What Happened to the YMCA? | Integrity, What is It? | Review

I used to be a fan of the YMCA; I was a member for years. Do you remember the 1978 song  by the Village People? “YMCA . . . YMCA . . .”

When I joined the YMCA in Florida around the year 2003, they assured me that the aerobics room was available to members as long as there wasn’t a class, or any other activity, in session. All members were welcomed to practice their stuff there. I used it regularly to dance.

In 2006 I moved to San Diego from Texas, where I also used the aerobics room at the YMCA. I transferred my membership to the Mission Valley YMCA. There I also used the aerobics room until recently; until this lady (director?) came into the room, saw me dancing, and informed the employee in charge that I wasn’t allowed to use the room “unless there was an instructor present;” that was their policy, she said.

To be honest, this happened once before at the La Jolla location, also in San Diego. At that location the woman was so rude and unprofessional when asking me to leave, that I wrote a letter to the director complaining, and explaining that the woman in question could be in need of professional help; she seemed to be psychologically disturbed in her unwarranted threatening behavior. Nothing was done other than the director explaining that it was a policy that they had to reconsider, and (to make it more puzzling) it had nothing to do with their liability because when a member joins the YMCA he signs a form exonerating the organization if an accident happens.

I also spoke to a member of the board of directors about the matter to no avail. But I did not worry about it because I stopped using that location due to losing a job I had in the area. But when the problem resurfaced again at the Mission Valley location, I decided to cancel my membership and go elsewhere. And that’s when I noticed a complete lack of integrity.

Integrity means honesty. But it has a particular connotation. It also refers to parts integrating with each other, as in unity or wholeness. In other words, you don’t say something today and then deny that you said it a couple of days later. That is a lack of integrity. I am explaining this here so that if the YMCA comes in contact with this post they can learn what integrity is. After all, honesty is one of the things that they are supposed to teach their young members.

Anyway, when I went to the office last month to cancel my membership, they offered me a less expensive plan assuming that money was the cause. But I explained that the reason for the cancellation was not money but the fact that I wasn’t allowed to use the aerobics room. They proceeded then to cancel my membership, and I left.

But it occurred to me after I left that it took a month for them to cancel a membership. For they were collecting directly from the bank, and needed to do the paperwork and submit the cancellation. So maybe I could reduce my last month payment by downgrading my membership for that month. I called them, talked to the same person, and he said that there was no problem. I stressed that the cancellation should still be active at the end of the agreed time. They said there was no problem, the process wouldn’t interfere with my retraction, but I had to return and fill another form. I did. And again I stressed that the cancellation was still to be applied on the due date. He agreed.

Are you guessing where this is going? Next month, when I checked my account they had withdrawn the regular fee. I went back to the office and talked to the same person again. He said he would check to see where the mistake was. He did. And with a straight face, he called his boss. They said that the last form I had filled had enrolled me on the lower rate program, but it wouldn’t be active until the following month.

I looked at them in disbelief. They both knew that I had canceled and why. They said again that what I had done was change my membership. I looked at both of them, told them that they weren’t being honest, and to please cancel my membership. There was nothing else to say really; the YMCA lacked integrity. I had to fill another cancellation form.

The names of any of the characters above are irrelevant; they represent the organization. And I ask you, how is the YMCA going to instill integrity in their members when they themselves don’t have any? How are they going to develop strong kids, strong families and strong communities? You know something else, I was a member at the Mission Valley location close to four years, and some staff members I never saw give a smile to anyone.

I should have canceled that membership a long time ago.

Mahatma Gandhi once said referring to Christians . . . “They are so unlike the Christ.” Isn’t that true?

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