The Peloton Ad: My Take

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. – Wayne Dyer

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the “controversial” Peloton ad which a bunch of strangers using the soapbox that is Twitter have labeled “sexist.”

In case you haven’t, here it is (for as long as they keep in on YouTube).

I’ve read the opinions and articles on this ad. I’ve watched it a few times for the sake of this blog post. The analysis from the court of public opinion has ranged from a husband who bought the bike for his wife because he is obsessed with keeping her in shape to a husband that is abusive toward her.

Yeesh. The vitriol! I’m absolutely amazed by how many people turned out to be relationship experts and knew their status and history after watching a 30-second spot. In fact, the actor who plays the husband recently spoke out and is now worried about how the backlash from every Tom, Dick and Harry may be damaging his career.

Meanwhile, the actress who played the wife got a gig for Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin as a way to poke back at how the Peloton ad was perceived by the Twitterverse (or if you’ve been blogging for 15 years like me, the blogosphere).

At this point, another opinion about this doesn’t really make much of a difference because the consensus is that she’s more or less in a blink-if-you’re-in-danger relationship and she needs to workout – or else.

But I’m going to give you mine anyway. And because the ad has already been chastised and labeled as wrong, I’m going to look beyond the surface and try to put a positive light on it because hey, what else should I be doing on a Saturday night, right?

First, let’s be honest. At a starting price of over $2,000 (not including membership), this is not a cheap gift. Granted, the ad does depict them as affluent and not necessarily concerned about the cost but maybe, just maybe, she actually wanted the bike, hence her surprise.

It sounds silly, I know. But why would she want it? Perhaps she lives in a town where inclement weather is commonplace – the ad does show it snowing in one scene. Or perhaps she tried spin classes and it turns out she’s not a fan of being in a hot, sweaty, trainer-yelling-in-your-face environment. Honestly, I don’t care much for gyms either because the scenery never changes whether you’re on the stationary bike or treadmill. I’d rather be outside breathing fresh air and logging actual miles riding to the beach and back which is possible year-round where I live.

Then there’s the new GritCycle gym that just opened up in a shopping complex down the street from us. The place is so packed that we can hardly find parking if we just want to go for a tea. I wouldn’t want to deal with that, either.

Another criticism of the ad was that she doesn’t look like she needs to lose weight, hence the theory about hubby making her do the workouts. While I was never a fan of fitness ads depicting thin people trying to be thin, it’s not always about what you see on the surface.

Near the end of the spot, where she documents her progress throughout by shooting video selfies, she looks into the camera and says, “A year ago, I didn’t realize how much this would change me. Thank you.”

As you may have read in my previous posts, over a year ago my wife was diagnosed with kidney cancer and had a nephrectomy on October 2018. The road to recovery after any surgery, let alone one where they removed two organs and the fat pocket surrounding them, is not an easy one and getting back into the swing of things can prove to be difficult.

One of the things all of her –ologists recommended was being less sedentary once her recovery was complete – and that’s exactly what we’ve done. Last August, we paid for the annual parking pass for our local park so that I can aid in her recovery by either walking or cycling with her around the park or neighboring nature center trails.

To see her now, logging up to 5 miles either on foot or riding the saddle, you would never know that I took a week vacation last year to sleep next to her in a lounge chair while she slept on the couch – her stitches prevented her from climbing in and out of bed – to help her get up and sit down whenever she needed it. She’s now cancer-free and getting her doctor-recommended dose of exercise. Because of everything she’s gone through, she’s also the strongest woman I know. Let’s not even talk about her difficult pregnancy.

Although you would never know by her appearance, perhaps Peloton Wife falls into a similar category and her daily workouts are her way of proving to everyone that she’s not only on the road to recovery but getting stronger by the day – even when she begrudgingly wakes up at 6 am to work out (believe me, my wife and I have been there). Recovery takes strength and determination, both of which are shown in the ad.

And there you have it. I just spent a good amount of time analyzing a commercial that in today’s viral-obsessed world nobody will even care about in a week. But my point was that we don’t always know the backstory nor should we pretend to. This was just a way of, based on my personal experience, shedding a different light on what so many saw as a negative depiction of a relationship.

Because if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Gone

Our office has a bikeshare program that allows us to check out a bike whenever we desire. When the program started, I was the first one to submit my name for approval and, quite possibly, the first to take advantage of it.

The problem is the bikes aren’t the best. They serve their purpose but are marginal for riding longer distances, something I rather like doing. I had considered buying a bike and leaving it at the office so I could use that during lunch but Ann suggested I take her old 2008 Trek 7100 hybrid bike since she wasn’t using it at home.

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Not only a beautiful bike, it’s a solid bike – and cost $350 new. In fact the only difference between this and my bike, which as served me well since 2006, is that it’s a women’s model. I don’t care; it makes it that much easier to mount and dismount without that high bar in the middle.

And somewhere between the time I left the office on Monday 2/26/18 and my lunch on Tuesday 2/27/18, it was stolen. From inside the office.

I discovered it was missing right after I finished eating, when I walked to the bike rack on the second floor stairway where I park it along with a few others. And apparently I forgot to lock it up after my ride on Monday because this is what greeted me on Tuesday.

Photo Feb 28, 6 00 53 PM

I wedge it between that green bike and the black one to the right of it. When I saw this, I panicked and – talk about timing – ran into one of the porters as I exited the stairway.

The building is currently going through a remodel and things are in a state of flux. In fact this is not where the bike rack is normally located, a place with public access. The rack is normally inside the office where the bikes are clearly visible.

With this in mind, I asked the porter if he knew about any of the bikes being moved since, well, mine was missing. He said he didn’t and that’s when my panic turned into disbelief and anger.

I had to take a moment to process things. Then when I realized that it was truly gone, that’s when I got really pissed. I would have really loved to know what my blood pressure was at that point.

My bike was stolen. My fucking bike was stolen. It’s easy to dismiss it as “just a bike” but when you ride it daily and rely on it, finding out someone took it for no other reason but to take it is like a kick in the gut, especially when its sentimental value is far beyond any money they will get for it. It’s like my 5th-generation iPod: not worth much on the market but absolute gold to me as a still-functioning music player.

I walked down the stairway and sent Ann a text about it. She wasn’t nearly as upset as I was but you know, Venus and Mars. Then I stepped outside the building a little lost, but then like George Kennedy swinging his baton on foot beat in The Blue Knight, decided to take a look around the complex.

Long Beach is known for lots of things but one thing it is notorious for is bike theft. There are chop shops all over the town and it’s not uncommon to see a bike locked to a bike rack one day and have it stripped of everything from its frame by the next. The buzzards will pick at it until there’s only a skeleton and then eventually, the skeleton is taken.

It’s also not uncommon to see people riding bikes and carrying other bikes or parts, sometimes at breakneck speed and against red lights. And chances are those parts will get sold to buy drugs – like the crack I saw people smoking outside the building today. I may show you the beautiful parts of town on Instagram but oh, it can be so so ugly, too.

So I walked around in a haze but kept my eyes out for any person riding a bike. No dice, like I expected they’d come running back anyway.

When I came back to my desk I sent an email to the office manager and HR letting them know what had happened. I also sent Ann a message asking her to look for the paperwork for the bike since I thought we had it in our computer desk. She looked and only found one for my bike, purchased in 2007. I needed it for the serial number, not a requirement when filing a report but a big plus because if it’s sold and the number scanned, it will immediately show up as stolen and the ball will get rolling.

But I thought I had taken a picture of it for this purpose. The problem now was looking for it in all of those “Phone Pix” folders on my external drive, filed by month and year. I thought the easier way to find the number would be to call the shop where I purchased the bike so when I got home, I gave them a call.

It turns out they upgraded their POS system in 2013 and have no records of sales before that. My receipt is in triplicate so that gives you an idea of when I bought the bike.

Not giving up hope just yet, I turned on the computer and started looking for that one picture – and I found it in the first “Phone Pix” folder I looked in.

Now that I had it, I filed a police report and also reported it as stolen on 529 Garage/National Bike Registry as well as BikeIndex.org. Aside from checking online classifieds and apps like OfferUp and LetGo, this is pretty much all I can do for the moment.

But I wasn’t done.

On Wednesday, with the theft of my bike still oh-so-fresh in my mind, I checked out one of the company bikeshare bikes and hit the town. Normally, I follow a pretty organized route and end up riding between 3-5 miles in an hour but on this day, I managed to cover over 8 miles in that same time on a cheap bike. Adrenaline is an amazing thing.

I rode to some areas I knew were a hotbed for illegal activity, including chop shops and outside public restrooms along the beach. I kept an eye out for anyone riding a bike and gave them a good look as they passed. I even followed one of those shady characters riding a bike with parts for about a mile before I had to make my way back to the office.

And I’ve decided that should I see someone riding my bike, they are getting chased if I’m riding (remember our friend adrenaline?) or standing in their way if I’m on foot. I’m taking it back, no questions asked.

But there’s a very good chance that I’ll never see it around the office. As I had mentioned, the stairway is public access and anyone from any of the businesses can use it. But considering that most of the businesses there close up at 6 pm and there are construction and after-hours cleaning crews roaming around, there’s a possibility that someone outside of the company took it and doesn’t live locally. Think about it: the one time I don’t lock my bike it gets stolen, which leads me to believe that someone had their eye on it for a long time and they saw the opportunity to take it.

With that in mind, I posted this sign on the wall near the bike rack. Hopefully dangling the carrot of a reward will get them thinking.

Photo Mar 01, 9 30 27 AM

And that’s all I can do for now. While I’m better, I’m still pissed that someone thought it was hunky dory to steal my bike. I’ve been checking the bike rack since the company email blast went out and I posted this hoping just maybe the cocksu…thief had a change of heart.

I recall back in the day when I had a Schwinn beach cruiser stolen from me outside a liquor store where I was playing Asteroids. Luckily, it had a bike license and was somehow recovered and returned to me.

Today, with the world so connected, I’m hopeful that this bike will be recovered in a timely manner.

But until then…I wait.

As for the thief, fuck you. To the moon and back.

Friday Five: Stuff I Don’t Get Either

Well, look at that!

In an effort to get my lazy self blogging again, I’ve resorted to the old standby of the Friday Five, a series of questions posted by a random Internet person that I, most likely another random Internet person to you, will answer. So let’s hop right into it.

1. Twitch is an enormously popular livestreaming platform mostly for watching people play video games. It has more than 1.5 million broadcasters and more than one million visitors per month, and Amazon acquired it for nearly a billion dollars in 2014. Which of your computer activities would you livestream if there were a way to make some money doing it?

I lead such an exciting life, online and offline, that I wouldn’t know where to begin (obvious sarcasm). But if I were any good at the Xbox games I have, I guess I’d stream those provided anybody wanted to watch me drive a car since I don’t play much of anything but racing games. FPS games confuse me — too many controls. Then again I’m an old fart and the current generation of kids wouldn’t bother tuning in other than to “roast” me. (Yeah. I have a teenager and that’s a completely acceptable term as of this post.) That’s just console video games. Computers? I don’t use my computer for gaming so I can’t imagine anybody wanting to tune in and watch me open up iTunes and manage my music collection.

2. EDM (electronic dance music) is usually performed by DJs on stage in front of audiences, playing tracks they’ve mixed, right off their laptops. If you were a push-button DJ playing your tunes in a club, what would be your opening and closing songs, assuming everyone’s there because they’re into whatever sounds you’re into?

I know nothing of this genre except that it’s not my thing. But I suppose if given the chance, I’d open with Perfume’s “Edge” (Triangle Mix) and end it with with Electronic’s “Idiot Country.” I guess. Maybe. I don’t know. Maybe this Friday Five thing wasn’t such a good idea after all.

3. What’s a good Adele song, and why is Adele so popular?

There’s a few things I know about Adele. First, I’m not familiar with any of her songs other than her big hits and I don’t care for any of those. In fact I’ll change the station in the car the second I hear her (provided I’m listening to a station that plays her — a rarity, and the reason I’ve always got my phone connected to the radio). Second, she seems a bit long-winded and whiny about lots of things which isn’t scoring any points with me. Maybe there’s a reason why she likes to carry on for so long but I’m not aware of it. I’m just not a fan of hers. As far as her popularity goes, the only thing I can attribute to that is she entered the scene right about the time Amy Winehouse left this earth and she’s filling the void she left behind. Why or how is beyond me; I wasn’t a fan of hers either.

4. The Walking Dead?

I’ve never seen an episode in any of its incarnations and don’t plan to. In case you aren’t aware I’m not a big TV or movie fan, especially any that are popular, and this one is no exception. Name a show — chances are I haven’t seen it. But this one? Oooh, zombies and blood and shit. Big deal. And while we’re on the topic of “Stuff I Don’t Get,” I can’t forget those people who dress up as zombies at those [whatever]-cons and schlep themselves down the street en masse while grunting and groaning. You do you. I’ll do me, thanks.

5. Every generation seems to arrive at a “They don’t write ’em like that anymore” attitude. Why does it seem like most middle-aged people lose interest in new music?

This one is easy: today’s music sucks. There’s little to no substance in today’s music, nothing like the epic storytelling “American Pie” or concept double albums anymore; it’s mostly commercialized garbage. Well, I can’t say all of it because — get ready — there are some current artists that I listen to and enjoy. Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Panic! At the Disco (Death of a Bachelor is unbelievably spectacular), even Lady Gaga to a certain extent. But out of all the artists on the scene today, Bruno Mars tops them all in my book. His songwriting is amazing, musicianship top-notch, and he can dance like nobody’s business. Look up his Super Bowl performances and Prince tribute — pure talent. That cat can do it all.

Well, that’s it. I started this post this morning and finished it up on my phone right now. I’m still fighting off some kind of cold or something so it’s time to go relax and probably fall asleep early.

Have a great weekend, provided the world doesn’t end on Saturday.

Humblebragging

I suppose I can’t really get to the context of this post without a backstory of my own, so here goes.

Back in 2001, I was managing a one-hour photo lab – kids, go ask your grandparents – when the events on 9/11 unfolded. Naturally, like most people, I was shocked and wanted to do anything I could to help in any way I could.

A few days later and with the owner’s approval, I printed out a bunch of 4×6 color shots of an American flag, stuck a magnetic backing on the back of each of them, and sold them for $1 each with 100% of the proceeds going to the American Red Cross. (The shot was mine – see image above – so there were no releases or anything involved.) I then put them on the counter with a small sign so customers could see them when they picked up their orders.

We raised a modest amount in cash which I delivered personally to my local Red Cross chapter, where they asked for the company’s information so that they could send a thank-you letter. I obliged so that the owner could have some kind of record should there be any tax implications.

When it arrived, and thinking it was the right thing to do, I displayed it on the counter as proof to customers that the money raised was delivered and not used for a Burger King lunch.

Until that one customer came in and saw it. They scolded us left and right, up and down, for “making a big deal” about raising and donating the money. They saw the letter as nothing more than a pat on the back during a time of crisis and turmoil when my intention was to simply inform them that the money raised went exactly where we wanted it to go. They just weren’t buying it. If social media was around back then and I had posted the letter, some might have considered that move a case of humblebragging when it actually wasn’t. Totally different circumstances.

Flash-forward to today. As I get older and seemingly more cynical and less tolerant of things that get under my skin, the one thing that really bothers me is seeing people go out of their way with the aforementioned humblebrag. Granted I’ve done my share in the past when it comes to my workouts but as of late, I haven’t and I’m not going to anymore. I’ve come to realize how incredibly narcissistic they sound are and have decided to put a stop to them for my own good, along with other forms that might fall into the same category. (As a side note, I have pretty much scaled back posting anything personal on social media. We’ve all got problems but I don’t think they all, if any of them, need to be shared.)

But there’s some bragging, of course, I don’t mind.

Finish your first marathon? Great! I’m happy for ya. Hold that medal high – you’ve earned it! Finishing your 11th marathon in 3 months, with each one setting a new PR, and proudly stating that this will get you ready for your 12th in a few weeks? We get it, Achilles.

Win Employee of the Month? Awesome! Winning it again and again and again and saying “another one for the wall”? Let’s not be so modest, mmmkay?

Y’all gotta know when to quit. But there are others that simply want to make me punch my phone/monitor/etc. The one that really drives me insane is when people make it a point to post on social media when they donated to charity or partook in a charitable act.

Here’s where my qualifying story makes more sense. Posting the letter from the Red Cross was done in order to clear the air from a business standpoint; no malice was involved or intended. The letter proved everything was on the up-and-up and all but one customer understood why it was posted. Fine and well.

Trust me, I’m all for raising awareness if it encourages others to be proactive and give themselves. No problems there.

But when you post a smug, unshaven Instagram selfie from Skid Row, one of Los Angeles’ most notorious homeless neighborhoods, and say that you’re “making a difference…out of my own pocket” to feed others, I think you’re fucking insane and frankly don’t give a shit about what you’re doing, if you’re doing anything at all. The proof is that picture of your lunch that you were eating from the comfort and warmth of a Skid Row restaurant posted minutes before that damn selfie.

Also, along with the selfie, posting a picture of someone’s makeshift alley home is just as disturbing. “Look at me, I’m really here. I want everybody to see.”

Seriously. I can’t think of enough awful things to say about that or ways to put you down for being so goddamn insensitive.

(I wish I was kidding about the story above but I’m not. I’ve seen it – more than once.)

Wanna really make an impact, Rich Uncle Pennybags? Then get your pad and pencil – it’s gonna be kinda right.

First, turn off your fucking phone because you won’t be needing it.

Second, with those deep pockets of yours, go back and buy several bowls of that delicious orange chicken, take them out in the alley with the homeless, and sit and share a meal with them. In fact, give yours to someone – you just ate. Don’t just throw them a buck and walk away; get to know these people and listen to them. They are human and most likely haven’t had any positive interaction with an outsider for a long time because most won’t give them the time of day or any kind of respect.

Talk to them, smile with them, help them. Look them in the eyes and try to feel and understand their sorrow. You might learn something – one of them could be a veteran, a father, a musician, or all three of those. They may have incredible stories to tell so shut up, listen and learn.

Finally, when it’s all said and done, and with your phone still off, humbly walk away with the satisfaction of knowing you did something out of the kindness of your heart to help your fellow man and not to raise your social media standing with friends.

Charity is never about you and not everything has to be a Facebook status. It’s about others, and the best way to keep it about others is to not blast your face and tell your stories all over your social media accounts because, believe it or not, people are much better at sensing bullshit than you might think. And once they do, they’ll never look at you the same way again.

And before you ask what I’m doing to be charitable, well, you don’t need to know. That’s the whole point of this post.

Need some attention? Hey, fine. Go buy a puppy. But wanting the exposure at the expense of those living on the streets isn’t just wrong, I think it’s the sign of someone who is completely disconnected from reality and has only their ego in mind, not the act itself or who it will benefit from it.

Do it for reasons, not the “likes” and accolades.

And for shit’s sake, be humble about it.

My Muse Got Stuck in Traffic and I Don’t Care

My schedule at Big Name Supermarket is sporadic at best. There’s no telling how many hours I’m going to work or in which department I will spend them in but either way, I’m beginning to think that the job has run its course on me after being there only 8.75 months.

Promises were made but have only been fulfilled partially despite the excretion of my (proverbial) blood, (real) sweat, and (frustrated) tears. And although I’m inching up on the grand ol’ age of 46 and feel great, the physical strain of the job—bagging, retrieving shopping carts, stocking merchandise, lifting heavy items—is getting to be a bit much. In the end, for everything I’ve put into it, all I’m getting out of it is a paycheck that equals my tax and health insurance deductions at a previous job.

After working office jobs for years, I thought that going back into a retail/grocery environment would do me some good. It did but not for very long and now I’m thinking that maybe an office job wasn’t that bad after all.

Maybe to some, working a grocery store is a fine and dandy career choice. For the cashier whose husband makes ridiculous amounts of money doing [redacted] for [redacted], scanning bananas for 30 hours a week is simply gas money for their watercraft and ATVs. Throw in working there for well over 20 years with her hourly rate of pay and she’s got enough gas money for her neighbor’s car. Career grocery cashiers can make over $20/hr. plus get all that union gobbledygook once they decide to hang up their apron. For the money and benefits it’s easy to see why they stick around doing the most mundane and brainless job any human can do.

But I’ve got more than cars to feed. I’ve got a family.

picardOh, speaking of unions, here’s another thing about my job: union dues. Granted, they are minimal but when you’re working less than 25 hours a week those few bucks missing from your check would have been nice to have. As of now, the only major thing I’ve seen from my union membership is ridiculously cheap health insurance for me and Anthony. Yes, I’ll take it, but as far as the rest of my contributions go, I have no idea what they do with them. I’m not a big fan of unions to begin with. (An aside: it’s been my experience that the union reps and employees never seem happy unless they are stirring up trouble. When I first went to the local office to join, the environment felt extremely tense, almost as if they were waiting for a strike to break out so they could go out and enjoy some good ol’ picketing and mudslinging.)

Pay raises have been incremental. After so many hours, I get a dime added to my hourly rate so as of now, I think I’ve earned 20 cents since my start in February with my next raise due after working another 970 hours or something like that.  But in the end it doesn’t matter because now that I’ve been “promoted” I have moved up to some new stupid level according to the Great and Powerful Union which means that they are now taking more money from my check. What’s better? If I don’t make sure those deductions are being taken out, I get fired.

I worked hard for this?

Also, my “promotion” simply means that I’ve been trained in a few departments so now they can pass me around like a joint at a Foghat concert. I was made to feel valuable but in the end it only seems like they are getting more work out of me for less labor costs. And what will this “promotion” get me? Eventually working as a cashier years later?

Working in the Bakery has been a sheer joy and I say that tongue-in-cheek. Outside of writing frosted sentiments on tops of cakes, my skills in the department are minimal at best which makes me more of a liability. I can’t make cakes, I’ve been shown very little, and whatever I do has been critiqued by yet another person who has made a career out of doing mundane tasks (read: throwing dough in an oven).

Yeah, so I should be happy to have a job and blah blah blah. I get that and I am, but there are an awful lot of quid pro quos that go along with that. And with all of this worrying/anger, I tend to eat much more than I normally do. Tell that to the two Big Macs I had for dinner yesterday.

I spent last night searching the job sites and found nothing. I then thought about what exactly it is I want to do and I can’t really answer that. All I know is that this place is draining me quicker than any other place I’ve worked and it’s time to move on.

I did that back when I was in college. One semester was filled with art classes, all of which I needed to earn my AA in Advertising Design. I worked hard to keep my grades up and loved every single class I was taking because, for all intents and purposes, I am an artist. One class in particular was Freehand Drawing and the instructor, whose name I forget but will refer to as Alan, was a free spirit like no other I’ve met. At the time I was taking his class, I was working the day shift at a photo processing lab. All was fine until I had heard they were going to move me overnight, a move which would have impeded on my school schedule.

Despite my protests, the move was going to happen anyway and I was faced with the choice of going to school or working. It was impossible to do both. Frustrated, I spoke to Alan about the situation and wanted to get his input on the matter. I told him I felt like quitting on principle because they knew I was going to school. His words still resonate whenever I’m faced with a challenge with work or anything I’m confused about.

He simply smiled and said, “If you don’t do it now, you’re not going to do it at all.”

Damn. Damn. DAMN. Why must you us artistic people be so freaking deep and romantic?

I went to work the next day, walked into the HR office and much to their amazement, quit on the spot. It felt good and Alan was proud of me for being so bold and facing the music. But now things are a bit different. I can’t just up and quit something; I’ve got to have something lined up. And as of now, I don’t and for all that college I took, I didn’t finish my courses to earn my degree.

So after searching for a job last night, I thought it would be good to do some meditation and hopefully get some insight on things. But before I did, I sent out this tweet because, well, that’s what people do with random thoughts these days:

To “summon your muse” in the writing world means you’re looking for inspiration, a plot, an idea. But the thing is that a writer, or any artistic person, should never be void of any idea. I mean, really. I’ve gotten this far on this post telling you how much my job sucks coupled with an old war story from my college days. I find it hard to shut off my mind long enough to meditate.

Anyway, what I got from meditating 15 minutes was a feeling of calmness, of bringing a big, fat ball of positive energy into my life which I could almost physically touch and see even with my eyes closed. At any rate I reached for it, grabbed it, and brought it in. And what I took away from it was this.

I have to be my own muse. I have to do my own thing. Waiting around expecting anyone to do it for me is just silly.

I want to take the family places, do things, even have a nice dinner with them now and then. I can’t do that shoving dough in an oven, bagging groceries, or whatever else I do at the store.

More than ever, I need to make a move and better myself.

And I am starting right now.