“Pincus, Pay The Two Dollars”

When I was growing up there was a joke . . . or maybe it was a parable my father used to tell my brother,  my sister and me.  It went something like this:

A man, Pincus, had been stopped by a policeman for a very minor offense, something like jaywalking.  If he paid the fine, which was two dollars, he would be off on his merry way. But he insisted that he hadn’t done anything wrong, argues with the cop and winds up being arrested.  When he appears before a judge, he tells his side of the story which doesn’t persuade the court and he is sent back to his cell.  Where he stays for some time.  After a period of months he finally contacts his lawyer who visits him and when he hears all the facts advises, “Pincus, pay the two dollars”.

If there is more to that story, it resides with countless other things that I’ve set aside and have moved to some storage room, the key to which I’ve lost.  In any event, the story occurred to me because not long ago, for about a month or so, I was Pincus.

Sometime in November I had received a promotional postcard from a local gym advertising a trial membership—3 months for $149.  I thought this was perfect for me; it would provide me a chance for some serious exercise during the worst of the winter without having to enroll as a yearly member.  And the price, I thought, was very reasonable. The only caveat according to the postcard was that I would need to sign up by November 30th to take advantage of the offer.

True to form, I waited until the very end of November to enroll in my “trial membership”.  Although I was feeling pretty sick at the time,  I dragged myself over to the gym feeling somewhat heroic and virtuous in my effort.  There,  I had an intake with the manager, Lenny.  It was in that meeting that Lenny explained to me that the three-month “trial membership” was for November, December and January; meaning that one of the three months had already passed.  I tried to explain to him how misleading the promotion was; how the deadline to sign up by November 30th couldn’t possibly relate to a month that had already passed; how I had dragged my ass over to the gym despite feeling like I was going to die; how…. well you know the rest.

This went on for a while until finally, and this gives you an idea of how sick I was feeling, both I and my Inner Jew relented and bought the three-month “trial membership” which consisted of two months. I put that incident in a different storage room, the key to which I always wear on a chain around my neck.

Don't Leave Home Without it

Don’t Leave Home Without It

When my “trial membership” concluded at the end of January, surprisingly, I decided to continue at the gym and told the staff at the desk that I wanted to enroll for a yearly membership.  I was told that I’d have to pay an initiation fee of $49.  I argued that I wasn’t a new member but rather one who was continuing beyond his “trial membership”.  They were nice enough but said they couldn’t waive the fee and didn’t know what to do in my case and that I would have to speak with, guess who . . . Lenny.

I didn’t think I should have to pay the initiation but I saw how that might be a gray area.  But then I took out the key to my second storage room and carefully removed my gripe about the month I’d been screwed out of and quickly calculated that the one month I had been shorted was worth about $49.67.  Which seemed close enough to the $49 that was currently being asked of me.  So close, in fact, that I thought this was one of those, “the Lord moves in mysterious ways” episodes and that divine intervention was adding to my determination not to pay the initiation fee.

What happened was that for much of the month of February, whenever I’d go to the desk to sign in, the person at the desk would see my account, notice that I hadn’t enrolled and gently suggest that I needed to speak with Lenny.  This went on for a while because I really didn’t want to see Lenny.  I had a good sense of how that encounter was going to go.  But after a few weeks, I started to feel sheepish whenever I’d go to the gym.  Almost as if I was sneaking in.

By month’s end I was almost hiding my face when I showed up. And then it dawned on me. I had somehow turned into Pincus.  I had gotten caught up in a game of self-righteousness chicken which I was losing.  And losing badly. But I didn’t need a lawyer to tell me what to do.  So I paid the initiation fee and enrolled for the year.  And now I stride into the place as if I own it.


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2 Responses to ““Pincus, Pay The Two Dollars””

  1. Sister Says:

    As I recall the lawyers name was Pincus and the client wanted to pay the$2.00 but the lawyer insisted continuing case.
    But, I know someone who can verify this for us .

  2. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    Just further proof that we were raised in different wolf packs.

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