I watch Community, NBC’s Thursday night 8 p.m. offering starring Joel McHale. (Learned to love him on E!’s The Soup.) Anyway, a few weeks ago there was an episode called Contemporary American Poultry. It was a send up of every mafia movie ever made. Hysterical, really. In this episode, the cast of misfits take over the cafeteria and start “dealing” chicken fingers. They control the supply, so they become kingpins on campus. It was a brilliant idea, but one I thought was a little far-fetched — until yesterday night.
I walked into the 7 p.m. Monday spin class I like to take. I usually get there close to 7, and don’t have many options when it comes to choosing my spot. I couldn’t complain, though. At least I always get a spot. On Sunday I go to the gym and fork over $2 for one of ten prepaid spots to make sure of it. It’s my only option since I can’t be there at 6 p.m. on Monday when the list comes out for free sign ups.
Okay, so again, despite the fact that I shell out cash every week, I usually get stuck at the back of the room. Sure, I am saddened and a little angry that all the good bikes have been reserved by the time I arrive, but what can I do? This week, however, I got there at 6:40 and what did I find? Someone had tied strips of paper towels around the handles of all the good bikes. There was only one person in the room. I was mad. I was yet again going to end up at the back of the room sweltering; away from the fans or the door. I started thinking about all the other Mondays when, without fail, the “owners” of reserved bikes trickled in slowly sometimes at or even after 7 p.m. It became clear to me at that moment: They weren’t the ones who were reserving the bikes. Someone else was doing it for them, which is against club rules.
The people are the lucky seven or eight who last night I dubbed the spin bike mafia. After talking to people as they came into the room, watching who they talked to and hearing their “thank yous,” I figured it all out. One girl — the equivalent of the bag man — gets there early and reserves all the bikes. She even reserves extras. (Last night, for example, two prime bikes went unused for the entire class, their white paper towels flapping in the fan breeze.) Incidentally, only one or two of the reserved bike beneficiaries pay $2 on Sunday. Most have freebie reservations, which are also handled on Monday night by the bag man — err, girl.
Once I talked it through, I was boiling mad. I did something that I never thought I’d do. I removed the paper from one of the prime location bikes and got on. When the bag girl got to the room I could tell she was mad, but she didn’t say a word because she knew she didn’t have a leg to stand on. Reserving spots is a big club no-no. Besides, the girl who she was saving it for waltzed in at 7:03. According to club rules — once the class starts you lose your bike even if you’ve paid for your spot — she would have lost it anyway. I guess she figured, being part of the bike mafia, she was afforded a little extra time.
At the end of the class I decided that I needed to take down the bike mafia so I went to talk to the club manager. I laid out the situation. The bike holding. The fact that, as a paying attendee, I shouldn’t have to be stuck with the one old bike (it’s happened) that’s smack in the middle of the room. The fact that paper towels should not be used to hold bikes. That people should be in the gym if they want to reserve a bike. He listened and he agreed. He said he’s going to implement a new system for the ten people who sign up ahead. You pay for a spot, you reserve a specific bike. Sweet!
On Community, the episode ended with the chicken finger mafia being dismantled. Everyone went back to being regular schlubs. I don’t know if that’s going to happen to the spin bike mafia. They may just decide to get there extra early on Sunday and reserve their spots. And I’m okay with that. No matter what happens I’m sure they are not going to be thrilled. I’m sorry about that. I really like them as people. They are nice. They are fun to ride with. Almost all of them were right with me during my last pregnancy. But enough is enough. All is fair in love and (gym) wars, right?
How’s your week going? What’s your take on the spin bike mafia?