In my thirties, I got a bit chunky. Not an unreasonable level of chunky, I’d just accumulated enough body fat for a passer-by to think “that man could not jog for more than ten minutes without needing a coronary.”  I’ve heard this referred to, in my line of work, as “programmer gut” and hearing that phrase alone was enough to make me bolt to the nearest gym and sign up.  To the credit of Plant Fitness, I dropped the first ten pounds at their facility and it was dirt cheap. Then Coronavirus hit and going to the gym became about as dangerous as finding a bear in the woods and poking it in the eyes while punting one of her cubs across the forest floor. 

I signed up for the gym membership online in a web browser. Their databases were downright pleased, eager, even, to insert a new paying member into the table. When it came time to cancel, suddenly membership erasure became as difficult as splitting the atom. Can I cancel over email? No. Can I cancel over the phone? No, that was “not possible.” I was then informed I had to “come in and talk to the manager” in person (during a pandemic) or I had to send a letter to a gym.

To the Manager of the [redacted] Planet Fitness Gym,

Greetings! My name is Adam [redacted] , and the purpose of this letter is to inform you of my intent to cancel my membership to your institution. My agreement number is [redacted].

Yes, I thought this day would never come. Truly, parting is such sweet sorrow! Rest assured, I did not tread upon this momentous decision with glibness. Physical fitness is of the upmost importance to me, and as the sole owner and proprietor of CHASE THE CHICKEN LLC, it is vitally important that I retain the speed and agility needed to corral the seventy-five chickens in my backyard every morning prior to my client’s chicken-chasing sessions. I started out in the chicken game as a young lad – and let me tell you candidly; some days I chase the chickens, but on many days, they end up chasing me.

But I’ve decided to cancel my membership – through no malpractice or negligence on your part – but because of a recent real estate transaction that has enabled me to build a proper home gym, complete with the latest chicken-chasing simulators. I’m afraid your firm has yet to acquire such advanced technology, and as such, I must divest from further financial engagement with you. Again, I shall cherish the purple-and-yellow-hued memories for an eternity.

I am, of course, a modern gentleman of the twenty-first century. I thought, foolishly, that this cancellation request could be handled through your firm’s sophisticated web site. After all, through this magnificent web portal I am able to transfer my membership, add additional benefits to said membership, or register for classes with one of your esteemed personal fitness trainers. A site most capable indeed! But I completely understand why this website would be entirely unable to cancel a membership. Some things are simply too complex for modern computation to handle, and ending gym memberships with the same ease that you created them is beyond the abilities of even the finest computer scientists.

Not to worry, I told myself, because a single phone call to one of your helpful and well-trained staff should make quick work of this problem. Alas, to my dismay, I was informed that cancellations ‘cannot be done over the phone.’ Blast! This intractable technical limitation rears its ugly head once more! I was then informed that an in-person visit, or letter delivered by mail, was the only possible method I could use to cancel this membership.

An in-person visit was simply out of the question on account of the dreadful global pandemic. A close friend of mine at the CDC has confirmed that interacting with other’s “mucus or sweat droplets” can spread the Coronavirus, and as I often interact with not just human sweat and mucus, but chicken sweat and chicken mucus, I would be endangering any other human or chicken I interacted with that is not already a client of CHASE THE CHICKEN LLC. This has left me with but one recourse for cancellation, and it is this very letter!

I trust your technical staff is working around the clock to correct the technical shortcomings that prevent your firm from offering digital cancellations and that this rigid cancellation policy you have codified in the membership agreement I have signed is not an intentional measure used to prevent people from canceling in the first place. What a lurid suggestion! I nearly fainted from shock just typing it.

I’ve had my legal counsel review your membership contract for any improprieties, but I’ll be candid once more; my attorney specializes in chicken-chasing law, and he has been principally preoccupied with some of the litigation CHASE THE CHICKEN LLC has been mired in for the last several months. I’m not pointing fingers – or chicken toes – at any single chicken in particular (especially since many of my chickens are currently looking over my shoulder as I type this and I believe several of them may in fact be literate) but several aggressive chickens have formed a sort of crime syndicate in which they attack members of CHASE THE CHICKEN LLC in a coordinated fashion in order to fish small coins or paper bills out of their wallets so they can waddle down to the nearest gas station for various snacks.

Rest assured, we at CHASE THE CHICKEN LLC are doing everything we can to discipline our misbehaving chickens. As a result, I too am in the process of reviewing my membership cancellation policy as the very last thing I would want is for any of my cherished Chicken-Chasers to feel like they are not able to cancel the thing they have consistently paid for as agreed without undue hassle. My existing policy is as follows; if you are unable to chase chickens any longer, you simply shout GALLUM! (the Latin word for “chicken”) while ringing the “surrender” bell located at both ends of the Chicken Steeplechase arena. If you wish to never chase chickens again, simply repeat the process twice (internally we refer to this as “the double cluck.” )

Many of my clients found this challenging – particularly when they are being attacked by the aforementioned chicken crime syndicate and are lying in a defensive fetal position – and the feedback I got from them was that they’d like the bell to be located nearer to the ground so it could be easily reached when they are under duress. There are some real up-front costs to such a proposition, such as new screws for the bells and as well as a total redesign of the Chicken Steeplechase arena but I feel my valued clients are truly worth the arduous journey required to meet their needs.

Yours in chickendom,