"I'd like to look at treadmills." Seemed a reasonable request to make in a sporting goods store.
The salesgirl waved a perfectly manicured hand. "They're over there."
I went over there.
Then I came back. "I'd like to try one out."
She stared at me as if I'd said I'd like to perform an immoral act with a particularly unhygienic duck. "Try -- one -- out?" she said, disbelief dripping from every syllable.
"Yes, try one out," I repeated. That was my story, and I was sticking to it.
A bit of background: I love my new house, but I do miss living in a place where my front door was 96 merry-steps from a secluded, well-lit jogging trail. I felt safe running in the local park even in the dark, I never felt like people were staring at me, and all I had to worry about was having to share the path with skateboarders (which beats the heck out of sharing a narrow road with cars).
My new neighborhood isn't really new; in fact it's fairly old. It doesn’t have amenities like jogging trails. Or sidewalks or streetlights, for the most part.
In a situation like this, the reasonable thing to do is, of course, to go shopping. But then, I thought it was reasonable to try out a treadmill before buying it, so what do I know. It was not a straightforward procedure.
The salesgirl had to get a manager to approve the request.
Then, of course, we had to figure out how to unfold the treadmill without the salesgirl chipping a nail.
And then how to turn it on.
By this point, the salesgirl was clearly wishing she'd stuck to her register and called Orlando from the back to come help me. Eventually the deed was done, Orlando carried the big heavy box to my car for me, and I went home with a new treadmill.
And ran into another problem...
You know how they say people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones? I’ve developed a variation on this: do not buy a motorized treadmill unless you live in a house that has modern wiring but not GFCI outlets.
It doesn't say that on the box. You have to open the box and read the manual to learn this information.
You must plug the treadmill into a surge protector, since electrical surges can fry the treadmill’s computer. Surge protectors mean you need to have a grounded outlet. You should not plug the treadmill into a GFCI outlet. (Searching on the Internet brought up stories of how the random electrical flow created by the treadmill motor makes the GFCI outlet think it needs to reset itself.)
Scene II, same sporting goods store, the next day
"I'd like to return this treadmill."
The salesgirl raised an impeccably groomed eyebrow. "Why?"
"I can't use it without having an electrician rewire my house. I want to get a manual treadmill."
Now she was looking at me as if the aforementioned waterfowl were not only unsanitary, but underage. It was time to call Orlando in the back. “Do we have any manual treadmills? No, not a manual for the treadmill… Oh. Okay.”
After consulting the poor long-suffering manager again, they found an “on clearance” manual treadmill in the back. The good news is that it was one-third the price of the motorized treadmill. The bad news is that I have the feeling it’s cheap in more than the monetary sense of the word. Still, I have to try something. I know myself well enough to know that buying a gym membership would not provide enough guilt to get me to use the place, and I can’t face running in my new neighborhood – probably someone would think I’d just stolen something and call the cops to report me.
So far, I’m not particularly impressed with this thing. The first time I stepped on the belt, it was like stepping onto ice: I slipped and needed the railing to keep from falling. After that, it got better. I can walk fairly steadily, but every now and then the belt gets stuck. (The belt was perhaps not evenly lubricated?) This is a major pain – suddenly stopping without warning strains the leg muscles. I can see why manual treadmills were used in prison as a form of punishment. I’m going at a slow walk so far; I can’t imagine trying to run on it if this keeps up.
Has anyone out there tried using a manual treadmill? Or plugging a regular treadmill into an 'open ground' outlet? Or does anyone out there happen to be a really handy electrician living in Southern Washington/Northern Oregon? (Well, it was worth a try asking.)
I’m thinking that this is still a matter of getting the lubricant evenly distributed. I’ve only tried the treadmill for a few minutes last night, so I’m not sure how much ‘breaking in’ needs to take place. If it doesn’t improve in another day or so, I’m afraid I’ll have to face that salesgirl again, which would rank right up there with dental surgery for pure joy.
On the other hand, it would mean that I could see Orlando again...