers have an innate mentality of residing “above the law” prior to becoming an officer. This mentality is further embedded via officer training and subsequent officer status. The policy must be enforced by personnel and readily understood by its members in order to be effective and act as a backstop for truant behavior. Bothersome is the cautionary statement made by personnel that implies this member could/will act out toward you in an aggressive manner should you decide to approach his area. Try to refrain from engaging in any dialog on this topic with any of the personnel; however do listen and document that which they may communicate to you directly. Nevertheless it is their cautionary statement that is the basis for the following: avoidance is not a strategy or a solution – avoidance begets a premeditated state of erroneous power – avoidance is a precarious exercise in futility.

    And again I applaud you.

  3. lado says:

    typical high school ex-football glory days dbag gym meathead now johnny law. ur f’d. maybe he’ll dwi and get kicked off the po-po

  4. Pete says:

    *cough*MissYourUpdates*cough*
    I was in Salvo/Waves/Rodanthe last week and I looked for you/your-jeep without any luck. Are you still with Best in OBX?

    Hope you have something blog-worthy soon!

    • staceyfonas says:

      I’m still with Best, but I couldn’t sign up for another year of winter-in-the-OBX hell, so when my lease ran out, I moved to Vermont. Just drove down yesterday for the annual rep meeting and am here now though. Sorry I missed you! I’ve been neglecting my blog but will try to come up with something soon. Thanks for lighting the match!

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