The Worst First Day Ever
I don’t know exactly what he did.
At the last minute and 2 weeks before my last semester of college, the friend who had gotten me the cushy and sweetly paid internship position that awaited me where he also worked, got fired from said employment…
Apparently for something severe enough to also “fire me” from my upcoming position. I found myself in a pickle.
Left with 2 weeks until the start of the semester, the same time until when my internship was supposed to start and… no internship. And no prospects either.
Emailing my advisor, more than a little unhappy that in a flash I had gone from a well-paid 40 hour a week for 15 weeks internship, working with a friend, and living rent-free at my parents house while doing so… to invariably what was going to be an unpaid internship for those 15 weeks of 40 hours each, plus having to find a place to live and rent to pay when such was found…
Yet, I was grateful at least I wasn’t out on my ass. He gave three options, all central to my college and my where I currently lived.
One was somewhere I don’t remember except that it wasn’t even an option in my head.
The second was at a YMCA in the area. Having had one of the worst possible ‘field experience’ internships, (an 8 hour a week for 15 weeks pre-requisite for doing the full internship) at one of the local YMCAs, which actually resulted in the school no longer placing people at that YMCA (maybe a story for another time), that option wasn’t too appealing.
The third option looked like that was going to be the one I had to go with. Mainly because I wasn’t driving the 7 hours to do a visit and see if it was worse than a YMCA.
Also because I couldn’t possibly fathom how it could be worse than what I had already experienced at a YMCA last semester.
My advisor contacted and I was in. I found a place to stay and rent short term and there it was.
Day 1 is both my ‘interview’ and the first day I am starting.
I pull into the parking lot of a very large, very old looking brick building. The logo that looks like it was made before television, sitting atop a font that looks like it discovered fonts, is displayed on an entry awning that looks like it used to be maroon but is now the new Crayola color, ‘sad brown red’ from the years, sun, and sadness.
It doesn’t look broken down and like it had been beaten with a baseball bat like the YMCA had looked, but to simply call it dated would be like calling 2020, only a little inconvenient.
If this building were a man, it would be “Vince (and don’t call him Vincent).”
The 60-year-old who was ripped when he was in his 20's and maybe 30's, likely from too much steroid use, and it has been a steady decline ever since. But he is still in great shape for 60 and wouldn’t look bad if he dressed for his current physique and age, but he insists on dressing like he is both still 40 and still ripped, but all you see is the horrendous tan and saggy old man nipple out the side of his tank top that is both too small around his midsection and too loose on his chest and shoulders at the same time.
I walk through the front doors and we go from dated as an understatement and “Vince” I described above, to transported directly into the late 70s or early 80s. Both in aesthetic as well as the equipment, fixtures, format, etc. All it is missing is the shag carpeting.
My nose is met with, and when I say met with, I mean punched right in the fucking nose with a combination of chlorine, gold bond, and Depends.
Trying not to look like I was just caught with an unexpected straight left to the face and absolutely not succeeding, I greet the front desk.
Behind it stands a female around my age, who absolutely does not fit in with the theme, tone, and atmosphere for the 1970's fitness porn set that just sucker punched me.
I tell her I am there to see June.
She has me sit in a lobby chair that no doubt has remnants of gold bond left from some pair of commando gym short wearing geriatric. I wait.
I rise, checking the butt of my jeans for white powder as June calls me into her office, which sits next to a weird living room looking waiting room area with couches, a large TV, and a rather old man sitting there like Al Bundy with the remote.
Turns out later that his name is “Red” though he cant remember how he got the nickname, and he is a staple of the “Silver Sneakers who sit on the couch and watch TV workout-er” group. (And he is actually super cool and friendly with great stories. He is one of the incredibly few things I miss about there.)
June seems rather pleasant and not 70's porn-y in any way. We don’t spend a ton of time going over my internship responsibilities as the full list includes…
- Show up.
- Answer questions, if appropriate.
Optional responsibilities include, maybe being on time as long as it isn’t an inconvenience for me to do so, not doing or learning a whole lot.
Next step is a tour of the facility.
Locker Room History
I am wholly and entirely unprepared for what awaits.
Up until this point, my gym experience has been…
- The literally and actually from the 70's bodybuilding era in every way “old man gym” in the town I grew up in that had nothing except equipment from the 70's, pictures of Arnold and Franco Columbo strewn about the top parts of the walls, and only one men’s bathroom that was just a sink and a urinal. If you were a woman, tough luck. If you had to take a shit, you had to go elsewhere or be willing to go in the sink or urinal and not wipe. There were no locker rooms. This place was blood, sweat, iron, injuries, and no fucks given. I wish I was older and smarter when I went there.
- A gym in the next town over that was the wannabe “gym plus recreational center hybrid” that almost succeeded at being so. It had basketball courts where we played basketball and if the games weren’t good, did some lifting. The locker rooms were comically far away from everything else. You literally had to go through the cardio room aka sea of treadmills and ellipticals, walk through the group exercise room (yes, you read that correctly — through), go down a flight of stairs into the basement, walk down a hallway to which you were passing the day care and babysitting room, and then end up at the locker room. It made absolutely no sense in any way. Needless to say, I never went into the actual locker rooms.
- The Gold’s Gym where I met the initially mentioned friend, which while not as beautifully archaic as the first gym I mentioned, was largely a younger aged demo, mostly male but not all. The average age of members there was well under 40, if not closer to 30. The locker rooms were small and no one fucked around in there. No eye contact, did your thing in as little time as possible, no BS, straight business.
- Then the aforementioned YMCA in Erie. I spent my time there doing nothing, browsing Facebook, or working out. Also never venturing into the locker rooms as I was privy to staff only areas. The one time I had to #2, I did it in a drawer of my supervisor’s desk because she had no right being in any position of authority, anywhere. Just kidding unfortunately. I actually never pooped there, even once.
My Previous “Worst Locker Room Experience”
One time at the Gold’s Gym, I popped the biggest pimple of my life in front of one of the locker room sink’s mirrors. I had named it Josh, after my elementary school arch-nemesis, who previously had been the most annoying entity I’d ever met.
Pimple Josh was enormous, irritating, and right at the spot where my waistband sat and as a result was the bane of my existence for a while.
During a mid-workout pee break for me, poop break for my workout partner, finally frustrated with the constant pain and rubbing, without thought I took the thumb, pointer, and middle fingers of each hand to attempt to pop it and end it’s and my misery.
The requisite explosion, bursting with the passion of a fiery sun… and by that, I mean a rocket launcher shotgun hybrid, was loud enough, along with my high pitched yelping scream, for my workout partner to yell from the stall as he finished #2ing, “What the fuck was that noise?!”
He exited the stall to see the carnage.
A projectile puss and blood infused missile had been the noise. That of which 60–70% was Peter North’ed all over the mirror as if it were some young starlet’s face.
And 30–40% of it had shot actual me in the face, directly in the forehead. Splattering an inch or so above my right eye, on my face that had been tilted down watching the main event fight, My Six Fingers vs Pimple Josh.
The pain that shot through my lower abdomen combined with the shock of how much had exited me, and the velocity and veracity of which it had exited me, combined further with the sheer terror that that awful splooge almost went into my fucking eye, left me stunned.
Yet immediately grateful I was only cleaning my forehead and a mirror, and not my eye.
The size of my load that day is still talked about in Gold’s Gym folklore.
The Tour-Part I
All this to allude to, if you haven’t noticed, I didn’t have any experience at all with “big box” gym locker rooms.
Nor gyms to which the average age of the members was 107.
To start this tour, June showed me the sea of cardo equipment which was the first thing you saw when you past the front desk.
It was surrounded by a track which of course for no reason at all, was 1–2 inches up from the ground. Not on the ground. So 39 times a month, a member, typically of the aging variety, would trip entering or exiting that area.
The next stop was the pool area, which was only accessible through each gender’s locker room. She told me how to get there once in the locker room, and we parted ways as the women’s locker room was further down than the men’s locker room.
My unsuspecting ignorance walks into the locker room thinking it will be like the Gold’s Gym locker room — not that big and all business.
How fucking wrong I was.
Quite honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been more wrong about anything in my life.
Here is some “insider” knowledge. Sometimes in memoir-esque story style structure such as that which I am writing, authors use a little (though still honest) exaggeration and embellishment for comedic effect. While, I am a little too ‘on the spectrum’ for doing much, if any, of that in general, this particularly, is not one of those times as the reality needs no such thing.
Underbags and Captain Morgan
Without hyperbole — I shit you not, the first thing I see as I round the two corners required to enter the locker room is an at least 80 year-old man completely bent over as far as his ‘cant quite touch his toes wrinkly ass self’ can muster.
My eyes travel from the towel spread across the floor, which his feet stand on the outside of. His stance wider than is necessary for anyone with any kind of hip mobility.
To his untoned, yet fully stretched to their absolute maximum calves and hamstrings, up to his fully spread asshole, underbag backbag saggy balls hanging, loose skinned man boobs resting on his old, fucking, chin.
Attempting to divert my eyes as quickly as I can snap my fucking neck, I turn and see a 50ish year-old man sitting in a towel on a bench and a slightly older man standing with one leg on the ground and the other foot on the bench like he’s fucking Balls Out Captain Morgan…
Towel slung over his shoulder, saggy balls and fucking horse cock dangling, not a foot from the face of the other man sitting next to him.
If he desired, there was no doubt we could knock the seated man unconscious with a quick snap of his hips.
If this had actually been a porn set from the 70’s, he could have been the male lead.
Barely 27 seconds in this saggy balled, horse-cockian hell hole, I’ve seen more old man testicles than I have cumulatively in my life prior to entrance.
While the sample size of flaccid penis that I’ve seen that are not my own is not large, Balls-Out Horse-Cock Captain Morgan is the champion. (2021 Update — He still is.)
My initial concern from June’s description had been that not only do you have to go through the locker room to get to the pool, but the transition from the locker room to the pool were the showers.
Having been scarred before I even got to the showers, I was concerned. But the showers at that moment just consisted of two average dicked, unsaggy balled, middle-aged men.
Never in my life had I been grateful at the opportunity cost’s which result was two naked middle-aged men.
But hey, I’ve fallen from no rent, sweetly paid internship, to a last minute with much rent, unpaid internship… Why not add all the saggy balls, bent over old man asshole, and horse cockian misery to it.
I exit the showers and locker room, with a look that must have told June what I had just witnessed with no words.
Without my saying anything, she simply says, “Yeah, I hear it can get pretty bad in there.”
Not wanting to even fathom what she could possibly say to explain exactly what she meant, I just nod or shake my head in trauma, I am not 100% sure which I ended up doing and we move on.
The Tour-Part II
We exit the locker room and continue the tour. Upon exiting an attractive, dark curly haired middle-aged woman, who apparently must work there, angrily trudges past us with cleaning towels and some kind of cleaning solution in a spray bottle.
June attempts to introduce us for a split second but looks on as Annette takes her towels and cleaning solution to the “Core Room” or more specifically, the seated weighted torso twist machine in said room.
Apparently in addition to being a lumbar disc and lower back destroyer, the torso twist machine can also make one void their bowels.
When I say void their bowels, I mean the seat looked like the guy, in very recent history had taken a shit, not wiped, and then sat on the machine… while naked?
Or that 3/4 of a Baby Ruth had been left under a heat lamp.
A deep, thick streak that looked akin to a child swiping their completely chocolate, slightly peanut covered hand across the seat.
One could possibly question what it was.
Except there was no question from the stench.
A stench which had now evolved to a combination of chlorine, Depends, gold bond, and straight feces. We we were not looking at chocolate.
“Hooray first day!” June sardonically can barely get out.
Immediately concerned that the task of cleaning it will be delegated to “the intern”.
But alas, I was spared as Annette cleaned it as we continue the rest of the tour.
The rest ends uneventfully even though the experience has already been eventful on a ‘wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t live it’ level.
I spend the last 7.5 hours of my 8 hour shift, doing what I mainly did during all 15 weeks of those shifts. Sat at my makeshift desk that sat right after the track inside the sea of cardio equipment, waiting for people to ask me questions or for help, which no one did.
My primary task being the initial witness and first responder when people tripped coming onto or leaving the track.
I repeated this for 15 weeks, though I was allowed to workout during those times. The locker room experiences were fairly similar on the daily. Horse Cock Captain Morgan walked around as if he owned the place. Old man naked bent to the floor for odd reasons.
I was also introduced to… “Shave his head while completely naked, balls resting on the rim of the sink” guy and “naked pretty much all the time” guy.