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Weirdest trip to GNC ever

Posted Aug 06 2010 12:00am

I did it again. I let myself get down to the bare naked nothingness of endurance nutrition products. I’ve got exactly enough Gu Roctane to get through this weekend’s long run, but that’s about it. No electrolyte replacement drink for during the run. No recovery beverage for after (although that one I could get by without by just forcing myself to to eat something after my run. I just generally don’t feel like eating right away and would prefer to just drink my post run nutrients instead). But that I’ve wound up in this position again would be a shock to no one who’s had the opportunity to peek in my fridge pre-grocery shopping day which doesn’t happen until I’m down to something like fossilized pickles and a variety of condiments to choose from for meal preparation.

With no time to head out to a running store today, I went for the next best thing GNC. They don’t carry my first choice of electrolyte drink and their (or Gatorade’s rather) recovery drink is way overpriced in my humble opinion (if you’re going to charge me $5 for a recovery drink I better feel pretty much like I’ve just spent an entire weekend at a spa being pampered), but it would have to suffice. So with both kiddos in tow, a loud DING signaled our entrance into the treasury of general nutrition products.

And right off the bat, I should have known this was not going to be your average shopping experience (but is it ever really your average shopping experience when you’ve got two little ones with you?). There was no one in the store. No one. Not even an employee. Now, I would just generally assume the employee was in the back somewhere checking Facebook on their Iphone or something, but this…this was GNC. And anybody who’s ever set foot in a GNC (at least the ones by my house) for any reason at all knows, that upon entering, you are as a general rule of thumb approached and greeted by an employee who will offer to help and/or attempt to sell you something. And even if you assure them you know just exactly precisely what you are looking for, they will mercilessly follow you throughout the store until it’s time for you to checkout at which point they will make their best attempt to up sell or convince you of some additionally needed can’t live without product (try this chew. It’s amazing!).

Now, it’s their job. I get that. They are always friendly and it’s far better than being ignored, but I must admit, sometimes I get the impression that some of these poor GNC employees have been shipped straight in off a desert island where they’ve had no contact with other real actual live people. They’re just so excited to talk to you that they will without fail force an awkward conversation upon you whether you like it or not no matter how many subtle back off signs you try to send their way. (Really, I'm not anti-social, but when my kids are around, I am get in, get what I need and get before a meltdown occurs kind of gal. I'd much rather deal with meltdowns at home in private that publicly in a store).

So right off, not being approached, this was weird. I wandered around looking for Gatorade Endurance (or whatever they’re calling it now… G2 Pro Series I think), their souped up version of the regular Gatorade, and finally found it in the back of the store all the while my 4 year old is going “where is everybody mommy? I don’t think anybody works here.” I grabbed a box, mentally calculating how many runs it would be before I could get to the actual running store and passed out the appropriate number of recovery drinks for my children to carry since I couldn’t very well carry my toddler, a box of G2 AND 3 recovery drinks without dropping at least some of my precious cargo, more specifically my child, and headed to the counter. Still no employee.

We set everything down and I figured an employee would be out in a minute considering I do, in fact, have the loudest children on the face of the earth (I’ll put them up against anybody.) and they were beginning to get revved up. The toddler will only be held for so long and my 4 year old goes nowhere without whistling or singing or some combination of the two and she was bored.

A couple minutes passed and finally a guy comes out the back, drying off his hands (which yeah, sort of grosses me out, although I suppose I should be thankful he washed them right?) and just gives me this dumbfounded look. “Oh!” He says, “I didn’t know you were here. I didn’t hear you. Have you been here long? Usually there’s a bell.” There was a bell, but I really just wanted to get going since things had been fairly uneventful so far and that rarely lasts long, so I said “Oh. It’s ok. No big deal. I’m all ready to checkout.” He walks over to the counter still talking about how he was sorry and he can’t believe he didn’t hear us. It must have been because he was brushing his teeth.

Um…yeah. I guess brushing your teeth would make it kind of hard to hear a little bell. Now, is it just me or was this kind of a weird thing to be doing at 10:30 in the morning at your place of employment? And if not, because yeah, I can think of some reasons why one might be brushing their teeth at the very beginning of their work shift (he forgot to do it at home, was out of toothpaste at home and had to pick it up on the way, has massive gingivitis that requires him to brush his teeth more frequently than the average bear, ate a particularly stinky back room snack, GNC has very strict teeth and gum cleanliness policy, etc), but why for the love of all that’s holy would you tell someone this as if it’s a perfectly normal thing to do? Are you trying to start some teeth brushing revolution? Make frequent brushing the "in thing" to do? And furthermore, how long exactly does it take to brush one’s teeth?

But then it gets better, especially in light of the whole Power Bar debacle . Once we have satisfactorily addressed his teeth brushing and lack of hearing, he takes a look at the products on the counter (3 recovery drinks and a box of G2 Pro Series) and says this: “So who’s gonna be drinking all this?”

Really guys, I’m not easily offended, I swear. But is it so totally outrageous to think this little mamma would be using those products? Because when I responded, “me,” you should have seen the look of shock on his face. “So what do you do? Do you run or something?” He asked. Now really, I don’t believe he was purposefully trying to offend me or anything and I’m a polite person willing to give the benefit of the doubt, so I just smiled and said, “yep. I run.”

Sensing an opportunity or maybe thinking he’d do me a favor by saving me some money, he then made an effort to sell me on another recovery drink by Gatorade “the little ones” Had I seen those? I hadn’t. I wasn’t even aware Gatorade made a “little recovery drink.” “Oh yeah,” he told me and took me over to show me G1 Prime, you know, Gatorade’s PRE workout drink. So I asked the dude, “Is that a recovery drink?” His response: “Well no. But you can use it as one. I do and my kids love it.” (do I even need to add a comment here?)

After convincing him that I was all set, he headed back to the counter to ring me up and proceeded to ask the one question that I had seriously hoped he would not. “So how far is your run this weekend?” I know. I know. He was just making conversation and I would never have expected him to guess that I was training for a marathon, but experience has taught me that this can sometimes not be a fun question to answer. It’s not that I’m embarrassed about what I do or worried about what people think. You just can’t really answer the question “how far is your run?” with anything over 10 miles to someone who doesn’t themselves do that kind of running without an explanation. Sometimes less, sometimes more, but really, an explanation is nearly always required.

And really I have no idea why 10 miles is the arbitrary cut off because 10 miles is a pretty dang far run too. But 10 just seems to be more acceptable. If I tell somebody 10 they might say, “Wow”, but there’s no jaw dropping or “I’m sorry what"?” like if you say you’re running 15 or 20. And sometimes, I’m just not looking to take the time to give an explanation which almost always makes me feel obligated to also give a dissertation on why endurance running is so awesome and so very not crazy (like brushing your teeth at work sort of is ;-) See. It’s all relative).

But I’m also not a liar. So I answered him, “I don’t know. It’s either going to be 18 or 20 this weekend.” Insert jaw dropping here. “18 or 20?” as if suddenly he was entirely unsure of what sort of measuring system I was using to calculate my distance. “Miles.” I told him. Which then led to some head shaking and talk of another guy who works there that does that and my dissertation (but don’t worry. He just started biking and so he totally gets it.) And then, since he’s now determined I’m some sort of serious athlete (whatever that means), he pulls out some giant tub of expensive powder that is apparently “the best recovery drink on the market.” So much for using G1 as my recovery drink eh?

And here’s the best part. All the while this conversation is going on, my toddler is flirting with him. Grinning and making little eyes and my 4 year old is really really really quiet. (Alert. Alert. Danger) Eventually helpful Mr. Healthy Gums GNC man finally bags up my stuff and I take a look down to find said 4 year old removing her hand from her pocket. Now what could she possibly be putting in her pocket at the GNC store?

So I ask her. Only to find the little thief has found the “Take a penny. Leave a penny.” dish and decided to go ahead and take a few pennies. “It doesn’t bother him.” She assured me. “He didn’t even see.” After forcing her to return the pennies and a long conversation about stealing, we got into the car.

“Honey, you know, if a grown up were to do what you just did, the police would arrest them and put them into jail.” I continued once the girlies were both strapped in their respective seats. “Well, I’m not a grown up.” she reminded me. Excellent point. To which I replied, “well, sometimes they put kids in jail too.” (what’s up now my little 4 year old?) This brought silence as she pondered what I had just said.

I reached for my cell phone to call my mom and tell her about what had just happened. While I waited for her to answer, I started backing up to drive home. “Who are you calling Mommy?” my 4 year old asked. I didn’t immediately answer and this brought panic. “Mommy! Mommy! Who are you calling? Is it the police? Mommy, please don’t call the police. Please don’t call the police. Mommy! Mommy! Mommy, put the phone down please!”

My mom didn’t answer, so I put the phone down thinking I might as well take advantage of the opportunity that had presented itself. “Why don’t you want me to call the police?” I asked her. “Because I don’t want to go to jail.” she replied. “Oh. Are you going to steal anything again?” I asked. “No Mommy, I won’t.” Well ok then. Point made.

See. Missing employees, teeth brushing, and child theft or theft by child rather. Weirdest GNC trip ever. And it only took 15 minutes.


'Til next time...

P.S. Drawing a winner for the Scape review right after my run. Keep an eye out.

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