My new gym’s really great. They give you towels for free for every workout (not like my old gym where you had to pay 15 rmb to “rent” one). You simply go to the “towel counter,” give them your membership card, and they will give you two towels (one for shower, and one for your workout –which is fantastic when you’re a cardio freak like me!) as well as a towel card, that you then have to give them back in order to get your membership card when you leave.
The other day at the gym after a long workout, my friend lost her towel card. We looked everywhere but couldn’t find it. So she went up to the counter with her used towel and explained, asking if she still could get her membership card back.
The girl behind the towel counter froze.
-You’ve… lost… you card!? But… like… how?
My friend and I exchanged glances.
-Eh… not sure how. Just lost it?! She said with an attempt of a smile.
It was clear that the towel counter girl took this situation quite seriously. She went to make some phone calls and then came back to us.
-You need to pay 10 rmb and then you can get your membership card. If you find the lost towel card you have to come back with it, before we close today, and I will give you your 10 rmb back!
-If you find it tomorrow we won’t give you your 10 rmb back.
-OK… no problems.
Later the same day my friend and I were at her couch, “rewarding” ourselves with ice cream after our big workout (that’s the whole point, right?!) when her phone rang:
-Hi, this is Cherry (?) from the gym, we have found your towel card!
-So, do you want to come and get your 10 rmb?
My friend and I exchanged glances. It was 8.30pm on a Sunday and we’d managed to heat up her living room to a quite comfortable “lounging around” temperature.
-Naaaah… I don’t think I will come today.
Long silence in the phone before the girl (Cherry?) said that she really had to come today in order to get her 10 rmb, and that the might be able to do an exception and give her the 10 rmb if she’d come the next day instead, but that she couldn’t promise anything.
It took my friend quite a while to explain that she didn’t care too much about coming back in order to pick up 10 rmb and that she thought it was OK if the gym kept those 10 rmb as a fee for her sloppiness. Cherry almost wouldn’t have it, but then finally agreed to hang up.
Afterwards my friend and I sat, mouths wide open, thinking of how pretty fantastic China is. In Sweden you have to pay an equivalent amount of 10-20 rmb in order to use a public bathroom and sometimes the machine eats your coins without giving you access to any loo. In China, people call you about a 10 rmb fee and really try their best to pay you back.
I know what I prefer. Even though we were too lazy to go back.