Last night, after picking up Mrs. Cutter’s mother from the airport, we stopped at McDonalds for some dessert. And to my delight, on the menu they had Shamrock Shakes! For those who are not familiar with Shamrock Shakes, they are McDonalds’ special St. Patrick’s Day themed shakes. They are bright green with a mint flavor. Here is an old commercial:
I would have these every so often as a child, as I seem to remember insisting that my grandparents buy them for me when visiting, but it had been a long time since I last enjoyed one. I’m guessing its been about 23 years. In recent years, I had been on the lookout, but for whatever reason, most McDonalds do not carry them anymore.
Three years ago, when I had my tonsils out right before St. Patricks Day, I wanted one in the worst way, but none of the local McDonalds were carrying them. And you should have seen the puzzled looks when I asked the cashier if they had Shamrock Shakes.
So I was quite thrilled to find the Shamrock Shake on the menu last night. I barely remembered what they even tasted like. My best attempt at describing it was: “It’s green. It tastes like green.” But in actuality they are quite minty, and pretty damned good. On St. Patrick’s Day, I’m going to have to go back and get another one.
In football news, wide receiver Terrell Owens was released by the Cowboys. On one hand, this saddens me as he was helping to tear the Cowboys apart. Without him, they might actually become a good team. On the other hand, it does bring a smile to my face to see Owens humbled like this. The man is basically a sociopath who has shown an inability to properly interact with other people. Sweaty does a great job of breaking down where Owens’ next NFL stop will be. I can only hope that the Redskins sign him. I might not be able to handle the entertainment that would bring me.
And now I have to rant a bit about Bally’s Total Fitness. In 2004, Mrs. Cutter signed up for Bally’s as part of their Discovery Challenge. This is a promotion they run at the beginning of every year to try and use people’s new years resolutions to gain membership. They offer trial memberships and discounted rates.
When Mrs. Cutter signed up, they told her she would have to pay a certain cost for two years, then she would get a year free, and after that, it would cost her $12/month for life. The person who signed her up assured her that the price would remain at $12/month per life. What the guy didn’t mention was that the $12/month rate was subject to annual $2 increases.
Last month, she was sent a letter informing her that her membership rate was being raised to $16/month. Apparently, since they didn’t apply a $2 increase last year, they are permitted to raise her rate by $4 this year. She tried arguing with the club manager that she was never told about this, and I called up their corporate office and argued as well. Since we didn’t have our contract on hand, they said they could mail us a copy to verify the terms, but that would cost $10. It didn’t seem worth it to pay that money, but fortunately Mrs. Cutter was able to track down her contract. (Score one for keeping documents!)
Anyway, after looking over her contract, she found that she was indeed subject to the $2 annual increases. And while she may have been told something different, there’s no way of proving this, since that’s not what is in the contract. Let this be a lesson for everyone: Read contracts carefully before signing!
This just added to my frustration I’ve had lately with Ballys. I first joined in December 2007 after I got a new job, and no longer worked in a building with a built-in gym. I chose Ballys because I could be added on to Mrs. Cutter’s plan, and they had a locations in Wheaton (near my office) and Rockville (near my home). I soon learned that while the Wheaton location was nicer, it was also smaller, and they only generally had one of each type of weight equipment. That meant a lot more standing around and waiting for other people to finish. Plus, it seemed like there was always a line for treadmills, bikes, and elliptical machines. When you’re in the middle of a good workout, its very frustrating to have to wait around.
So I stopped going to Wheaton and used Rockville since it was bigger and closer to home. I had settled into a good routine there, except for some complaints. The room that used to be designated for stomach exercises was changed into a spinner bike room, so they had to move the stomach equipment to the stretching area, making it extremely cramped.
Also, they have the dance/aerobics classes held in an area in the middle of the gym. And these classes tend to incorporate music. This wouldn’t be a huge problem except for the class that usually takes place when I’m there after work is led by a woman who insists on blasting her music (and its the same annoying song every time) and then shouting over the music. I have trouble hearing my iPod when this class is going on. I’ve grown to dislike this woman, and I give myself credit for not running her over in the parking lot when I had the chance.
But once January rolled around, the gym became much more crowded. All the “New Years Resolutioners” are out in full force. Making matters worse, through the aforementioned Discovery Challenge or other promotions, the gym has given out quite a few trial memberships. This causes the gym to be flooded by people who aren’t really serious about working out, as most won’t last past the trial period, and the ones who do stay on as permanent members will inevitably grow tired of it.
So now, I’m once again stuck waiting for equipment or having to move around the aimless wanderers who don’t really know what they’re doing at the gym, so they tend to stand around looking clueless. Or they hog the equipment. And really, if you’re going to go on a treadmill, and put it at the lowest setting and talk to your friend the whole time, why bother?
I’ve taken to going on the weekends when it is much less crowded. And I know that soon, these trial memberships will end. But for now: frustration.