The Jennifer Chronicles - Volume XIV
June 16, 2010Making Friends and Influencing People - Joan Style - Part II
Monday - 5:15 a.m.
An hour not fit for man nor beast. Nor woman contemplating a spinning class. I lie in bed, staring up at the ceiling. Am I really going to do this? Seriously? I hadn't done a decent workout in almost six months. And it's beginning to show. Damn. I drag out of bed, consoling myself that I'm not doing this just for the exercise. No, I have a higher purpose. I am going to network.
Networking. One of those quaint, business expressions I have picked up since becoming Duncan's "padawan" learner. In theory, networking is all about making connections, getting acquainted with people from a plethora of industries, and cluttering your purse with as many business cards as possible. You are your own marketer, you are the product you are marketing, and you are paving the way for a future of new opportunities. In reality, you are compiling a list of people to call if you get tossed from your job and you're looking for a new one.
For me, the whole concept boils down to this: networking is the process in which you talk to people that under normal circumstances you would never speak to. To make it even more delightful, I am going to attempt this networking while sweating like a pig in spandex exercise wear.
I arrive at the gym. Good Joanie, I think. Excellent. Looking like a gym dork by coming in late is frowned upon.
I enter the workout room like I am scoping out a war zone for boobytraps. There are four women already there, on their bikes, pedaling. They all wear standard black yoga pants and workout top. Do I have my black yoga pants and workout top? Check. The geek meter is still at zero.
I make eye contact with the women. I smile. They glare at me. Is this some kind of special spinning etiquette? We're here to "work out" so we don't smile? Lighten up ladies, get a grip, have a Twinkie. I didn't get up at 5 a.m. to put up with spin snobbery.
I pedal for a warm up. There is another woman next to me, pedaling like a pro. Great. My first class and I'm next to Suzy Spinmaster. She is around my age, wearing a ponytail high up on her head and standard black workout gear. She is thin, toned, her skin is as clear as a bell. She sits ramrod straight and checks her phone compulsively while the instructor is setting up. She is one of me. I can tell.
She glares at me.
It's "go time." The regular lights go out. The room is bathed in dim purple lighting. I see the instructor's plan. She doesn't want us to see the clock. She doesn't want us to know how long the torture of riding in place is going on. It's like being stuck in an isolation tank only without the water. Low lights, ear splitting music, and a group of deeply demented people on stationary bikes, pedaling like lunatics, going nowhere. All while someone wearing an expensive headset yells at you. I didn't want to consider the philosophical ramifications.
Joan's Spinning Diary:
Pedaling. Head is bowed. Sweat forming. Tension knob is at 0.
OKAY! TURN THAT TENSION KNOB TO THE RIGHT! ON A SCALE OF ZERO TO FIFTEEN, I WANT IT AT AN EIGHT!
In your dreams, babe. Mental note: if anyone comes near my bike to touch the tension knob, be prepared to defend area. Second mental note: beat Carrie senseless next time I see her.
OKAY! STAND UP IN THE SADDLE!
Why? Why would anyone want to do that? Now standing in the saddle. Extremely uncomfortable. Wonder what would happen if I pitched off the bike right now. Would everyone stop spinning to help me or would I be lying on the ground while everyone continued to spin around me? Legs are numb. Must sit down.
OKAY! TURN THOSE TENSION KNOBS TO THE RIGHT! GOING UPHILL NOW!
I can't open the top of my water bottle. I can't network if I die of dehydration. Joanie doesn't like this. Joanie needs to hydrate. I look to my right. Suzy Spinmaster is pedaling easily up the hill. I hate her.
RUN! RUN! RUN! DON'T CHEAT YOURSELF!
Cheating myself. That's an interesting idea. Can you eat and pedal at the same time? That could be a new class. I could call it "Munch and Burn." For the love of God and all that's holy, what time is it?
GO!GO!GO! YOU'RE IN A RACE! YOU WANT TO WIN!
My lungs fell out. I went to take a breath and they just fell out. They're lying on the floor, flopping around. I look casually to the side. Suzy Spinmaster isn't even breaking a sweat. Maybe I could pretend those lungs don't belong to me. I could look over at her, point toward them, and mouth, "Are those yours?"
OKAY! TURN THOSE TENSION KNOBS BACK TO THE LEFT! DOWN TO A TWO!
Zero. I'm at zero. I've been at zero for the seventeen hours we've been in this class, pedaling like rats on a wheel. Everyone slows down, gets off their bikes. Time to stretch. Lift one leg, place foot on the seat, lean forward to stretch. I don't laugh out loud at this. I don't like to be rude.
The lights are back on. I glance over at Suzy Spinmaster. I don't bother to smile. I'm a spinning lightweight, an object of her scorn and derision.
She nods her head at me and leaves.
Well, it's not exactly networking, but it's something.
I'm in my office, slumped at my desk. I need a doughnut and a nap. I'm not having either. This is going to be a terrible Monday.
Duncan wanders into my office, carrying a cup of coffee. I stare up at him in silence. His eyebrows rise.
"How was your weekend?" I ask.
"Better than yours. Did something happen to your cheek?"
"I got beaten up by an alternative rock musician."
Now his brow furrows. "You look exhausted."
"I went to a spinning class this morning. My lungs fell out halfway through the class. Don't worry. I'll still make the eleven o'clock meeting."
He smiles but I see he's confused. He places the coffee cup down on my desk. "I think you need this more than I do."
He is so right.
"What happened to the jazz festival?" he asks.
"Didn't make the cut. How was Laguna?"
A one syllable answer. Stunning.
He thinks for a long minute. "An alternative rock musician?"
He chuckles. "I'd like to hear it. You'll have to tell me about it some time."
And he walks out leaving me sitting at my desk, my mouth hanging open.
Next Week: Making Friends and Influencing People - Joan Style - Part III
Looking for a great beach read? Pick up a copy of Project Jennifer and see how it all began. Project Jennifer is available at your local Borders and Barnes and Noble, and online at http://www.amazon.com, http://www.bn.com, and http://www.borders.com