Posted by: GeekHiker | April 26, 2010

Change Isn’t Always Good, Methinks…

The gym I go to isn’t one of the major chains, like 24 Hour Fitness or Bally’s.  Instead, I go to a small gym in one of the local corporate buildings.

Of course, not being one of the bigger gyms, it doesn’t have those things that are all important to modern fitness.  You know, the juice bar, the professional masseuses, the kids area, and the pro shop.  (Sadly, I’m not even making those up to be funny.  Those are the “features” of one of the local major gyms!)

On the plus side: its got all the basics, everyone who works there knows all the clients, and it’s never very crowded.  The only thing I really wish it had is a pool.

Parking is also a breeze.  Being a large corporate building, there’s tons of guest parking and, since I usually arrive after the majority of businesses have closed, spaces are easy to get.

The parking is validated too.  For the last few years I would get my ticket stamped by a machine at the gym, which would then be handed by the parking attendant, who would confirm the validation, ring me up at $0, wish me a nice day and send me on my way.

As of this week though, that’s no more.

Instead, they’ve just installed an automated system.  Now the ticket is validated on the magnetic strip at the gym.  No longer will I be handing it to the friendly attendant, but instead I’ll be inserting it into a machine which will read the mag stripe and open the gate.

As a computer geek, I get the idea behind this.  The system probably isn’t cheap, but in the end it’ll most likely save money and be more efficient.  No longer will the company that owns the building have to pay the salary of the attendant.  No longer will they have to pay for health benefits, insurance coverage, etc.  It’s automating a system and, in the end, saving costs.


I’m going to miss the parking attendant.  I’m going to miss the little conversation, the human interaction a few times a week.  That new machine, after all, isn’t going to ask me how my workout was, isn’t going to comment on the weather, isn’t going to wish me a good day.

The parking rates themselves, I noted on the way in, are not changing.  So, if my parking weren’t validated by my gym membership, it’s obvious that any savings wouldn’t be passed on to me as a building visitor.

And, to top it off, yet one more person in this crappy economy is going to be out of a job.

So, yeah, I get it.  Making things efficient, that’s what computers do.

Sometimes, though, it just doesn’t feel right.



  1. w00t! First commenter!

    The easiest way to endear me to your establishment is to do something that shows you recognize me. Even if it is greeting me with my usual order when I come in the door.

    “Small meatball sub?”

    Done– I’m won over.

    Anyway, I would be hard pressed to get that same kind of a fulfillment and happiness from a machine.

    As a programmer, I understand the efficiencies that can be gained from automated processes. But as a person, I can see how there is a new absence. 🙂

  2. It is sad when people get replaced by machines. I think we’ll see that trend continue for some time. Daniel Pink wrote a book about it…the title is escaping me right now…but interesting theories.

    Maybe you can try to chat with more people in the gym to get your conversation fill?

  3. i hear ya. and, like mel says, it probably will happen more and more. now i’m feeling a bit guilty because i use the self-checkout at the grocery store all the time. then again, my co-workers tease me that the administration is building a library robot to replace me…

  4. Computers don’t fire people; PEOPLE fire people.

    Wait, does that analogy even work?

    Anyway, if you were a REAL (TM) American, you’d congratulate the company for it’s generous spirit in freeing this woman to pursue far more productive activities, enriching not only herself but us all.

    Capitalism: Everybody wins!

  5. And to not even see a savings in your membership or parking is a real ass chapper.

  6. Welcome to the modern age. Kinda sucks.

  7. I’m sorry you were missing your friend

  8. I want to defend the little guy, but I’m not sure that is such a “parking attendant” specialized career that he or she does not have transferable skills.

    Or I am bitter customer service pion.

  9. Awwww……sorry to hear that.
    Frankly, I’ll be happier with the computer thing than the attendant because I don’t like socializing with people that well. LOL. It’s part of AS. Socializing online (like this) is much easier for me than in real life. U understand? 🙂

  10. Your post reminds me of this story (go see the movie!): 🙂

  11. Vicky – That’s the conundrum: people want lower prices, but they also want the personal touch that comes at a price.

    Mel Heth – Unfortunately, people at my gym aren’t exactly “chatty”. Pretty much everyone is plugged into their iPods!

    BlakSpring – Don’t even get me started on the idea of losing librarians and libraries!

    AbsurdBeats – Yeah, far more productive activities, like trying to figure out how to buy food on food stamps…

    Dingo – Maybe I’m supposed to be happy it wasn’t raised…

    Homer-Dog – Indeed it does

    MissMcCracken – Friend might be a stretch, but I will miss her saying “hello”

    TheCoconutDiaries – True, but in this economy, there are an awful lot of people who just need a job, ya know?

    Desert Aspie – So, you really need to be able to e-mail the parking attendant… 😉

    K – Given my inherited like of anthropology, I’d probably really like that movie!

  12. Poor parking person. I like being known at regular haunts like that, those connections that would never have happened otherwise.

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