Monday, June 27, 2005

Doin' Time Under the Lifeguard Stand

My son loves to swim. At three years old, he is comfortable with going under water and has very little fears of the pool.

Last week, I was off on Friday and decided that our morning adventure would be going to the pool. Anyone with kids knows that some outing in the morning is crucial to a kid’s routine. Corey is no exception. As a day-care kid, he’s used to being able to run around somewhere by 10 am. Who was I to break that routine, so he and I packed up our boats and all toys that squirt, and headed to the pool.

Our pool is connected to an apartment complex which offers both positives and negatives. The membership duplicates the diversity we see in our neighborhood, however parking sucks because we must walk a block since we are required to park on the streets.

Corey & I arrived to find we were the first swimmers of the morning. The sign-in table was at the door and there were towels on it, so I assumed the guard was tending to some business. We walked in and headed to the baby pool. Corey took all of three seconds before jumping in to pummel the defenseless boats with squirting seals and lobsters. The motor craft had no choice but to succumb to the energies of a giant armed with spewing circus animals.

As we played in the pool, countless people strolled pass. The rental office manager walked prospective tenants through the complex; maintenance folks handled their routine assignments and the landscapers promptly came in and tended to the leaves and plants. The weird thing was that after 30 minutes, the lifeguard still hadn’t returned.

After an hour, the fleet of boats had sunk & risen multiple times. Fearing the limited capacity of a swim-diaper, I decided it was time for the little prune boy to head home. As we began toweling off, a young female lifeguard walked through the gate. Eventually she came over to us.

“Why are you here?” she asked.
“Ummm. We’re swimming.”
“But the pool’s not open.” the guard said.

I apologized saying the gate had been open and it looked as though the guard had just stepped away.

Not letting the issue die, she says, “This water is unsafe. It hasn’t been cleaned.”
“Since yesterday? Or like February?” I inquired.

As I began the slow process of getting Corey ready to go back home, she stood over me with her hands on her hips, grunted loudly and then proceeded back to the guard shack to… well do whatever guards do.

Five minutes later, I’m dragging two towels, a bag full of toys and one tired little boy towards the exit. Bisty, (that’s not her real name but it sounds like a bitchy girl’s name), comes up again and lays into me about being at the pool without a guard.

Angrily, she says, “You shouldn’t have been in the water.”
“I appreciate the warning about the pool not be cleaned, but he’s three and plays in toilets so it’s not like this was the dirtiest water he’s ever been in,” I added.

Bitsy crossed her arms in disgust.
“I can’t believe you’d go swimming without a guard,” she says.
“I’d hardly call the reenactment of Pearl Harbor in a baby pool, swimming! We played boats, not practiced scuba.” I replied.

(I have a tendency to become snitty when provoked. I realize that shocks no one. )

“Yes, but it’s dangerous to be here without supervision.”
My patience snapped. “Listen Missy. (Missy! Do you love that term?) First, don’t talk to me like I’m 13. I was in college before you could pee on a toilet. (My comebacks are too parental, I know.) My supervision of him was fine. The real concern is that your silly gate was open and any little kid could have come in and drown.”

(I hate using the word “silly”. “Fucking” would have been better, but we’re in the mimic stage now and I’m forced to use words that completely undermine my forcefulness.)

“Well, we keep the gate open so that the landscapers can get in and out to work on the plants,” Bitsy said.

“WHAT! Are you kidding me? That’s your pathetic explanation for violating the cardinal rule of pool maintenance.” (I secretly hope there is book with this rule, but I don’t pause for fear she’ll see through me on this one.) “That would be like me leaving my BBQ going all day while I’m at work and then yelling at you about potentially getting a splinter in my deck.”

the guard said.

My best analogies are wasted on ignorant people.

I grabbed the boats, the kid and the towels and fumed all the way to the car. “What a bitch!” I whispered to myself.

“a bitch,” my echo replied. I looked down a little wet boy who was now very pleased he’d discovered another new word.

I said.



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