Thursday, May 21, 2009

Impolite pool


Missing the golden rule
Deerfield Beach, FL, December 2008

Long before individual strands of hair on my head began going grey, in that dusty period of my life before I had kids - or, gasp, met my wife - I was a lifeguard. It was a pretty cherished part-time and summer job through my teens, as it kept me away from the grease fryer at the local fast food joint and gave me an excuse to learn the basic skills of life that have helped me ever since.

It's also where I met my wife, so it's always with a sense of gratitude that I walk onto a pool deck, smell the chlorine and return, if only for a moment, to a slice of my life where some very important roots were being laid down.

Of course, I'm a picky SOB. So while I'm perusing the facility, I inevitably critique the place. I assess the condition of the deck, the safety equipment and the water quality. I hover over my kids as they swim, never quite willing to leave it to the now-much-younger generation of guards who occupy the chair. I read the rules, too. And nothing is ever quite good enough.

To wit, whoever wrote the rules for this particular pool either had a terrible childhood or was surrounded by a cadre of nattering lawyers intent on dotting every last i. Or both. Either way, negatively-themed lists like these on public-facing signs always prompt a stab of sadness in me. I wish we had the gumption to set aside the ridiculous legalities more often so we could simply revel in the simple pleasures of life. I wish I had the gumption to paint over this sign and start from scratch with something a little more human.

But given this was the pool near my in-laws' place, I thought that might not be such a bright idea.

Your turn: Please share one rule for the pool. Or for life. Or both.

For more background on this week's Thematic Photographic theme, signs, please click here.

15 comments:

g said...

I once came into a job and had to edit the draft of a training manual for low-level temp employees working a retail food operation.

It was SOOOOO negative! No this, and no that; X is forbidden, Y is not allowed. I went through it and on the first pass just changed some of the "No's" to non-negative sentences - "No smoking in the break room" to "please enjoy cigarettes and other tobacco in the outside area" - was amazing.

Pamela said...

So, do you have a photo of you at work... saving kids from the deep end?

Hilary said...

"OOL RULES"

(or don't P in the ool) ;)

janie said...

You've reminded me of when my Dad would take us to the local public pool which had a very long list of NOs, but the one that intrigued me was NO Heavy petting! poor Dad,explain that to a six yr old. Somethings just don't need to be put in neon:)

Heather said...

This just made me think of all the silly pool signs, such as "We don't swim in your toilet, please don't pee in our pool" .... which reminds of a cross stitch my late aunt had in her bathroom - "If you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat" ... :)

Ron, RZ Photo said...

You're right. Our lives are sooo full of negatives, when things could be written in a more positive way. In our hearts, though, we know that those rules are there to keep our kids safe.

Ron, RZ Photo said...

You're right. These signs could be written in a much more positive way, but we all know that they are there to keep our kids safe! It's just a matter of perspective!

Mojo said...

You met Debbie working as a lifeguard? Now that sounds like an interesting story. (Pardon me if you've already told it.) I can picture it... pretty girl gets in (literally) over her head. Alert lifeguard pulls her out, and a little mouth to mouth later, she sputters to life and the rest is history. Or maybe young lifeguard forgets the first rule is "You gotta save yourself first" and panicked drowning swimmer pulls him out, with the requisite mouth to mouth ensuing. Or...

The possibilities are endless I suppose.

One rule for life. Or the pool. Or whatever.

"Leave it better than you found it."

Simple, non?

If only it were...

sealaura said...

Hola Carmi,

I have a second installment of signs that I think you might get a kick our of.

I love how you met your wife at the pool. My rule for the pool or life...hmmm

"jump in"
I tend to be cautiously reckless at times. I overthink silly things and lose out on some fun experiences. I consider myself an adventurous person but I do have to remind myself not be afraid and to just jump in.

hope you have a great weekend. :)

NJ said...

I have to laugh when you say it kept you away from the deep fryer. Both my children worked at the local McDonald's during high school. My son didn't mind it to much but when my daughter returned from her first year at college I asked her if she wanted to go work at McDonald's that summer. The Response "I'd rather cut off my index finger!"

Klaatu said...

those who date in the shallow end of the gene pool tend to go off the deep end.

Catherine said...

One bit of pool bureaucracy that astonished me was when I heard of a couple in the UK who weren't allowed to take their three children to the local pool, because children under a certain age (I forget what it was) had to be supervised one on one by an adult.
My five would never have learned to swim if I hadn't been trusted to be able to supervise more than one at a time.

Jennie said...

Hi Carmi. My personal rule is: No one look at me getting in or out of the pool. Is that so hard??? :) Nice post.

Michael Manning said...

There was always the neighborhood kid who confessed that he just peed in the pool. This was always met with a mass panic from everyone to get out quickly! :)

kcinnova said...

As I hear loudly said by the lifeguards at our local pool, "WALK!!" It's not always obeyed, but it is much nicer than barking "No running!"

Sign of the times: my 16yo took a junior lifeguard class last August ($35) and a lifeguarding course in December ($175) --is fully certified, but cannot get hired. Too many people competing for the job this year.