A month ago, my treadmill broke. Just stopped. Unbelievably, I was on it when it lapsed into such a deep coma that I couldn't get any life signals on it at all. It wouldn't beep, wouldn't turn on, the console and the display were dead. Nothing, complete silence. It had, however, been the day I was waiting for these last five years, the day that my investment would pay off. This dead treadmill was my dream, full and bountiful and golden, come to fruition to pay me handsomely for five years of patience and five hundred dollars' worth of Sears Home Electronics warranties, as well.
As soon as the treadmill died (the miniscule amount of sweat on my brow hadn't even dried), I picked up the phone to call Sears to tell them that their treadmill was dead and that my warranty declared that someone come out and fix it. And if it couldn't be fixed, then a new one, a brand new treadmill, is delivered upon my doorstep as a reward for paying $100 a year for half a decade.
I wanted a new treadmill. Have you seen them? They have built-in fans and cup holders and fluffy shock absorbers that make climbing at a six-percent incline like walking up the cottony steps of Heaven. They even have treadmills now that you can just stand on and burn calories. So when I called Sears to claim my prize, they told me a technician would come out to repair the problem ? in four weeks. By then, I assumed, I would gain enough weight to grow out of my fat clothes and take it as a personal attack when Kirstie Alley yelled from the TV during Jenny Craig commercials. "That's in a month!" I cried to the operator.
"A month is not four weeks, ma'am," the operator scolded me.
FOUR WEEKS. And then I looked at my old, dusty treadmill and agreed. I could wait for four weeks for a new treadmill. Four weeks and a brand new one, with built-in fans and the Stairway to Heaven belt, would be in its place. I waited patiently during those weeks, as I gained weight and went up a size. Had to buy new pants. Had to buy two pairs of new pants. Had to buy a skirt. And three shirts. Getting fatter. Waiting for the treadmill. Watchin' lots of TV. Started using safety pins to keep my shirts closed.
"How fat do you plan on getting?" Kirstie Alley screamed at me. "Last night your ass grew a third cheek!"
The days of the calendar finally peeled away to the day of reckoning; the day before, I started cleaning my office to get the piles of boxes and house overflow off the treadmill where they had accumulated for the past month while my body doubled and dimpled. I cleaned the dust off the treadmill belt, wiped it from the dead, lifeless console. I detailed that treadmill to show the technician how good I was to it. It took hours. Then the phone rang. It was Sears. The technician couldn't make it, so was tomorrow okay? Even though I ground my teeth (which had also gained weight) together, I wanted to appease the technician, to grease the gears, shall we say, and make him or her more favorable in granting me my precious treadmill dream. Sure, I said, I can wait one more day.
Then the hallowed day arrived. It was yesterday. The technician was supposed to arrive between one and five p.m.
It was 1:30.
The phone rang.
"Yep, this is Ted," he said. "So you're treadmill is running slow, the report says."
"NO!" I yelped, desperate that he might not fully comprehend the starkness of the situation. "It's not slow! It's just dead. It stopped when I was on it. And there's been nothing since."
Ted was silent.
"Nothing!" I cried again for emphasis.
"Anything on the console?" Ted asked. "Does it light up, beep, make any noise?"
"No," I replied. "It's just dead."
Ted paused for a minute.
"Do me a favor," he said. "Do you see where thee power cord connects to the treadmill?"
"Yes," I said.
"Now, next to it, there's a little switch," he instructed. "Push it twice."
"Okay, hang on," I said with an exaggerated sigh, agitated that I had to crawl on the treadmill to push a stupid button that I knew wouldn't work. The treadmill was dead. There was no bringing it back. I just wanted him to do his job, get to my house and give me a new one. I crawled on the treadmill, found the button, and pushed it. Twice. BEEP. I heard from above me. BEEP.
"I hear a BEEP!" Ted said. "That'll do you. If it happens again, hit that circuit breaker switch. I'm gonna get going, I'm running late." He hung up before I could even respond, before I could even start to cry. With my month-long dream dashed, I know one thing for sure. Not just because of my new third cheek, I'm going to walk that treadmill until one of us goes. I'm getting that free treadmill.