However, because I anticipated some of the uncomfortable situations that might arise if I went to my normal gym, I decided to take the opportunity to use a guest pass for a different gym that I had been carrying around for a while.

When I entered the gym, I completely ignored the polite greeting by the front desk staff and just slid the guest pass across the glass without saying a word. I was directed to a membership consultant in a small office and when the gentleman who introduced himself as “Mike” extended his hand to shake mine, I said that I was getting over a cold and didnt want to give it to him by shaking his hand. Mike thanked me, but from the way he looked at me, it seemed to me that he didnt seem to believe me and immediately assumed I was some sort of weirdo. Mike explained that the guest pass would allow me to use the gym for the day and he asked me to sign a liability waiver. Instead of complying, I asked why I had to sign it.

Mike replied that it was “required by corporate” and that I couldnt use the gym unless I signed it. Since I would have had to leave otherwise, I did sign it, but by then I was almost too uncomfortable to bother working out.

Once I was in the gym, I immediately encountered another uncomfortable situation when someone asked me to “spot” him on an exercise, meaning to help him get the weight off the rack and then assist him complete his last repetition if he couldnt do it himself.

“Spotting” is a universal part of gym etiquette and declining to do so is the rough equivalent of not shaking someones hand. I couldnt bring myself to just say “no” without any explanation at all, but I did fulfill my experimental objective my politely explaining that I had an injury to my shoulder. Initially, that solved the problem, but a few minutes later, the guy asked me what was wrong with my shoulder and I think it was pretty obvious that I was lying, because of the way that I stammered to come up with an answer, finally saying that I hurt it playing tennis, unconvincingly, Im sure. Nothing else required me to resist until my workout was over, but I was almost as relieved to get out of that gym as I had been to leave the restaurant earlier.

Just as I thought I was in the clear, a woman holding a small child dropped a water bottle right in front of me while holding the door open for me. Every bone in my body wanted to pick the bottle up for her, but I simply walked out the door without even saying “thank you” for holding the door for me. By the time I got home, I never felt more like a jerk in my life. It was all I could do not to return to the restaurant and tip the waitress, but I decided to wait until tomorrow..


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