Bleg: On Exceptions to Rules

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35 Responses

  1. greginak says:

    Most gym rules don’t serve a purpose and most people don’t follow gym rules at any gym. Clothing…meh. There is no safety issue there. I nor do most people at my gym wipe down machines after we are done. Most of the people there don’t even work up a sweat so they don’t have anything to really wipe down. A quick wipe at most is going to get the sweat off, the intense wash some people do to the machine after they are done is germaphobia and a waste of time. Of course at this time of year we should have plenty of snow for xc skiing but we don’t be because the weather if completely sporked up. But i digress based on my personal annoyance.

    There are always those people on planes who are going to clog up the line by trying to jam a clearly over sized item in the overhead bin. And if they can get it in, it will take up more than there share of the bin leaving someone else screwed. If the FA’s don’t do something then a stern frowning is all we can do. The people who feel they are above the rules are irritating and ego cases. But most people do follow the rules which is what is important.Report

  2. Mike Schilling says:

    I am not sure why this gentlemen gets to be an exception to the rules.

    Maybe he owns the place.Report

  3. Kazzy says:

    Is it possible this man has worked out an agreement with the gym to work out as he does? More generally, is it possible you do not have sufficient information about the situation to even ask the questions you do here?Report

  4. dhex says:

    what’s the safety issue if he’s walking on a treadmill?Report

  5. zic says:

    Why does it matter?

    He’s an old guy, walking on a treadmill.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to zic says:

      zic, if we, as a society, let this old guy walk on the treadmill in slacks when there is a Clearly Posted rule about Suitable Attire, next thing you know women will think yoga pants are OK to wear to work out socializing.Report

      • greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

        And then dogs and cats sleeping together.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Stillwater says:

        We’re already there, greg. The old man should have been stopped long ago.Report

      • zic in reply to Stillwater says:

        You know, I care as little about the old guy on the treadmill as I did about the scientist with the shirt and the singer who used Nazi symbols or black face or whatever the outrage du jour might be in their latest youtube sensation. I think the only thing like this that really disturbs me is my friend who likes to walk around Portland hooping topless. She keeps getting arrested for it, even though there it isn’t illegal. Cops are not nice to her when they (illegally) arrest her, either.

        Otherwise, meh. Much ado about nothing. Leave people alone, let ’em dress how they want.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to zic says:

      @zic @stillwater @greginak

      I wrote above that it might not matter and that seems to be getting ignored in favor of unmitigated sarcasm.

      This doesn’t make me angry but it can be perplexing. And I think there are times when everyone sees one person breaking some rule or norm that everyone else is following and wonders what is up. This is probably a harmless variant. There are other times when the person breaking the rule/norm could be considered a jerk, asshole, and inconsiderate like the overhead baggage thing greg mentioned above. There are other times when the norm-breaker falls into a gray area where it is debateable about whether they are doing a jerk-move or not.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        This doesn’t make me angry but it can be perplexing.

        Perplexing? That different people respond to rules and rule-breakers differently?

        Man, if there was only a single rule about all that which everyone adhered to…Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        There’s nothing wrong with a little curiosity. Saul hasn’t expressed any outrage or seething resentment, or a desire to workout in his dinner jacket (on the off-chance he has a dinner jacket). Haven’t we all seen things in this general realm and experienced some curiosity?Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Sure. Here’s a polite way of saying it, then.

        Differently people react differently to rules and rule-breakers. THe idea that there’s a single rule governing our responses to how people react to rules and rule-breakers is just another rule to follow or break, and to react differently to in either case.

        And now that I’m thinking about it a bit, I think this post clarifies Saul’s perspective on a whole bunch of social issues. He’s just talking about rules and rule following. What rule are those arrogant law students employing when the bluff a pretty girl into heir bed?

        Well, if you think that outcome results from rules or rule-following or whatever-about-rules, then you’re missing something important.

        How old are you Saul? Is it unfair of me to think you oughta know better about all this stuff by now?

        Maybe it is.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        I guess what bugged me is that Saul could have had his curiosity satisfied by talking to any of the people actually involved in the scenario. Now, if his story was really just a way of exploring a broader issue… I don’t think he established that well. I’d point him to Tod’s writing as he does an amazing job of sharing an anecdote or narrative while not really making it about that anecdote or narrative but instead about something larger. I’m still not sure if Saul wants to talk about rule breaking in general or about this particular instance of rule breaking.Report

  6. Michael Cain says:

    I’m willing to cut considerable slack on walking shoes, and suspect the gym is too. Custom orthopedic shoes can be expensive. Some supports depend on having the proper shoe around them. For the elderly, many athletic shoes — particularly those with thick wrap-around rubber soles — can actually be hazardous.Report

  7. For whatever this is worth, I am a huge fan of these people. There used to be a man at the gym where I would occasionally work out who would bring his own leathery/furry helmet with him. Try to imagine a wrestler’s headgear, but make it leathery with a fur interior. Anyway, it had a caribiner on it and he would attach various workout mechanisms to it and then move weight using his neck muscles. It was bonkers to watch and nobody else did it, but nobody else bothered him either, probably because it was terrifying looking.

    Is there somebody you can ask? I’d be willing to bet that there’s a good/interesting explanation.Report

  8. Damon says:

    I’m sure I’d notice a guy like this, but I wouldn’t do or say anything. I might ask someone to see if they knew “what the deal was” with him out of curiosity, but I wouldn’t “report” him for violating the dress code.Report

  9. KatherineMW says:

    Maybe they just recognize that, given the type of exercise this guy is doing, there’s no real safety reason for him to wear gym attire? He’s just found a safe way to get some exercise, and if they imposed extra rules he might stop coming.

    If that is the reason, good for the gym management – they’re prioritizing the outcomes the rules are intended to produce (safety; wearing regular clothes doesn’t seem to be a huge problem for walking slowly on a treadmill) over having people follow them regardless of context.Report

  10. Kazzy says:

    Often times, rules are enacted so that they can be enforced as a last result. For instance, my gym technically has a rule against the use of cell phones on the floor. But the rule doesn’t simply say that you can’t talk on your cell phone on the floor — which wouldn’t be an unreasonable rule; the rule says you can’t even have a cell phone with you on the floor. But, of course, everyone has their phone on them. People listen to music on them, record their workouts, or simply kill time between sets/exercises. So why do they have the rule? Well, sometimes they use those rules to go after folks who might be engaging in an undesirable behavior but who are technically not breaking any rules. Sort of like going after Al Capone for tax evasion.

    So it is possible that the clothing rule is there so they can leverage it against objectionable members who just might so happen to find themselves in violation of it.

    For whatever it’s worth, in all my years of going to gyms (and I’ve frequented at least a half dozen over the past 10 years), I have never seen anyone cited for clothing violations. Hell, I worked out in my socks a few weeks back when I forgot my sneakers.Report

    • Gabriel Conroy in reply to Kazzy says:

      I do wonder if the no cell phone rules has a good reason, such as guarding against the possibility of someone taking unsolicited and unwelcome pictures of another.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy says:

      I’ve been told in no uncertain terms that I could not lift without shoes, and at another gym that I could not wear jeans.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg says:


        Enforcing a shoes/sneakers rule would be legitimate. I dropped a 10 pound plate squarely on my foot one time and even the minimalist shoes I had on probably made the difference between breaking it and just having a bad bruise. The only legitimate reason I could see to enforce a jeans rule if they were somehow concerned that the jeans could do damage to the benches. But that seems a bit misplaced.


        I think that might have been an initial rational. When cell phone cameras became the norm, I remember there being discussion about banning their use in locker rooms and/or on the gym floor. My hunch is that is much ado about nothing as the vast majority of people would never take unwelcome pictures of others and those who would are going to ignore the rule anyway. Establishing the rule seemed to be a response to technology moving faster than social norms/etiquette. I will say that I am mindful whenever I have my phone out in the locker room to make it as clear as possible that I am not taking any pictures. I think at this point, though, the cell phone ban is not enforced on its own merits. Hell… there’d be a riot if they did.Report

      • @kazzy

        Good point. While I don’t go to gyms anymore, I have been in places, like doctors’ offices, that have signs that say “for patient privacy, please don’t use cell phones” and yet people do and don’t get called out on it.

        If they’re not going to enforce that particular rule consistently, then they might as well not have it.Report

  11. Do you have any similar stories about seeing someone who was seemingly an exception to a universal rule in a situation? What was your reaction? Should people care when we see these exceptions or violations or just be cool and let them be?

    The first question is one of those things that I probably probably have an answer to, but it’s hard to explain. My usual reaction is to tsk-tsk, if only to myself. I do get angry when I see cars do that rolling stop thing at a stop sign or “turn right at a red light without even looking to see if anyone is coming from the direction opposite oncoming traffic” thing, but that’s at least partially me being overly priggish about how drivers should behave.

    As for your last question, I guess it depends on the rule being broken and the reason for it. In the situation you describe, I don’t see any particular reason to ask the gym management to intervene. It doesn’t appear to be a safety hazard, and sometimes, like it or not, I tend to give old people a pass when it comes to breaking minor rules. That might sound paternalist, but that’s just me.

    However, I also think we do need to consider the other people affected by the rule. If someone wants to do something, and the only reason they don’t is because of the rule, then it is not right that someone else can do it and get away with it. Saul mentions that gym management intervenes in other cases, but not with this gentleman. And so–while I probably want to give older people a pass–I don’t think it’s quite right that he gets away with breaking this rule, when others can’t. Still, I would need to know more. If the others really want to wear orthopedic shoes, that’s a different story than wanting to wear something else, at least I guess it is.

    Finally, when it comes to following rules, even apparently stupid rules, I do try to give deference to the rules enforcers and not make their lives more difficult by pushing the boundaries of what I can get away with. I’m sure there are many examples of where I honor this in the breach, but that’s my general outlook.Report

  12. Brandon Berg says:

    I’m curious as to why he even bothers going to the gym. Why not just walk around outside for twenty minutes?Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      Weather? The ability to watch TV? Even walking on paved sidewalks can still present dangers (e.g., tripping on an uneven patch, crossing streets) that are not present on a treadmill. And some people just prefer treadmill work. I hate the treadmill but I know those who love it… even just for walking.Report