Sunday, January 19, 2020

These Hands Vs. Trespassing



Snow and rain hit Chicago this past Friday.  I was not surprised when the gym remained empty.  Changes in the weather always have an effect on participation.  Unfortunately, the weather doesn't keep out everybody.

A guy with a backpack walked in and asked if he could get a workout in.  Seeing the guy was an adult, I told him the cost of the boxing class for his age group.  "But there's no one in here," the guy said.  My spidey-senses went up.  "It doesn't matter.  The youths go here for free.  The adults have to pay for the class, and I have to account for the people who are in here," I answered.  The guy walked over to one of the speed bags after roaming around the room and started hitting it.  I informed the guy that until he registered, there could be no using the equipment.

The guy walked out of the gym, but went and sat on the steps leading up to the back exit door.  Another hour passed by.  The guy walked back in asking if I had punch mitts. "There is equipment here," I answered.  The guy wasn't aware that I had seen him looking inside the equipment room earlier.  When the guy started in with wanting a free workout again, I point-blank asked him, "Didn't we have this conversation an hour ago?" I repeated the cost of the class as well as the general rules and regulations surrounding it. 

The guy kept pushing.  "I'm not about to do anything that's going to get me in trouble with the supervisor.  I like to be able to keep paying my rent," I dryly said.  Then I proceeded to get an earful of how the field house is a "community building" and "people should be allowed to come in and do things," plus a sob story about being homeless.  I kept repeating the rules of the park district.  We went back and forth with temperatures rising by the minute.  The argument stopped when Rick walked in and cut it off. 

Sometimes, the youths will try to use the gym without going through the right procedures.  However, adults try to pull that more often than the youths.  I was glad no youths were in the room because I have no idea how far that guy would have gone to get what he wanted. Incidents like that point to what is lacking in terms of security measures at LaFollette Park. 

I know there were staff people sitting at the front desk counter who saw the guy walk in.  Rick had spoken to them when he arrived shortly after the guy in the gym and I got into it.  Whenever I'm up at the front desk, I'm noticing who is walking in the front entrance.  I will address people who appear to be strolling through without a real agenda.  Unfortunately, it seems that I'm one of the very few employees who are cognizant about keeping a watch out.  I guess others don't notice the news stories about shootings and other assaults that have been going on with alarming regularity in workplaces.

Security staff is not consistent nor effective at LaFollette.  I might see a security guard one day, and not see another one there for a couple of weeks.  The majority of the guards, with one or two exceptions, sit behind the front desk yakking and laughing with staff or watching the Internet on their cell phones.  I don't know of any guards who have actually stayed until the field house closes for the day.  The last time there was a shooting in the park, there was no security guard on duty.

Regardless of the fact that I'm on a cane, these hands of mine still work. I've never felt safe at my job. It concerns me that there was a real possibility that I might have had to use my hands this past Friday.  It concerns me even more that if things had become very serious that day, nothing much would have been done other than people saying, "Oh, that's too bad that happened to Hillari."

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Patience and Breakage


The one uppercut bag in the gym crashed down to the floor while Richard, who returned to the program after a couple of years, was using it.  I knew one of the bags in the gym would fall eventually, but I thought it would be one of the heavy bags.  I have a new one in the supply room, but I will need help in putting it up. 

Speaking of returns, Jamire's appearance, after having been gone for three years, wasn't exactly welcomed.  The same issues that were going on back them - not fully participating nor paying attention, whining, etc. - are still on display.  I read Jamire the riot act, in front of his mom, about the expectations that are still in place.

Rick has returned to help out, but Steve still expects him to fill out a volunteer form.  I understand that is the park district policy.  However, I'm in agreement with Rick being concerned about how his personal information is going to be handled by other staff members.  Several months ago, information regarding money that I owe to the city was lying around the front desk counter for everybody to see.  That stuff happens too often down there like the gossip and backbiting.  I don't want Rick to be discouraged from helping and being frustrated in his efforts.  Sahia hasn't been to the gym to volunteer in months, and due to family matters, she probably is not going to return.  I would like for Rick to keep helping out.

I don't make it a secret that my patience with most of the youths' behaviors at the field house, whether the youths are in my program or not, is extremely thin.  I need another adult there to give me a chance to go off into a corner and take a few deep breaths whenever something happens inside the gym that really works my nerves. 

Speaking of working my nerves, one of the teens who keeps bombarding me with questions about joining the boxing program was at it again recently.  I learned their parents don't want to sign him up.  The teen grumbled about "my parents won't support what I want to do", but that is everybody's story.  I was discouraged from going into the military, from being a police officer, and from being an actress/singer.  Most youths refuse to accept that they are going to have to wait until they become 18 years old before they can do whatever. 

Upon learning their parents would have to come in to complete registration, the teen got on his cell phone to call his mom.  She refused to come down to the field house.  That particular day was her birthday.  Why did the teen think it was a good idea to expect their mom was going to interrupt their special day for something they had already given no as their answer?  Really?

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Yawning At The End


Earlier this month, I received a surprise visit from Doneisha and her son Tony.  Tony was in the boxing class about a couple of years ago; these days, Tony is in military school.  He's doing well.  His mom is thinking about returning to boxing herself to get some exercise.

This month has mostly been quiet.  I don't have the gym open during the breaks, not even during this one which is the longest of the year.  I always need to decompress, especially after this recent fall session.  Dealing with Caiden, Keon, and Kevin's attitudes was NOT the highlight of that session.  I keep checking the roster on the computer and hoping they haven't changed their minds and decided to sign up for class again.  So far, so good.

As usual, my supervisor has expressed concerns about the low numbers in the youth classes.  Only Elijah, his sister Jazzmyne, and Richard, another kid who used to be in the class a couple of years ago, are registered.  I found some old registration forms to use because I'm not leaving in the middle of classes to sign up anyone for class. The usual habit of most is to not sign up until the second or third week of class.  I've learned that people aren't thinking about signing their kids up for extracurricular activities during the holiday season. 

Another reason for not leaving the class to register people is that I don't have Sahia in the gym to watch when I have to step away.  She's been gone due to a family medical situation since mid-summer.  I'm beginning to have my doubts that she will be able to return.  My supervisor gave Rick, a former boxing coach, a volunteer application when he noticed Rick was showing interest in hanging around the gym.  There was some resistance on Rick's part about filling out the form.  Now I haven't seen nor heard from Rick in weeks.  I left a voice message for him, but I didn't receive a return call.

I'm not making any predictions for the year 2020.  There are too many improvements that need to happen in the boxing program that may not take place - again - next year.