Assignment: write a 3 page essay about a meaningful place, big or small: a country, city, neighborhood, room, swingset, etc. Allow the details to convey your feelings and perceptions about this specific place.
Four years ago in the early spring, my parents and I decided that it was time I get a job on my summer vacation. At first I was doubtful of what I could do. My mother reminded me that I proved to be a good swimmer from my years in both middle school as well as high school and had a lot of fun interacting with my friends throughout my school years. Therefore, she encouraged me to get a job at a pool as a lifeguard. The more we spoke about it, the more I agreed to it. So off we went to the City of Manchester parks and recreation office to lean more.
In my head I was excited to see myself as a lifeguard. I thought I would be sitting around a sparkling pool, sucking in the sun rays all day yelling out at the kids to behave themselves. Thinking this was an easy job, I took the three day long class the get certified.
In the class, I learned about basic pool safety and how to work with children to make sure they knew how to use their flotation devices. I learned how to do basic resuscitation techniques, the rudiments of first aid and learned to provide important information to people on the best ways to avoid sunburns. What I didn’t know, I learned quickly lifeguarding and working hard at Livingston Pool!
My first day, and frequently thereafter, I was assigned to work at Livingston Pool. Livingston Pool is touted to be the busiest pool in Manchester New Hampshire, a summer blockbuster for sure, with the bragging rights of a capacity to fit 325 patrons. However, since there was not enough room for all to come in at once, I had to deal with a number of irate people at the entrance gate who got frustrated while waiting for those that had their fun to leave. Once people left, those standing at the gate were let inside. I thought to be victimized by the insults I received by the patrons on those hot busy days.
As I looked around my work area I could see what the City Of Manchester had provided for it citizens, I could see why it was a major attraction. A waterslide that has two big turns. I noticed that kids love to go down it over and over again. There is also a kiddie land area that the young ones could walk into up to three feet, a mushroom with water running over the edge in the middle of kiddie land. As they walk in, they could enjoy six mini fountains coming up from the bottom of the pool, as if that was not enough; two waterfalls featured on the side. On the other side of the pool, there is a six-lane lap pool that goes from four feet to twelve feet. The twelve feet section attracts a lot of people because they all want to see if they can touch the bottom.
After my first year, I applied to lifeguard at Manchester Parks and Recreation again. I would pray that I would not be assigned this particular pool again. My prayers were never answered. I’ve been a lifeguard at this pool for four summers now. This past year, I proved myself worthy of being a good lifeguard and was promoted to head guard with another guard named Andrew.
Being a co-head guard was hard to get used to at first. It was the first time we ever had two head guards at a pool. Nancy, our boss, thought it would be good for us to be together since we complement each other. I have a type-A personality, so I made sure we did everything we were supposed to do like paperwork and in-service training. Andrew worked more effectively dealing with rowdy people and getting the other less experienced lifeguards to pay attention to me when I gave talks on the safety policies of the pool. During stressful moments, we were on the same page most of the time and worked well together.
As Co-head guard, my day would start off by unlocking everything when I got to work. I would first encounter a tall black metal gate locked with a chain and padlock that almost looks like a prison gate. Unlocking the chemical room door was the hardest to unlock because it weighed the most. This was the hardest door to unlock because it weighed a lot. I had to prop it open with a rock and turn on the lights in my efforts to unlock the door to the chemical room. The chemical room was where the liquid chlorine was stored in a big white storage tank. Also present in the room was the flow rate of the pool’s filter system on the wall which I had to record the number every time I checked the chemicals. Also in the chemical room, I needed to turn on switches to the slide and the kiddie land features. In order to get to the switches I had to go down six steep stairs that were always wet. I always felt I needed to brace myself from a fall, so I made sure I held tight onto the railing.
The next place I visited was to unlock the bathroom. The women’s room was immediately to my right when I first walked in the gates. Inside the women’s room was the locker room that I saw had four showers that had a broken dirty white curtain for each stall. The floor was concrete with drains in the showers and one in the bathroom. There are four bathroom stalls as well.
Toilet paper was available by request of the pool checker by the gate in an effort by the pool’s manager not to waste this precious paper but somehow toilet paper would still be misused, stuck on the floor. It was myself and staff that would have to clean it up frequently at the end of each day. The men’s room is basically the same but their showers don’t have curtains and the bathroom has two toilets and two urinals.
People say Livingston Pool is the best pool to swim at in Manchester, New Hampshire, but little do they know what happens behind the scenes. Working with the public made me realize that people can be disgusting. I’ve had to clean feces so many times in the female bathrooms. One thing that totally discussed me was that someone kept on defecating in the urinal in the men’s room. It still amazes me how this person was able to do his business in the open, not only once, but multiple times. Luckily, for me, the male lifeguards had to do the cleaning on this one.
Sanitation was a frequent problem at the pool. Since I was head guard, I tested the chemicals every two hours. The chlorine levels are supposed to be at a five and most of the time it was around a two or three.
Day camps came on weekdays and they had about two-hundred kids in the water lowering the chlorine even more. Sometimes the chlorine would go as low as a 0.5, which can get the pool shut down if the Department of Health came and tested the water. The water in the pool began to equate to a giant toilet. The pool self-regulated the chemicals so eventually the chlorine levels would be adequate. In the meantime, while waiting for the pool to self- regulate with the public still swimming, we were left with not a pretty smell.
My boss Nancy would not let me add more chlorine unless someone defecated or vomited in the pool. One day, I was guarding kiddie land when some girl up chucked right in front of me, half in the pool and half on the deck. I then followed protocol on what to do when someone vomits or defecates in the pool. “Out of the pool now!” I would yell at the top of my lungs. I then proceeded to test the chemicals around the area where the incident happened.” Umm”, I thought to myself, “it looks like this girl had shepherd's pie for lunch.” I got the net out and went in the water to get pieces of corn I saw off the bottom that we couldn’t reach before. Nancy had us add chlorine depending on the chlorine levels. If it was a 5, we wouldn’t add more chemicals and just wait thirty minutes. If it was low around a 2 or 1, we would add one scoop and wait thirty minutes. In my opinion, this is not adequate for cleaning such a large public pool. If I were in charge, I would have shocked the pool for twenty-four hours before people could swim in it again. Unlike protocol, I would tell the people why we are closing the pool. I would say it’s for sanitary reasons. This should be enough for sane people to want to go home. That being said, in reality, on a hot summer’s day, people always complained and wanted to go back swimming right away and could care less how filthy the water really was. The same thing goes for feces. Many times people might come up to us saying ”There’s shit in the pool!” But as good luck might have it, it would be a false alarm of just a rock or leaf. There are also dark stains on the bottom of the pool that look like feces from a distance. These dark stains are probably from previous feces cleaning endeavors. When it’s stuck on the bottom of the pool, we are forced to go in the dirty water and scrub the bottom with a hard bristle brush. Usually when we do this, the poop disintegrates into the water as a cloud of brown particles. One time, a kid said he found feces in the pool but we didn’t believe him. Turned out, he was telling the truth and he picked up the feces with his goggles and handed it to the lifeguard. We felt horrible and whistled everyone out and then checked the chlorine levels. It was high so we just had people wait thirty minutes. The poor kid thought we would give him new goggles but we didn’t have any. I tried to clean them the best I could with bleach but I still felt bad.
To this day, I associate this pool with being one of the grossest pools in the city. I will only swim in it when the chlorine levels are high.
Every day was a struggle working there. We weren’t allowed to sit down while guarding and had to stand by the poolside for seven hours a day. The sun would beat down on us and the reflection of the sun off the water blinded our eyes. Along with standing all day, we had to deal with screaming children and many rude patrons who did not want to follow the rules. I would be exhausted by the time I got home.
All I can tell you is that after dealing with all of these incidents at the pool; I’m finally putting my flip flops away and not lifeguarding anymore.