(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of World News Trust)
Mickey Z. — World News Trust
August 26, 2021
“I don't hate people. I just feel better when they aren't around.” (Charles Bukowski)
I’m beginning this article on the afternoon of August 24, 2021. At 5:30 this morning, when I arrived at my local Planet Fitness gym, I was told I could not enter without proof that I’ve submitted to the Covid jab. It’s all part of NYC’s anti-science mandate. I promptly put my membership on freeze and went back home to work out using the equipment I have in my apartment. As you can see from the image up top, Planet Fitness markets itself as the “judgement-free zone.” This morning, I was nothing if not judged.
I froze my membership because my gut tells me the mandate won’t last. In the meantime, I’ll do my best with home workouts. Planet Fitness (PF) served the purpose as a no-frills, $10 a month gym with (wait for it) no mask mandate, but there is plenty I will not miss about my daily visits. For starters, there are the bathrooms and locker rooms:
More specifically, there is the endless parade of male colonizers. These are the dudes who take up a LOT of space — whether it be via noise or odor. I’ll tell you about a few of the noisy ones. Since Astoria is the most diverse neighborhood on earth, get ready for a Rainbow Coalition of offenders. There’s a rotund man, maybe 65, who arrives each morning in sweat pants, slippers, and a stupid striped dress shirt. The first thing he does is plop down on the abductor-adductor machine and whip out his phone. For the next half-hour or so, he chats loudly in Arabic with friends or family on FaceTime — occasionally doing a set of exercises.
His cacophonous conversation competes with the dance music already blaring over the gym’s sound system. Thus, even with my earphones in (for a podcast or my own playlist), I can hear him loud and clear. I’ve asked him to use earphones but that’s when he pretends to not speak English. (Spoiler alert: I’ve heard him speaking English dozens of times to front desk workers.) I’ve asked PF’s personal trainer to talk to him but he just gave me lip service. I will not miss Mr. FaceTime or his stupid striped dress shirt.
In the upstairs section of the gym, you’ll find the cardio equipment in a warehouse-like setting. The acoustics are such that sound really travels and reverberates. That’s where you’ll find another dude colonizing space with noise. He’s maybe 50, Latino, obese, and he only uses one particular elliptical machine for about 30 minutes. During that time, he turns his own music up on his phone and blasts it without earphones. Lucky us. I will not miss Salsa Man either.
Nearby is a slim, 50-something white guy with slicked-back hair who adds his own unique twist to the annoying music template. He wears earphones, mind you, but he SINGS ALONG to his playlist. This wannabe Elvis croons loudly and off-key with eyes closed like he’s giving his own goddamned concert. Members glare at him but he pretends to be oblivious. I’ve mentioned his antics to the staff but they tell me there’s nothing they can do. Spoiler alert: I’ve worked in perhaps a dozen gyms in my life. You can definitely ask a freak like that to quiet TF down. I will not miss Elvis.
By the time those two misfits finish up, Mr. FaceTime will have taken the elevator upstairs to plant himself on a Lifecycle and continue catching up with every single member of his family. Also, just about then, one more noisemaker will make his clamorous entrance. This young, burly African-American man gets on the same treadmill each day — last row, direct center, ideal for bouncing sound waves in every direction. He starts running, cues up some hip-hop on his phone, and turns the volume to 11. Lucky us. I’m usually gone by the time he arrives but if I’m not, he’d be my reminder that it’s time to go. I will not miss MC Treadmill.
As selfish and annoying as these (and several other) men could be, there is something else on the top floor that I will miss even less. Across the front of the cardio section, PF has placed 18 large TVs (see image above). To hear the TV station of your choice, you’d have to plug your earphones into a special slot on each cardio machine and tune it appropriately. Needless to say, I’ve never done this. I haven’t owned a TV for decades and the last thing I need is propaganda pumped directly into my cranium in the wee small hours of the morning.
That said, it’s impossible to not catch sight of the screens. Almost all of them are tuned to “news” shows so it’s a non-stop fear factor. Vaccine this, variant that, crime wave here, mass shooting there. I gaze around and watch my fellow gym-goers staring slack-jawed at this nonsense and my heart breaks a little more each day — brainwashing in real-time. I’ll definitely miss access to all that exercise equipment but, at least at home, I can control what I listen to and why. I will not miss EIGHTEEN television screens demanding my full attention and total capitulation.
There’s one more person from PF I will not miss. However, I will not take a snarky tone while discussing this poor soul. When I would typically first arrive — somewhere between 5:30 and 5:40 AM — I’d head downstairs to use the heavy ropes before that area of the gym got too busy. Without fail, I’d cross paths with a particular woman.
She seems to be in her 40s, quite skinny, with frenetic, wild-eyed energy. But that’s the least of it. This woman wears two masks but adds to that with a paper towel between her mouth and the masks. The paper towel juts out in all directions, covering much of her lower face. She also wears large headphones. Between each headphone and each ear, she places another paper towel — which leaves the sides of her head pretty much covered. If anyone gets within 10 feet of her, she sneers and scurries away. I will not miss bearing witness to this behavior.
Each and every morning, this woman appeared to me like a living, breathing manifestation of what the powers-that-be have done to our collective mental health since March 2020. With their lies, they have terrorized us out of our wits. They’ve divided us like never before. They’ve used willful deception to convince us to deny the evidence of our senses and dwell in a world of fear and omnipresent danger. Social skills (or what was left of them) have vanished. Critical thinking is an artifact of the past. And it's me who can’t set foot in a gym because I refuse to submit to any of it.
“Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process.” (Stanley Milgram)
Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, Mickey Z. can be found here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on New York City streets. To help him grow this project, CLICK HERE and donate right now. And please spread the word!