Stop Being So Nice!

“POOOOOL CLOSED!!!!!” Puffy Pasty Lifeguard bellows and whistles.

I pause in my kicking, glancing up at the clock. It’s only 9:25; the pool has always closed at 9:30. What’s up? Special holiday cheer for all swimmers? You thought you’d get that last 200 yards in before the whistle, but no, time’s up. Get out and get out and hey, would you just get out of the pool already?

I glance around at the other few swimmers in the pool. There are only a few of us this 23rd of December. Everyone’s at the mall? Or out of town? Or they got the memo about the pool closing 5 minutes earlier this evening and decided to stay home and watch Happy Holidays from NBC?

“Don’t we get till 9:30?” I holler back now.

She shakes her head, blows on her whistle again at one lagging swimmer. “Nope. Pool closes at 9:25.”
“Since when?” I ask.
“Since about a week ago,” she answers, as the last straggler stops at the wall. Perplexity all over his mug too.

“They should put signs up or something so we know about the change,” I suggest now, taking my time getting out of the pool. Hell if I’m gonna get out before 9:30 since I had no notice of it.

“It’s on the schedule,” she asserts, picking up kickboards and clucking her tongue. (Okay, maybe she wasn’t clucking her tongue, but she had the clucking the tongue attitude, you know?)

“I don’t read the schedule,” I answer. “It’s so small….” Okay, I realize this is no excuse. I should read the schedule, but at the same time, if they make a change to it, they should let us swimmers know, right? 5 minutes might not seem like such a big deal, but…..

Later in Utopia I mention this 5 minute early closing travesty to Sandy, “Of course, it’s a Big Deal!” she harrumphs.
“Yeah, I was counting on that last 5 minutes for my 200 yard warm down.”
“Exactly!” she agrees. “I’d have a bit of selective hearing if it were me. Did you blow the whistle? Say the pool was closed? What? I didn’t hear you. And then I’d keep on swimming till 9:30.” (Damn. Why didn’t I think of that?)

“I wonder why they changed the time…” I muse. “Who do I ask?” Sandy knows all. She has the pulse on the intel at the Oakland Y.

“Ask upstairs. Though they will all be in Party Mode. Chattering away. Running down here and putting on their make-up. It’s 10 pm. Time to paaarrrteeee!”
DL and I crack up. It’s so true. They’re all about 17, running the place in the evenings. Though actually they’re probably in their 20’s. But everyone looks 17 when you’re in your 50’s.

So, I do. Ask the smart young man running the show on our way out. DL stands to the side, spacing out. She’s not a swimmer, so I don’t expect her to participate in the inquiry. Though a big part of me wishes Sandy were here.

“Excuse me?” I ask.
“Yes?” His tone is ‘helpful’ but in that I’m annoyed with this middle aged woman’s question before she even asks it edge to it.

“Do you know why the pool is closing at 9:25 instead of 9:30?”

He shakes his head—this woman is so stupid. “It’s always closed at 9:25.”
I start to simmer….if it always closed at 9:25 would I be here asking you?
“Well, no, I’ve been swimming here for years and it’s always closed at 9:30.”

He smiles oh so sweetly. So helpful. So condescending. What is it about young guys in charge? Do you know what I mean? They have all the answers and everyone else is just so simple, so wearying, such a waste of valuable time.

“No, it’s always been 9:25. Maybe you’ve had lifeguards that didn’t think it was a big deal and were being nice and so they let you swim till 9:30.”

“Really?” I shake my head. Why the hell would they do that? They make a huge production out of blowing that goddamn whistle at precisely 9:30 on the dot. It didn’t make any sense that they were just being ‘nice’ all these years. Those lifeguards wanna get the hell out of there. Understandably. But if they coulda gotten us out sooner all these years, wouldn’t they have?

“Check the schedule. It’s been 9:25 since I’ve been working here,” Smug Manager Boy continues.

I sigh. I’m not gonna argue anymore with him. What’s the point? Yet why isn’t he at least acknowledging my point that they should notify us of a change?

Cuz in his point of view, there was no change. The lifeguards were just being nice. But if this were the case, why did the lifeguard tonight admit that there had been a change in the last week? Why, she’d even walkee talkeed up to the Smug Manager Boy (I’m assuming) when I’d asked from the pool.

Such a puzzle.

But more importantly, such a Smug Little Response from Manager Boy.

I ask for the pool manager’s name and number. He gives it to me. DL and I amble out.
“That was weird,” I say.
“Yeah,” she agrees.
“I wasn’t expecting him to stand there and argue with me.”
She nods, “Yes. All he had to say was, thank you for letting me know and I’ll check into it and get back to you.”


I get home. I get my glasses out. I check the schedule. Yup, it says 9:25. Guess, I shoulda read the schedule. But yet, it still seems so strange. There is some policy situation going on that I'm not privy too.

Yet, for now, it does seem that Smug Manager Boy was correct. Though I still wonder why the lifeguard said there was a change a week ago? Did the pool manager come down on all the lifeguards for being too nice?
Well, that needs to change! Because as everyone knows, there’s just way too much niceness going around. Gotta nip that in the bud when it blooms to excess.

I think I’ll still email the pool manager. Find out what has changed.

And next time I want to complain to one of the Partyers in Charge, I’ll be sure to bring Sandy with me. She’ll back me up, no matter if I’m right or not!


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