STRIPPERS

Sauna sex, knife fights, drug deals, strippers, and more poop and pee than one cares to imagine. What sort of place is this? It's The Gym. 

I worked at The Gym for five years. When I decided to share these tales, I emailed a former member to ask what memories stood out for her. She said she knew why The Gym lost its 24/7 status: "Someone took a shit in the men's locker room. And it wasn't in the toilet." Was that the time the member couldn't make it to the bathroom in time? Because that was an accident. "No," she said. "It was a different time. A disgruntled member." Ohh! Was it the time someone took a shit in the urinal? "No," she said. "It was a different time." The time someone peed in the sauna?" "No," she said. "There was shit everywhere. It was disgusting."

How many "bathroom" stories exist? We're talking about The Gym. Too many ...

I had an easy first week at the front desk. Kent, the G.M., was a retired war veteran and a bodybuilder. If Corporate rolled out a new policy, we never heard about it. Kent wasn't that sort of manager. He had two rules: Show up. Do a great job. When the phone rang, he'd answer, "This is The Gym." No scripts. Ask a question, get an answer.

Downtime at the desk? We studied or read. The front desk was staffed mostly by law school students. They'd study for the bar or talk to members who were lawyers—sometimes obtaining an internship. They were paid to study with a benefit in the form of a free gym membership.

The Gym was a normal, quiet, happy place. Until Kent's friends showed up. They were bikers and bouncers from the strip club down the street. Oh, and he was friends with strippers, too. 

I'd been a member of The Gym for years prior to joining the staff, so I'd befriended Kent long before a stripper came in during my first Saturday shift asking for him. She needed "just ten bucks for a taxi home."

I called his cell. "There's a woman from the strip club asking for you. She needs money."

"Take ten bucks out of the cash register and tell her to fuck off." I gave her $10 and Kent's instructions. She thanked me, ran across the street to Starbucks and sat on the patio, drinking a strawberry frappuccino. The sun set, the front door swung open, and in she came, tearfully pleading to see Kent. She needed money. "For a taxi home."

"Do you remember me?" I asked. "You know, from like, three hours ago when you came in here and asked for money? And you got a strawberry frappuccino?"

She wept. She begged me to call Kent.

"She's back." I said. "And she needs money for a taxi."

Through laughter: "Tell that bitch to fuck off or you're calling the cops."

I relayed Kent's instructions. More tears. "How will I get home?" She asked to go upstairs to ask members for money, so I picked up the phone. She left. A moment later, a member left The Gym, and then returned to tell me there was a woman sobbing ... and peeing behind the Dumpster in the parking lot. 

Welcome to The Gym. It gets crazier.