I recently joined a new gym. It's a lot fancier (read: cleaner) than any gym I've belonged to previously. I was sucked in because the place is across the street from my apartment, and I had been grousing about my old (read: dirtier) gym's deficiencies (read: stink; read more closely: too far from my apartment) when I discovered that the clean brand-new gym across the street was on the last day of it's so-low-you-can't-afford-not-to-join summer sale. I took it as a sign.
Now I've done a bit of research on gym memberships, I know what I'm supposed to ask, I know that any sales rep who keeps exclaiming "the gym sells itself!" when taking you on a tour is hilariously full of it, but still I ended up baffled. The thing is, like anyone who really, really wants you to buy what he's selling, a wacky gym salesguy is prone to a little fast talk and speedy calculator work. This Wacky Gym Salesguy, however, has me set up in some very spurious situation whereby I'm going to get some big bucks back for "referring" three new clients. Now, by "referring," WGS means that anyone who signs up without a referral will magically become "referred" by me, and six months from this stranger's sign-up date, I'm theoretically getting $100 per person I referred. So we're talking about $300 back, six months from now.
Okay, so I'm a little skeptical about this arrangement (after we calculate all my discounts because he "likes" me, the super-super sale-sale discount, and my $300-back-at-some-later-date, my monthly membership fee is about $3.79), so WGS tells me he's going to give me a photocopy of the member contract of each person I "refer" so I know he's a man of his word. No, he won't put our arrangement in writing, but he will give me photocopies. I'm going to have to trust him, take him at his word, he tells me, gazing deep into my eyes as if to say "Have I ever lied to you?" I stare back, as if to say "I don't want to die, Daddy."
The creepy-ish part is that every time I go to my new (clean) gym, WGS comes up to me, calls me by name, and tells me he's just gotten me another "referral." Each time this happens I feel dirty, like we have some sub rosa arrangement going on, like we're playing a down-and-dirty illegal game the stakes of which will only become clear when the severed heads of these so-called "members" show up in my gym locker. Last time I was there, WGS came up to me and, as promised, gave me an envelope with three members' registration forms. I feel even more like a CIA agent now, because I think I'm supposed to take this as the sealing of our deal and assume my $300 is in an escrow account in the Virgin Islands, but instead I am in possession of the names, addresses, job info and credit card numbers of three strangers. Is this legit? Am I an unwitting dupe in a high-stakes Ponzi scheme?
I don't know exactly how or when, but I have this distinct feeling that there's a muffled late-night phone call in my future, telling me to leave 3 large (or is "large" a thousand dollars? "3 small?") in an unmarked Halliburton case down by the pier.