Having a Problem


“It’s a good thing the pool is only 4 feet deep….. But come to think of it….. if you’re having a problem, you’re having a problem.”
Pudgy Peach Shaped woman clucks her tongue as she dries off her pudding limbs, pasty white and dimpled in the locker room glow.

We’d both just witnessed a distress situation with the lifeguard here at Hilltopia. One minute, she’s sitting in her big white chair, spaced out and staring. The next minute, there’s a call over the intercom “Attention. Attention! Blah blah blah and blah blah blah to the Pool Deck. To the Pool deck!”
I had heard the intercom’s blare, registering the Pool Deck location but nothing more. I was busy swimming my laps and had my earplugs, mask and cap on, deep into the rhythm of my workout when the call rang out.

But I wasn’t so engaged that I didn’t witness the three staff members appear on the deck, crowd around the lifeguard and then escort her into the little lifeguard staff room at the back of the pool area, closing the door solidly behind them all.

What had happened to her? Was she okay? She had seemed fine before when I’d asked her to please close the door—“It’s so cold” I’d complained. “Sure, no problem,” she’d answered, and then closed the door, blocking the cold January wind from whooshing over the surface of the pool.

This lifeguard was one of the ‘nice’ ones who would close the door for me. Some of them I wouldn’t broach the request anymore; they gave me such a hard time. But I digress.

Today, NiceGuard had seemed fine. And now, evidently, she wasn’t. Had my asking her to close the door had something to do with her collapse? But how could that be? I mean, is it always about me? Was I responsible for her distress?

I felt worried for her and stopped at the edge of the pool to ask her replacement about what had happened.
“Is she okay?”

He nodded, adjusting his knee pads. I guess he’d been playing soccer or some other sport that required such guards and had been called into to fill NiceGuard’s place while she was indisposed.
“Yeah, yeah, she’s fine,” he answered me as he climbed up onto the white chair, settling in with the large red rubber lifesaver on his lap.
Okay? I thought. Well, what could I do? If he said she was okay, then I guess she was, but if this were really the case, why was he here filling in for her?

I continued my swim, feeling sorta worried about her as she had disappeared into the little room with one of the staff members, Asian in Charge Woman. After about 20 minutes, Asian in Charge woman emerged and exited the pool area. But still no sign of NiceGaurd.

What was she doing in the little room? Was she passed out on a cot in there? Or worse, on the floor? What else could it be but some sort of health issue? Yet Sub Knee Pad Guard had said she was okay.

It was all very mysterious.

I glanced over at Ian who was still swimming—had he noticed anything? Hard to tell as we were both in the thick of our workouts. And Pudgy Peach Woman was just floating at the edge of the pool in the center lane, seemingly oblivious. It was only afterwards, in the showers, that she’d made the comment about having a problem.

Ian got out and left. Pudgy Peach Woman starting a slow float down the lane. I had a few more laps to go when NiceGuard emerged from the little room. She’d been in there about 45 minutes. Resting?
She took back up her position from Knee Pad Guard who exited the deck. I finished my last few laps and then started a few minor stretches before getting out.

But I was too curious. I had to ask.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes….yes….” She had moved off her chair now and was leaning out the door of the lifeguard room, half in half out. What was up? Was there someone in there that she was keeping watch over? Or was there some sort of fan or something that was blowing on her to keep her from passing out?
“Was there a problem because I asked you to close the door?”
“No…no….I’m okay,” she assured me.

Still, she didn’t offer any explanation. So I had no choice but to leave without my curiosity satisfied. Pudgy Peach Woman was curious too; hence the exchange about having a problem.
And it’s true. Even if the pool is 4 feet deep, if you’re having a problem, you want the lifeguard to be alert and aware. Ready to rescue.
And if she were having a problem, well, this could be a problem, right?

Later, on the ride home, I asked Ian if he’d noticed the NiceGuard situation and what he thought. He hadn’t noticed. So I explained briefly and asked him what he thought had happened to her.
“Maybe she had to report an incident about a crime or some other incident that was confidential.”
“But then why did the others have to be called down in the middle of her shift? There weren’t any other swimmers, just us and Pudgy Peach Woman,” I argued.

“Maybe it was something to do with a situation of abuse or….” Ian was a dog with a bone. The more he speculated, the more ludicrous the ideas. I had to laugh as none of his suggestions made any sense in the context of what I’d witnessed. But I joined in.
“Maybe she’s pregnant with her sister’s husband’s secret love child, had a bout of morning sickness, and had to go into the little room and lie down to recover.”
Ian laughs. “Yeah, that’s probably it. She’s pregnant.”
“I watch a lot of soap operas,” I joke.
But frankly, it wasn’t really a joking matter. Whatever the situation had been with her had been serious enough to take her off duty for almost an hour. How was it that she was fine enough again to watch the pool?
As Pudgy Peach Woman had said, “If you’re having a problem, it doesn’t matter how deep the pool is.”
And I have to agree. You don’t even have to be in the pool to have a problem.
We all know that one, right? Even if we’re not pregnant with our sister’s husband’s secret love child.
Though that certainly would add to it……wouldn’t it?

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