Grandma Is An Active Person And Bought Gym Equipment
"I’m a bit older (I’ve got grandkids in high school, let’s put it that way.) So I’ve been especially cautious about staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Part of that has, unfortunately, meant indefinitely cutting out my regular trips to the gym. So I invested in a couple pieces of equipment for my house. I’d purchased them from a local fitness retailer who I’d selected in part because of their generous warranty and repairs agreement."
Machine Breaks, So She Goes Into The Store
"But then, one of the machines broke. I called them up and all of a sudden, they were a lot more difficult to get on the phone than they were during the sales process.
Wouldn’t commit to a repair date, technicians never in, customer service always putting me on hold for ridiculous amounts of time even though it was a small local store, just endless. Finally, I decided to go over and sort it out in person.
At this point, our state was only just beginning to open up, so things like fitness equipment stores weren’t seeing a surge of foot traffic yet, and I was surprised to find about a dozen cars parked in the lot. Mostly lifted trucks and jeeps with punisher stickers and similar embellishments.
I figured that made sense for the kind of clientele whose first order of business after a nationwide shutdown would be to get to the gym equipment store. I didn’t really think much else of it at the time."
When She Goes In, People Start Acting Weird
"I was just coming from a full morning of (Zoom) meetings so I was wearing business appropriate attire. Dress pants, pearls, knit turtleneck, the works. I came in and saw a line of buff, meaty guys lingering around near a counter, looking as though they’d also just come from work, and figured they too were waiting to talk to customer service.
They looked surprised to see me, but I figured it was because most old people are staying put right now if they can help it. I gave a polite wave and otherwise kept my distance.
After a few moments, I realized the employees were calling the buff meaty guys by name and taking them into a back office to deal with their concerns, and I figured it was a social distancing measure. So I went over to a guy wearing a store uniform calling names and asked, 'Excuse me, do I have to take a ticket or get my name on a list or something?'
He seemed surprised too, but again, I chalked it up to age. He said to wait a minute. I asked if I should get started on any paperwork (a lot of the other guys were filling things out, and I figured they were claims related to repairs or other information I’d need to provide to expedite the process) but he just kept insisting I wait there."
She Starts Getting Pointed Remarks From The Employees
"Meanwhile, a more senior guy kept surfacing every few minutes calling for people to talk to him in the back, but then the more junior guy pulled him to the side and pointed me out. I waved.
The more senior guy came over and asked 'Hi Ma’m are, uh, are you sure you’re in the right place?' And I replied, 'Oh, definitely, I’ve been planning to come down here all week.' And he said, 'Alright, then, we can chat right now. You want to come on back, you ready?'
The beefy guys were exchanging some puzzled looks, but I thought it was because I was jumping the queue. I assumed they were prioritizing me because I was at the highest risk. I said, 'Oh, that’s sweet of you, but most of these men were here before me. I’m fine to wait. Why don’t you give me any requisite paperwork to take care of in the meantime?'"
They Take Her To Have A Suspicious Discussion In The Back, And She Proves Herself Worthy
"But he just shook his head, going, 'Well, before you fill anything out, why don’t we talk first?' And off we went. I sat down in a small back office, across from these two men at a desk. It seemed like quite the to-do over scheduling a simple repair, but, I figured this was life in the 'new normal.'
So they looked at each other as though neither quite knew what to say, and I’m thinking, 'Is this both their first day on the job? Let’s get on with it here.'
Finally, the more senior one cautiously ventured, 'So... do you have a lot of experience with the specificities, inner-workings, and maintenance of gym equipment?'
Now I’m thinking they’re trying to find reason to put me at fault and void my warranty or otherwise upsell me, so I shoot back the curt but truthful answer, 'I’ve been working out every day for longer than at least one of you has been alive. I can look at any model on your floor and tell you what they do, why, and which features are necessary versus which features are just extra flash designed to line your pockets, and I definitely know a working machine from a broken one so I don’t even know why this discussion is necessary. Just tell me what information you need, I’ll sign what I need to sign, and let’s get this taken care of.'"
They Start Asking Really Strange Questions
"The more senior guy folded his hands on the desk and went, 'Alright, listen, I’m sure you’re very experienced and do know your way around but... ok, listen, how old are you?'
There was no universe in which he needed that information to get a repair tech to my house. I was really and truly lost at that point. Was he coming onto me? Was he insinuating there was no use in fixing my machine because I’d be dead soon enough anyways?
'WHAT? What could that possibly have to do with anything? You have no right to ask me that.' The more junior guy whispers 'Hey, yah, I don’t think you’re legally allowed to ask that.' So, that’s when it all starts to click for me.
The senior guy (in rank only, he couldn’t have been a day over 30) put his hand up in a 'shut up' gesture to his partner and continues, I can’t tell if he’s trying to walk back his earlier statement or double down on it, going 'It’s just that, when the clients come in, they’re going to have a much easier time trusting someone who looks like them. So, it’s not even so much about age than that you’re a woman.'
The junior guy gasps, in pained dismay, 'Bro, no—' and turns to me, switching into professional mode from night to day in an instant, 'What my colleague meant to convey is that we are targeting a certain demographic, and...' He ran out of buzzwords with that sentence alone."