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December 5, 2012

Heroic Effort

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/heroic_effort/

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$0 Initiation Fee

I'm amazed by stories of heroism. I caught a snippet on the local news about a three year old boy who saved his grandma's life by calling 911. “That little boy is a hero,” said ABC 7 General Assignment Reporter, Robert Holguin.

Heroes sometimes save lives. Sometimes heroes do less. Other heroes are unsung, like me negotiating a special rate for my company at the local gym.

It's a simple story of a company moving into a new office in the financial district of Pasadena with a prime view of the gym. From the street level you can easily see the tushes through the glass grinding on the elipticals. For months, all I was lifting were buffet trays next door at Souplantation. After enough crouton salads and potato soups, I kicked myself for not spending my time better.

I felt that my coworkers would feel the same as me. I continually see how many gush over cupcakes and eat more than one cookie when no one is looking. I would present my work friends with a convenient lunchtime/after work alternative and do so at a better rate than ordinary gym members. My co-workers would find it in their hearts to respect me as someone looking out for their best interests.

My name would be brought up casually in a 10AM meeting. “That Steingart is a real company man.”

I phoned the gym and spoke to Ernie telling him that I received a lot of interest from co-workers about joining the gym. “Six people are committed and we are hiring like crazy.” I explained. “Knowing we'll be funneling all this new business your way, is there anything you can do for us?” I asked.

“I can waive the initiation fee, no problem,” replied Ernie.

“That sounds good, but it would really help if we can get a break in the price, especially if many of my co-workers would need to leave the gyms near their homes and switch to yours.”

“This is the best I can do,” said Ernie. “It's a corporate policy that is beyond me.”

A few more phone calls with Ernie resulted in the same answer. Per Ernie's request, corporate emailed me and explained that the gym would waive the initiation fee if our company committed to a finacial sponsorship.

“When I spoke with Ernie there was no mention of a company sponsorship. The only way I would even feel comfortable approaching my company about a sponsorship would be to lower our monthly fee.” I made clear.

Corporate agreed to move forward waiving our initiation fee. I ducked my head into cubicle after cubicle announcing the good news with a smile. I shook hands with esteemed colleagues and hugged and kissed my girlfriend. As a final declaration, I sent an office wide email stating that we as a company shall join the gym intiation free for 30 days! Never before was I so tempted to end an office email with “Booya!”

A moment later a representative from management responded to the company via email. “I know that this company is a bit shady in their membership contracts. If you cancel in advance you're going to get hit with a negative mark on your credit rating. Be careful what you sign,” he warned.

“Shit, shit, shit.” I kept saying over and over in my head.

With my heroic status in jeopardy I decided to bring Ernie into the office. I figured the six who had initially committed and others on the fence would surely join after hearing Ernie's pitch.

“Ernie's here!” I shouted.

Two people came into the small conference room. “I heard something about a credit rating being affected if I cancel early. Is that true?” asked Jessica.

Ernie began to sweat. “Boy, is it hot in here.”

“I'll grab the others interested in joining,” I said to save the day.

Ernie led myself and four of my female co-workers on a private tour of the gym. Ernie showed me the men's the locker room, a stuffy, carpeted, dong filled space. “Let's see the rest of the gym,” I requested.

We saw the 2nd floor filled with elipticals and free weights in addition to a studio space. “That's cool that there are so many free weights,” I said trying to impress the group.

“Is there towel service?” asked Michelle.

“Towels cost extra,” replied Ernie.

We ran up to the third floor to see the many stationary bicycles and leg presses. Ernie led us back down and into his office. I was the only one in his office as the rest of the group stood outside. I couldn't figure out what everyone else was doing.

“Are you guys ready to sign up?” asked Ernie.

Almost in unison the girls said, “I'm good for now, thanks.”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Yes,” they said walking away.

So far one other person besides me has signed up. She claims she was overcharged. However, I like the gym fine. I'm getting in shape. My main workout routine is speeding past Ernie when I walk through the entrance. For the rest of the company, I'm negotiating a special rate at Souplantation.

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