Wednesday, April 09, 2014


“That sort of decision is way above my pay grade.”

Santa Cruz Park and Rec Man sits musing in his mini truck in front of the closed doors of Harvey West Pool. He’d been telling us about how the pool was only open now in the summer. How a private company had taken it over from Parks and Rec when 30 workers had been laid off in 2009. If it were up to him, he’d have the pool up and running all year around like it used to. But it wasn’t up to him. Hence the pay grade remark.
I nod. It’s all about the pay grade isn’t it? If you’ve the power, you’re paid the grade. And if you don’t? Well, you end up like Rec Man, musing in front of the closed pool doors, wistfully wishin' for days gone by when Harvey West Pool was a thriving year around pool.
I’d called first, of course, before Ian and I headed over to the park. The recording said the pool was open from 11-2:30, M-Thurs, but I was dubious. The recording was dated Summer 2013. I didn’t have a good feeling about it, but then I thought, well, it’s Santa Cruz. Maybe no one changed the recording from a year ago.

And when we’d pulled up to the park, a beautiful spring day full of green lawns, blossoming trees, and jr. high school kids on a field trip, I was excited. The pool! Harvey West! I couldn’t wait to dive in.
The front doors were locked. No one around. There was a sign saying to enter the pool from the back, so I tromped around the chain link fence, bothered a guy reading Clive Cussler. “Excuse me, do you know anything about the pool? Is it open now or not till the summer?”
He’d eyed me suspiciously. Clive was more important than my pool question, yet he tried to answer me nevertheless. Maybe so I’d leave him alone. Telling me that “I’m not sure, but I think it’s only open in the summer.”

Incredulously, I had exclaimed, “But I know I used to swim here year around!”
“You could try to ask over at the little kids’ pool,” he offered, lying to me. “There’s usually someone over there giving swim lessons. Maybe they can help you.”
I glanced across the fenced in pools. There was no one over there, but I dutifully left him to Clive and tromped over there to an exercise in Futility.
A sporty girl strode by. “Excuse me, do you know anything about the pool being open?” I asked her.
She grinned, “Nope.”
“Are you a swimmer?”
“A runner?” I ventured.
“Hey! Yeah! How’d you know?”
“You’ve that athletic way about you!”
“I like your red glasses,” she exclaimed as she trotted past me. I noticed she had red sunglasses on too. “I like yours too!”
But no info on the pool.

And so, back to Ian talking to Rec Man and the woes of low pay grade status. “Yeah, they got rid of the diving board. They have swim lessons in the summer, but it’s not the same as it used to be. I’d love it if it got back to that. I love working at the pool.”
He shook his head sadly for a bygone pool era.

I too hankered for times gone by. Those days where Owen Hill would meet me and Sue Marsh after our swim; we’d stroll down the grassy hill, joking and laughing. Go back to the duplex. Make some nachos and watch Star Trek as the Fruit Factory lumbered crashingly on.
Harvey West Pool wasn’t what it used to be. At least not now.

But you never know. The economy could bounce back. Pools could be given more funding. The Santa Cruz Parks and Rec would thrive and Rec Man could once again bask in Pool Employment Glory.

“I could just hop the fence!” I grin over at Rec Man, who glances at me nervously now.
“I’m not gonna go there,” he replies, pulling his hat over his eyes.
I laugh. “Just kidding.”
He nods, takes off, the little cart put put putting away down the hill.

“Wanna go check out Polar Bear Ice Cream while we’re here?” I ask Ian.
“Sure,” he grins.
If you can’t swim, there’s always ice cream. Mexican Chocolate. Or Peanut Butter Honey. Or Bear Paws.
Yes, a couple of Bear Paws would fill the void of a thwarted swim. At least for now.


Ruth Jameson said...

We have one of our Community pools closed most of the time...for a while it was closed year around...

Money and Public Pools an on going political battle...

Cj said...

Yes, Ruthie. The Big Bucks stop at the pool. But then there are some public pool treasures, like the Richmond Plunge, which is where Ian and I ended up this day.

That's the next blog if I get a chance.

Thanks for reading!

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