There… Are… No… Lights!

, , , | Right | April 2, 2019

(It’s rare but we do get power outages at pools. I work at an indoor pool with no windows, so it is pitch black when that happens. Our policy is to clear the pool immediately until we get word that we can let people back in. Most people get out quickly and follow our flashlights. On this one occasion, a coworker is shining his flashlight so people can see where to go and approaches a patron in the lanes. Since she is elderly, he assumes she might want to go back to the changing room.)

Coworker: “Miss, I can walk with you to the changing rooms if you—“

Patron: “I have just a few more minutes.”

Coworker: “Pardon?”

Patron: “I have to finish my workout, just give me a few more minutes.”

Coworker: “Excuse me, miss, but the lights are all out and we don’t know when the emergency lights will come on. We have to evacuate the pool now. It’s unsafe for you to work out where we can’t see you.”

Patron: “Well, you’re standing here now. You shine the flashlight and I’ll keep going.”

Coworker: “No! Lady, get out! I have to double check other areas to see if everyone is okay.”

Patron: “Then leave me here.”

Coworker: “Look. Get out now or I will have to let the boss know that you refused to adhere to a safety protocol and you could get banned.”

Patron: “But I need my workout.”


(Just then, one of the emergency lights turns on right above her, as luck would have it.)

Patron: “Now there is a light, so I can stay.”

Coworker: “Okay, for the last time, we’ve cleared the pool, and you have ten seconds to get out before I have you banned for life. One… Two… Three…”

(And that is the story on how my eighteen-year-old coworker had to use the 1-2-3 countdown on a grown-a** woman. She didn’t get banned, but she got a severe talking-to by the higher-ups. However, she did get kicked out for a while when she kept trying to work out in the changing rooms well after close.)

Give Them 75 Meters And They’ll Demand A Mile

, , | Right | March 29, 2019

(I work at a pool where people can directly call the lifeguard office if they have questions. We only answer it if we’re off rotation and we don’t use it that much, but sometimes we do get some interesting calls.)

Me: “Hello, thank you for calling [Facility]. My name is [My Name]; how may I help you?”

Customer: “Yes, I am wondering how warm your pool is.”

Me: “Well, our health a safety policy is to keep the pool between 82 and 88 degrees.”

Customer: “So… how warm is it?”

Me: “Well, it could be any of those temperatures within that range. If you want, I can check and see what the results were the last pool test?”

Customer: “That would be great. Thank you.”

(I go and check; our pool is at 85 degrees. I come back and tell her.)

Customer: “Oh, that’s it? Is there ever a time that’s it warmer?”

Me: “Uh, what do you mean?”

Customer: “Like, do you turn up the temperature for a certain part of the day?”

(This is the moment where I know this will be a long call.)

Me: “Unfortunately, we can’t do that. We are a 75-metre pool and it takes days to increase or decrease the temperature. In fact, when we have competitive swim events, we have to cool the pool down at least three days before it starts.”

Customer: *gasps* “You make it colder?”

Me: “Well, if we don’t, people swimming fast will overheat.”

Customer: “What about the leisurely swimmers? Since you turn down the temperature for those events, couldn’t you turn it up for us swimming leisurely?”

Me: “Unfortunately, no. You see, when we have those competitive swim events, the entire pool is shut down to the public, which is why we can do it. There are still a lot of programs happen throughout the day here, that we can’t turn up the temperature.”

Customer: “Okay… so, that’s as warm as it will go?”

Me: “Yes, but we do have a hot tub and a smaller pool that run warmer. The hot tub is around 95 degrees or more and the smaller pool is 90 to 95.”

Customer: “Hmm… So, how warm is it?”

Me: “Uh, anywhere between those ranges.”

Customer: “Can you check and see what the temperature is today? Like you did for the pool.”

Me: *internally screaming* “Of course.”

(I go and check, relaying the info back to her.)

Customer: “Now, how deep is the smaller pool?”

Me: “At its deepest, it is about three feet.”

Customer: “Three feet? That’s pretty small for an exercise pool.”

Me: “Well, normally, that pool is used for little kids and parents.”

Customer: “Oh, I see… So, it’s not a workout pool for seniors?”

Me: “It is open to the public, so it can be used by anybody.”

Customer: “Hmm, okay. Well, I’m asking all these questions because at [Other Pool in Other Part of Town], it is a lot warmer.”

Me: “Is that the therapy pool attached to [Local Care Home]?”

Customer: “Yes, it’s only for adults and it’s perfect for leisurely swimmers. Do you have anything like that?”

(The pool she is mentioning is about ten feet in length and never gets deeper than five feet. We are a 75-metre pool with diving towers, rope swings, a water slide, and various programs for adults and youths. In other words…)

Me: “No, I’m very sorry, but we don’t have a pool like that here. We do have a lot of programs for seniors, though, if that’s what you’re looking for.”

Customer: “Thanks, but no thanks. You should see about making something like that in the future at your pool.”

(I recommend you just go to that other pool, lady.)

Drowning In Bad Parenting

, , , | Related | March 22, 2019

(I am a volunteer at a swimming club that completely runs on volunteers. We have our licenses, but we are not hired professionals who teach on a daily basis. As a result, we have fewer students than the pool’s own swimming school. We also teach more than the pool’s swimming school, from the actual “how to swim,” to water polo, snorkeling, survival, etc. In order to get children to participate in sports more, one large supermarket chain has Sports Weeks, where you can save stamps and when you have a full card, you can sign up for three free lessons at a sporting club of choice. This is one of the ways our club hopes to get more students, so we always participate, and usually, the kids end up in my group for their first lesson. I teach in the pool that is three metres deep; you need to have your basic swimming certificate to swim there, which is mentioned in the rules.  At Sports Weeks, I get a batch of children and adults, but when I’ve just started my lesson, a late-comer comes in with his mother. It’s a little boy, about five years old. I immediately sign one of the coordinators over, because of an uneasy feeling.)

Me: “Good afternoon, ma’am. Here for Sports Weeks?”

Mother: *speaks with an accent and minimal Dutch* “Yes, yes. My son is here for Sports Weeks.”

Me: “Well, the lesson already started, but he is welcome. Which certificate does he already have?”

Mother: “Yes, yes. He here for swimming lessons.”

Me: “Eh, but which certificate does he have? Does he have A? B? Or C?”

(Our basic national swimming certificates go from A, the first, to C, the last.)

Mother: “Yes, yes, swimming lessons.”

Me: “Ma’am… can he swim?!”

Mother: “Yes, yes… swimming lessons! My boy swim very good!”

(At this time the coordinator has reached me and overheard me.)

Me: “Ma’am, please talk to [Coordinator]; she will assist you.”

(I return to my lesson, which was already taken over by my father, who is also a volunteer and saw me talking to the mother. Since he’s my father and we have been teaching together for over a decade, we are quite in sync, so we just take over when we think the other needs help or needs an extra pair of eyes. Eventually, the mother and child leave, and after class, the coordinator talks to us.)

Coordinator: “You were absolutely right, [My Name]; that kid couldn’t swim at all!”

Me: “Maybe she misunderstood the rules of Sports Weeks?”

Coordinator: “No, she understood it. She just thought that she could use this to bypass the waiting list and have her child get free basic swimming lessons. She honestly thought three lessons was enough to teach her child how to swim! She didn’t understand why we wouldn’t allow her child to swim along, and she called us racists.”

Me: “She… What?!”

Coordinator: “Apparently, refusing a child who can’t swim and will drown the moment he jumps into the pool is racism. She said she will write the head of Sports Weeks and we will be banned from the list.”

(We did get the complaint sent through, but with the mention, “We laughed really hard about this,” and a new list of participants.)

Drowning In Bad Parenting

, , , , , | Right | March 15, 2019

(I work as a lifeguard at a small-town pool, so we don’t get many people we don’t know, but every once and a while we get out-of-towners. They are usually rude and disregard all of the rules. It is required to take a swimming test to enter the deep end at our pool; if you don’t pass you don’t enter. A lady and her two sons come to the pool.)

Lady: *to [Coworker #1] on duty* “Can [Oldest Son] take the deep end test?”

Coworker #1: “Yes, you have to [do required things] well, and I will pass you.”

Oldest Son: “Okay.”

(The oldest son then does the test and passes.)

Lady: “Now can [Younger Son] take the test?”

Coworker #1: “Yes; he has to do the same things.”

Lady: “That seems like a lot for someone so little to do.”

Coworker #1: “Everyone has to do it to enter the deep end, ma’am.”

Lady: “It just seems like too much! Have him do less.”

Coworker #1: “I can’t. He has to pass these requirements.”

Lady: “Okay.”

(The youngest does it but is obviously struggling, out of breath, and needing to take a break. His mom swims next to him, practically holding him. It takes him so long to finish that the lifeguards have to rotate, so [Coworker #1] leaves and [Coworker #2] takes her place/ [Coworker #1] tells her that the kid is struggling and shouldn’t be passed. The kid finally gets done.)

Coworker #2: “I’m sorry, but he didn’t pass. He is obviously a struggling swimmer and I can’t let him in the deep end.”

Lady: “What?! He did your stupid little test; he should be able to go in there. He is not a struggling swimmer!”

Coworker #2: “Ma’am, he did not pass because he isn’t a strong enough swimmer and we don’t want him to have a chance of drowning.”

Lady: “This is ridiculous. All he wants to do is go off the diving boards; just let him do that!”

Coworker #2: “Ma’am, we cannot let your son into the deep end, for his own safety.”

(She continued to yell at me and my coworkers until she finally decided to loudly announce that we were terrible lifeguards and she was never coming back to this pool ever again. My coworker and I didn’t care if this lady ever came back, but much to our despair, she came back an hour later and broke our deep end rules, and ignored us, all while insisting that she was with her son and it didn’t matter what some stupid teenagers said; she knew what was best for her son.)

Diving Head-First Into Entitlement

, , , , | Learning | February 23, 2019

(I’m teaching swimming classes, and one of my former students asks if she can interview me for school. She is ten years old, she has to write an essay for schools, and she has picked diving as a subject. I used to be a diver, and she wants to include an interview with “someone who was a diver.” I agree to meet with her for the interview after my classes have ended. I come out to meet the student and encounter her mother.)

Me: “All right, are you ready?”

Mother: “Oh, no, no, she went to the next group, so she has class now.”

Me: “Oh… Well, I can wait for her to finish.”

Mother: “There is no need to; I have the questions here, so we can work ahead.”

Me: “Eh… Sure… I guess… Wow, she has very neat handwriting!”

Mother: “Oh, she didn’t write the questions down; I did.”

(I feel a bit uneasy, because I promised to do the interview with the girl, and now her mother is doing the interview. But, if that helps the girl to get a good grade… there’s no harm in this, right?)

Mother: “Thank you so much for your time! I can’t wait to start working this out.”

Me: “Oh, [Girl] can’t wait to get started on this presentation?”

Mother: “No, no, she has better things to do.”

(That creeping feeling is back again.)

Me: “You really like helping her, don’t you?”

Mother: “Of course; that’s what mothers are for!”

Me: “But shouldn’t she be doing this herself, then?”

Mother: “Don’t worry; there’s plenty of time for her to do things on her own. You know how kids are. One day they just don’t want to listen to their mothers anymore and then they just fly out. Besides, I’m having way too much fun! When I was small, we didn’t have such things as Powerpoints… or even videos! And their homework sheets are just so much fun to do! I always wonder what she’ll come home with.”

(The mother laughs as I realize she is not only making this presentation for her daughter, she is also doing her homework! The girl is by no means a spoiled brat, but things suddenly click about passive behavior and always giving up if something doesn’t work out the first try. Then, the lesson ends.)

Girl: “Mom, did you do the interview?” *her mother nods* “Oh, and you packed the wrong shirt for this class; this shirt is too heavy to swim with. I told you that last time.”

Mother: “Oh, I am so sorry! I won’t pack that shirt again.”

Me: “You know, why don’t you pack your bags yourself? Then you can be sure you have the right stuff!”

(The girl just stares at me as if I’ve told her I teach dinosaurs how to swim. The mother laughs.)

Mother: “Oh, dear, she’s much too young for that! “

(I know my mother was strict with ordering me to pack my own bags at age four — checking it afterward — and teaching me about consequences if I forgot something, but this was the other side of the spectrum. This girl will have to go to high school in two years and then face the harsh reality where she has to do her own homework and her own reports and pack her own bag — things her mother has sheltered her from. If nothing changes, I’ve witnessed the birth of a special snowflake, caused by mother’s love.)

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