Freudian Slips: The Lifting at Bally's Gym

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

September 29, 2005

The Lifting at Bally's Gym

While lifting free weights at the gym, a crook lifted my valuables from my gym locker. I thought my veins swell and pop while weightlifting but it was nothing compared to the varicose variety when I discovered my ransacked locker. My body raged with endorphins but I had nobody’s neck to wrap a barbell around. The crook hit seven lockers in broad daylight at high noon then vanished without a face. He used bolt cutters to snip through our combination locks. He stole wallets, cell phones, pagers, and car keys. To add comedic value, he decided to steal everyone’s pants in the caper. Imagine seven guys in dress shirts and little else standing around the gym lobby waiting for the police. Some people waited hours for a family member to bring duplicate car keys.
The police officer arrived and escorted me to my locker to check out the scene of the crime. He took my name and phone number and jotted down what was stolen. I sensed that the police office was starting to wrap things up. I just so happened to be cooperating with the local police department and the Prosecutor’s office on a case at work so I started to throw names around. I got lively conversation from the patrolman but no further action.
“That does it from here.” The patrolman concluded after my name dropping stalled.
“A few of us have cell phones with global positioning. Can you call the phone carriers to see where exactly in the world these phones are at?”
“It can take a month to get a court order.”
“What is the sense in having GPS if you can’t use it when you need it?” The familiar phrase ‘Can you hear me now?’ echoed in my inner ear.
The officer made some polite closing statements then was gone faster than you can say Adam 1 Adam 12. I pulled the operations manager of the gym aside.
“For a member who loses his key or forgets their combination you use bolt cutters to get into their locker, right?”
There were only two people who were in the locker room when I undressed. Where are your bolt cutters right now?”
“Relax. They remain under my desk.” He replied. “They haven’t left my side all day.”
“I had to ask you.” I admitted. “I wasn’t pointing the finger at your staff. The crook could have used your bolt cutters. I have been a member of this gym for twenty years. How about a peek into your computer to show me the male members who came into the gym today? The crook needed a gym membership to get in here. You can print them out and the names can be scrutinized by the detective when he gets on the case. I could almost eliminate half the names on the list because I have known these guys for years.”
“Joe, I did the Bally’s incident reporting. You filed a police report. I just want to turn it over to the authorities.”
I could not argue with his approach but including the word ‘just’ didn’t go over well with me. An hour after a second shift housekeeping staff reported to work, I asked him if he had heard what happened. He had not heard of the looting. In my mind, this oversight exposed the operations manager who wanted to ‘just’ let the authorities handle it and not use his own authority to make his gym safer. There was no inservicing staff coming on shift about the robbery and no increased patrols of the locker room by housekeeping staff. No additional signs were hung in the locker room. No announcement on the intercom and the first sureveillance camera by an entry door remained a ghostly technological advance. It was business and theft as usual. More could have been done to make members ‘just’ feel safe.
Another patrolman meandered into the gym to make a police report on victims # 6 and 7. I thought it was odd that the first patrolman left without asking the staff on duty any questions. When the second patrolman headed towards the exit doors without taking action, I questioned the protocol.
“Wouldn’t it be a good idea to ask the front desk staff what they remember? Here me out. I arrived at the gym at 12:15pm and the last victim arrived at 1:00pm. It is a slow day at the gym. There can’t be more than 10 members who came through the front door in that time frame. Can’t you pull the computer records and see what you got?”
The officer was polite and straightforward. “Sir, that’s not how it works. I come out and take the information for the police report. I go back to the office and finish the report later. Said report gets submitted for typing. It will eventually find its way over to a detective’s desk who will come out and conduct an investigation. This is not my investigation.”
“By that time in the distant future, the front desk staff will have forgotten the information that is in their short term memory now.”
“I’m sorry. It is not my investigation.” he reiterated.
Like the last puppy to hear a dog whistle, I finally got it. It is not an investigation yet. It is only a crime. Unless I had made a citizens arrest by capturing the crook myself with the wrap around barbell, this case was going stone cold. The fact gathering I had done to this point was for naught. The second officer left the scene with impeccable timing. I came to the gym to workout but became worked up after crime and this exercise of futility.
Borrowing a cell phone, I walked out to my parked car. I pressed my ear to the trunk and dialed my cell phone number to see if I could hear it ring. My phone ringer sounded to the tune of the X-Files theme. I was confident that my trunk had not been popped and my wallet, cell phone, and jewelry were safe. I returned to my air conditioned perch in the gym slightly relieved. I continued waiting for a family member to deliver a second set of keys to the gym.
About an hour later, the young girl working the front desk fumbled around with the legal tender in the cash register. She turned to us, the disgruntled group of victims for help.
“Do any of you guys have change for a twenty dollar bill?”
“What are you freaking kidding me?” I piped. “We aren’t just standing around here in our loins for nothing. Don’t you remember, we had everything stolen from us? If you think you got nothing in your drawers, ours have been totally cleaned out?”
The manager came out of his office hideaway to quell my outpouring of emotion. I am not a hot head but she sure pissed me off.
“I think you guys have waited long enough to earn a free soda. What can I get you fellas?” the manager offered.
I know the manager meant well but I found the free soda pop insulting and representative of the only observable action the gym was willing to take. I declined on the token carbonated freebie. So I wound up waiting a total of four hours with my face peeled to the front bay window worrying whether some hooded heroin addict was coming to steal my car.
Free weights have never cost me so much but the moral of the story is apparent. A crook with a gym membership does all of his lifting inside the locker room.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

My friend Zelda just loves guys with muscles. Guess someone else will get enjoy a sixpack after that gym workout....

7:21 PM  
Blogger Merci said...

Why would they need a warrant to trace a phone via GPS if the owner of the phone gives permission?

We should come up with some creative booby trap ideas for your locker.

7:49 PM  
Blogger lilly05 said...

You have just been victimized by the American Justice system Joe. How did it feel? It is truly angry making to finally realize that no one really gives a hoot! Sorry about the rude awakening you recieved, hope you don't have to experience it again in the near future.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

I've always wondered what good GPS on a cell phone would do in a situation like that. Plus, I think you can turn it off some how.

So sorry this happened. It sucks, but *hopefully* they'll figure out who did it and nail his balls to the locker room wall.

11:52 PM  
Anonymous et said...

Erin, I couldn't have said it better!

6:23 AM  
Anonymous Cami said...

Joe, it sounds like the police won't be doing much about this case. Unless a great deal of money has been pilfered they'll have "something better to do". It's a shame you can't hire a private detective (maybe I've been watching too much TV).

9:51 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

a quart of beer usually floors me.

that's what I said!

the untold story is that to the same police department i reported a stolen bike. i called them three times to pick it up. the bike was stolen a second time.

remind me not to ever get you mad. i don't want to be your poster child for anything. lol.

ditto cam.

is there not a place for lost items holding sentamentality? afraid not.

7:19 PM  
Blogger PaxRomano said...

First the leaking roof, now the robbery; my god, you need to find a new gym - the place sounds like it's run by a bunch of dumb-bells!

11:04 AM  
Blogger Weary Hag said...

What a shame, Joe. Sorry this happened... hey, I do like Merci's idea of us trying to come up with a good protection system for your locker! :)

2:02 PM  
Blogger eatmisery said...

Will you ever go back to that gym again? If so, will you change what you bring with you to put in your locker?

That really sucks. No one expects to get robbed while they're working out and they think their belongings are safely locked away.

A can of soda does NOT make up for the loss of trust you now feel. Such bullshit.

I hope they find the crook and I hope they're sincere about their investigation, Joe. You're right about it being the most expensive set of barbells you've ever bought.

Now hurry up and report those credit cards stolen. Hopefully, you can still walk away with your credit intact.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

same thing happend to me at LA Fitness gym on suguar oak and 120 today 12/26/07.

This has been happening for a while now when it came down to me I was lucky enough to not have my wallet in there! Is it an inside JOB???? I've been a member for a while and I know people, shouldn't the staff?

10:03 PM  

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