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    The Pool-cebo Effect

    | Livingston, NJ, USA | Top

    (I am a lifeguard at a pool. I am covering a coworker’s 12-4pm shift while he is visiting a friend in Boston. There is a senior aqua-exercise class for people with arthritis that is starting.)

    Swimmer #1: “Brrr, The water is so cold! Why is the water always so cold?”

    Swimmer #2: “Yes, this is ridiculous. We are going to freeze to death!” *to me* “You, there! Lifeguard! What is the water temperature today?”

    Me: “It is 84 degrees. Quite warm, actually. I went for a swim earlier.”

    Swimmer #1: “Bulls***! Where is the normal lifeguard, [coworker's name]? He always fixes the water temperature for us.”

    Me: “Really? How?”

    Swimmer #2: “He calls the front desk and has maintenance turn up the temperature. He’s such a nice boy. Such a lovely boy!”

    Me: “Okay, let me try that…

    (I walk over to the phone, but instead of calling the front desk, I just call my coworker’s cellphone.)

    Coworker: “Hello?”

    Me: “Yeah, hey, I’m doing your shift. There’s this arthritis class in here complaining about the water temperature. They say that you know how to fix it for them. What exactly do you do?”

    Coworker: “Oh, haha! I always tell them I’m going to call the front desk and have the temperature cranked up. Then, I walk into the office, pick up the phone and just mouth words to the dial tone for a few seconds. Then I go back and tell them that they’re working on it.”

    Me: “Okay, man, awesome.”

    (I hang up and walk back to the class.)

    Me: *to the swimmers* “Uh, yeah…they said they’ll get on it right away.”

    Swimmer #1: “I feel better already!”