How Should I Deal with a Gym Screamer? You Decide My Fate

My apartment complex officially has a screamer. At first I thought he was just a loud grunter, but yesterday he crossed the line from “possibly acceptable but annoying grunter” to “completely inappropriate, possibly psychotic, screamer.”

If I polled 1,000 people, I bet 999 of them would say it’s perfectly acceptable for someone to make grunting noises when he or she is working out at the gym. I agree. Some grunting when you’re lifting a lot of weight and trying to push through the end of an exercise is fine (even though I still think it’s unnecessary).

But if I polled those same 1,000 people and asked if it was acceptable for someone at the gym to scream “NO PAIN, NO PAIN” during every exercise while also doing psycho runs in between sets, I hope at least 999 of them would say it’s outrageously inappropriate.

What’s a psycho run? It’s a phrase I invented yesterday to describe what I saw as I entered our apartment’s gym: a tank top-wearing bro running laps around the gym literally shadow boxing in each corner of the room. Wait, isn’t shadow boxing when someone punches the air as if they’re boxing? If that’s true, then this guy wasn’t doing that. He was real boxing: actually punching the walls, including a yoga mat he had leaned up against one wall to act as his punching bag. He then proceeded with the “NO PAIN, PUSH IT, NO PAIN, PUSH IT” screams throughout the rest of his workout (not just when he was lifting a ton of weight…he also did it when he was simply doing regular sit ups).

Just to be crystal clear in my explanation, I’m not talking about someone who’s saying motivational phrases under his breath. I’m talking about someone who was screaming so loud that I couldn’t hear what was coming out of my headphones even though the volume was maxed out and I was 20 feet away from the screamer.

Also keep in mind that this is a gym at an apartment complex. It’s a room that’s probably smaller than most peoples’ living rooms. And of course it was just the two of us at the gym. Maybe I’m overreacting a little if I’m in a big gym surrounded by lots of people. At least then it would be easier to ignore the awkwardness. But in the context of our gym, it was a shocking experience.

So, readers, what should I do to address this problem? I’ve encountered this guy in my gym three times already. How do I get it to stop?

The Legendary ShitList Returns: Elevator Etiquette, Plane Deboarding Process, Socially Inept Adults

With the past six days being my college reunion/binge drinking/sleep deprivation vacation, I hardly feel like writing anything. And since I’m so overtired, the only thoughts going through my head are pissed off, negative ones. So what better time than now to rejuvenate an old favorite from my college blogging days…it’s time for Rmurdera’s ShitList.

What is a ShitList? Simply put: a list of pet peeves…things I currently hate or find obnoxious to the point of sending me on a profanity-laced tirade.

This week there are only three on the List:

3. Elevator Etiquette – How often do you try to get off an elevator and there’s a person trying to get on it who just barrels right into it without giving you a chance to exit? I swear this happens to me in seven out of every 10 elevator rides. It’s really ridiculous to have to explain to someone how the order of entering and exiting an elevator should go, right? Is it really elusive to some people that if you wanna get on an elevator and ride it somewhere, you need to let the person who’s already standing in the elevator off first? But here’s the thing: I don’t think people misunderstand these rules at all. I think most people are self-absorbed dickheads who are so wrapped up in their need to get somewhere quickly (or more likely mentally consumed by whatever is on their iPhone), that they lose all sense of being in a social environment where other people exist. I bet everyone who reads this and agrees that they’ve had people do this to them have also been culprits of doing it to others. Please do me a favor and when the elevator that you called for finally arrives, take two extra seconds to let the door completely open and see if there are people inside of it. If there are, I think you know what to do.

2. Going With the Flow in a Group Setting – Let’s say you were on vacation with a group of 10 people. And let’s say that at some point during this vacation the other nine people wanted to do something you didn’t really feel like doing…like maybe they wanted to play a board game. Wouldn’t you do one of two things—either suck it up and play the game, or go off quietly by yourself and read a book or watch a movie? Pretty logical I’d say. Or I’ll give you another scenario: You’ve suggested a game for the group to play and they’ve all agreed to play. But because it’s a large group, it’s naturally taking some time to organize everyone and get them all into the same room. Wouldn’t you show at least an ounce of patience and politely wait for them to finish what they’re doing? In both scenarios, “going with the flow” seems to be the right mantra. You know you’re in a large group and you can’t get your way exactly how you want it so a normal, well-adjusted person would simply go with the group flow. Apparently there’s a different school of thought that says if you don’t get your way you throw a tantrum and have a complete meltdown. I’m talking slamming doors, screaming at people, yelling that you “don’t tolerate stupidity,” and telling the group, “Now I know why they call them board games…because they’re fucking boring and you’re all a bunch of [expletive deleted] losers.” Seems like the type of person who should be isolated from the public, right? Or at the very least, someone who shouldn’t go on vacation with other people.

1). Plane Deboarding Etiquette – Since this might be slightly trickier than elevator etiquette, I’ll give the detailed breakdown (I’m being extremely sarcastic with that sentence. Plane deboarding is not trickier than getting on an elevator! It’s a simple “wait your turn” process.). When the plane has landed and the front door is open, you exit. But here’s the tricky part that most people don’t seem to grasp: You exit in an orderly fashion with Row 1 exiting first, then Row 2, then Row 3, and it progresses on a row-by-row basis from there. But aren’t there two Row 1’s, you might ask? Yes there are…one on the left side of the plane and one on the right side. Typically the rows are slightly staggered so that Row 1 on the left is slightly in front of Row 1 on the right. If that’s the case, then Row 1 left goes first. If they aren’t staggered, then each set of “competing” rows simply has to show some courtesy and decide who goes first. Sounds pretty straight forward, right? So why is this on my ShitList? Because people seem to think that since they are in an aisle seat and get to stand up in the aisle first when the deboarding begins, they can charge up the aisle and out of the plane ahead of the poor souls sitting in the window seats in rows ahead of them who haven’t had a chance to step into the aisle yet. There is nothing more frustrating to me than trying to get out of my row and into the aisle, only to have a bunch of assholes from the cluster of rows behind me trying to pass me. And when I say “assholes,” I’m talking about men, women, children, elderly people…anyone who does this move is a completely despicable human being. And no, men do not have to be gentlemen and let a woman go ahead of them if she’s out of order. There is no such thing as chivalry during the plane deboarding process. If you are with me on a plane and people start line-cutting like I described above, you better not get embarrassed easily because I love calling these people out and then “accidentally” ramming my carry-on bags into their legs as I follow them out of the plane.

Back to School: My First Relevant Learning Experience Since Diagramming Sentences 20 Years Ago

Have you ever seen someone so ready to rock their UCLA Extension writing class? Me neither. So what if the class was from 7-10pm…nothing was going to stop me from bringing my brown bagged lunch on day one (If you’re curious, the bag contained m&m’s, grapes and a lollipop. If only I would have stopped at Starbuck’s on my way to class to grab a hot chocolate, then my classmates would have really known they were dealing with a mature adult).

Since it was my first time in a classroom in more than seven years, I decided to actually pay attention and observe my surroundings. Here’s what I learned in week one:

-It was a strange sensation to sit in a three-hour class and not have my mind wandering to every topic besides what was being taught. Out of 32 undergrad classes at BU, I can’t recall more than four or five where I was actually paying attention to the content being discussed. That gives me hope that I’m finally enrolled in the right class.

-When I was last in school, Smartphones didn’t exist. Waiting for class to begin back in the old days of 2005, your only option for entertainment was to actually talk to people. Scary stuff. I feel bad for teachers mostly because it’s gotta be nearly impossible to hold 20 students’ attention for even an hour when every one of them has their iphone right next to their notebooks. Or it could be even worse, like the girl next to me who was using her laptop to “take notes,” but really was just doing silent video conferencing with her husband the whole time.

-But I did discover one huge benefit to having an iphone in this setting. Halfway through class, the teacher asked us to go around the room and introduce ourselves, including where we were from, what writing experience we have, what our favorite TV shows are, and why we decided to take the class. Of course you all know that in a group of 20, there’s going to be a couple people who decide to hijack the conversation, stretching their time to speak from two minutes to 10 minutes, deciding instead of answering the teacher’s questions to focus on their whole life story (if you don’t think you’ve been in a group of people where someone is doing this—whether it be school or work—then I’m happy to tell you that you are that person, and you should shut the fuck up sometimes). Anyway, to show these people that I was just about done with their story, I combined a shameless “whip out my iphone and pretend to be playing games” move with a loud throat clear, ensuring even the dumbest person understood the social cue.

-After hearing all these boring stories from my classmates, I was a little shocked to learn I was the only one who purposely quit his job, became unemployed and expected to make it as a writer before money runs out. Most people in the class think they’re going to have to work hard for years just to get noticed in the entertainment industry. Boy, are they clueless…

-The three-hour night class felt a little strange in that I was sober and it was a real class. The only night class I ever had at BU was called “Sports Management” where the most difficult task over an entire semester was creating a practice schedule for the fictitious sports team I was pretending to manage. And we usually went to the BU Pub and pounded beers before class. Now I show up sober with grapes and a canteen of water. So sad.

-The teacher totally validated himself in week one by showing us a New Girl episode at the end of class and then promptly tearing it to pieces. That’s how you get on my good side, which I’m sure was his goal all along.

-I hate to predict failure for any of my classmates, but I wonder if the woman who doesn’t own a TV, hasn’t watched a TV show in over 10 years, and claims not to have any time to practice writing is going to do well in a Television Writing course?

-If karma has a sense of humor, my teacher will pair me up with that woman for some kind of important project.

-Oh, and just for a comparison so everyone knows I haven’t changed a bit since the last picture of me going to school was taken, here you go:

God. Damn. I want that square knit tie back.

Watching Sports on Tape Delay: a Stressful and Chaotic Practice

Being able to listen to the Red Sox radio broadcast on WEEI through my iPhone is one of my favorite things about modern technology.  With the subscription, I can actually watch the Red Sox games on any of my devices, or if I happen to be in a situation where I can’t look at a screen, like when I’m driving, I can still listen to the game live.  So even though I was faced with the daunting task of driving the six hours back to San Francisco from LA by myself on Tuesday afternoon, I was excited that three of those hours would be spent listening to the Sox/Royals game. With the converter I use that plays audio from my iPhone over the car’s speakers, I was set.  A 16oz Red Bull, some beef jerky, a full sleeve of Sour Cream -n- Onion Pringles and the Red Sox game on my car radio… where’s the downside?

The downside was that I basically had to keep my hand on the radio’s volume knob for three hours in case WEEI wanted to interrupt the broadcast to update its listeners on the Celtics playoff game.  Over the course of the baseball game, I think WEEI did this four times.  Luckily I was ready each time and avoided hearing the score of the Celtics by immediately turning the volume down.  Other than almost hearing the score accidentally a few times, the other problem was that I had to dedicate one of my hands to the volume the whole time.  I was already one hand short because I kept getting my entire right arm stuck inside the Pringles container.  So I was basically driving up the 101 at 80 miles per hour steering with my knee.

The reason I had to censor the score updates is because I had the Celtics game taping on my DVR back at home.  Knowing I’d be in the car at the same time the C’s were trying to close out Atlanta, I wanted to avoid any exposure to the score so I could watch it later Tuesday night.  On top of the radio situation, I also had to avoid all text messages, phone calls and the urge to scroll through Twitter while driving.

While this was far from my first time doing the tape delay of a live sporting event, it really got me thinking.  Is it worth it to temporarily cut yourself off from the entire outside world because you want to watch a previously-played game as if it’s happening live?  Are some games acceptable to do this for while others are not?  Are you allowed to strangle someone if they happen to mention the score of the exact game you’re trying to avoid hearing about?  It’s a dangerous game we play when we try to create an alternate reality where a sporting event is “live” only when we’re ready for it to be live.

Like I said, I’ve been dealing with this conundrum for years.  Living in California makes it even more relevant because during the week, most games played by my Boston teams begin by 4 or 4:30, and unfortunately getting out of work early isn’t always an option.  So you do the whole song and dance of taping the game and telling all your coworkers that if they check on the score and happen to mention it to you, they’ll never see their families again.  And generally that works because people don’t want their loved ones to die, and because it’s just one hour or so that you have to avoid all spoilers for.

But what about those weekend days when a game starts at 1pm, but there’s just no way you can watch it until 7 or 8 that night?  How hard is it to avoid a spoiler in that situation?  On that kind of day, it’s not like you can sit in a dark cave shut off from the rest of the world until you’re ready to watch the game.  If that was the case, you’d be watching the game live.  No, on that weekend day you’re inevitably in a situation where you have to go for a hike with your girlfriend; or go apartment hunting because you decided on a whim to move 400 miles away.  So you’re out in the real world where all sorts of idiots can screw up the game for you. You somehow have to avoid the game being ruined by people who are around you as well as accidentally seeing the score on TV or hearing it on the radio.  It’s stressful to the point where you’re not even remotely enjoying whatever that other activity is that you got sucked into.  And then the person that made you participate in it gets pissed off because you’re ruining everyone’s day…and suddenly she wishes you had just stayed home and watched the game live.  (Hint: ruin enough of her Sunday hikes and brunches and she’ll never ask you to miss a game again)

There’s one other problem with this practice of taping the games.  This past Tuesday night I was taping the Celtics game to watch it by myself when I got home, but many times a group of us will decide to avoid seeing the score of a game, and we’ll all get together later in the night and watch the taped version.  So in theory you have three or four people who are all on the same page, having shut themselves off from all communication about the result of this game.  But then you start watching, and suddenly one of the guys is on his iPad screwing around. You warn him that if he sees the final score online, he better not say anything.  He doesn’t say anything, but the next thing you know the Celtics are down by seven points with three minutes left, and this guy is putting his shoes on and getting ready to leave.  Gee, I wonder if maybe you already know the Celtics’ comeback fell short if you’re walking out the door in silence as the game is still happening on my TV?  If you have that friend who really can’t commit to avoiding the result, just stop inviting him over for these delayed viewings because his body language will ruin the outcome for you every time.  It’s similar to when you tell your friend not to mention the score because you have it taped at home, and then he says, “ahh, I’ll save you some time, they got crushed tonight.”  He thinks he’s doing you a favor, but what he doesn’t know is that now you’re planning to get back at him by ruining something he really cares about, like his upcoming wedding.

My final take is that you cannot do the tape delay thing for the biggest games…The Super Bowl, The NCAA football and basketball championships, any championship games really.  These games are important enough that you should be watching live.  And you can’t do it everyday for regular season baseball, basketball or hockey games.  That’s just obnoxious to be avoiding the outcome of a game every single day. And you can’t do it for football on Sundays because then you miss the RedZone Channel and following your fantasy team live as the games are happening.  So really, the only appropriate time to watch games on tape delay is for early-round playoff games in all of the major sports.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go setup Game 6 of the Celtics/Hawks series to tape later tonight.

Who wants to feel a whole lot smarter today?

Just go ahead and read through these directions that I hijacked from a friend’s email.  You’ll feel a lot better about your intelligence level.

If the image is too small to read, click on it to enlarge

Call me sexist.  I don’t care.  This email would only ever exist between two women.  If one of my male friends ever asked me for this level of detail on directions, I would tell him he doesn’t deserve to visit the Academy of Sciences, and I would refuse to help.

Anyway, the only real reason for posting this is to point out that this was an email sent to a fully capable 29-year-old woman.  Not a six-year-old; not a mentally challenged person; not a caveman that was just recently unfrozen for the first time in 10,000 years.  A 29-year-old woman with an iPhone, which comes with a nice little GPS device.  You’d think the link to the google maps directions or even just the address of the place would suffice.  My favorite is, “Reverse directions for the way home.”  Good reminder.

Stunning.  Happy Friday.