The simple joy of a long, hot shower in a completely empty change room after a freezing August morning spent teaching lessons at the outdoor pool is one of my favourite memories from lifeguarding during the summers in high school and university. We didn’t even know the luxury of having staff only showers, so the privacy and the silence were golden. So was devouring fresh cinnamon buns from Soups (way more often than we should have), reading People Magazine and Us Weekly on breaks, and writing our names on the big beams in the rafters of the guard room at the end of each season.
On the other hand, there are also a few memories that I wish I could erase, like having to remove dead mice from the skimmers in the mornings (I would hope & pray so hard that I wouldn’t find any of the little drowned buggers, but there they’d be), the painful sunburns, and the terrible job of cleaning bathrooms after a swim meet.
Most of all though, I remember the people.
I remember the three siblings whose Mom was too busy drinking and doing drugs to feed them, and who would come to afternoon public every single day just because the pool was a safe place to be.
I remember the little Sea Otter who swallowed way too much pool water and threw up all over me.
I remember the mom who would sit on the bleaches and scream at her kids to, “listen to the teacher” as I was trying to teach them.
I remember the morning lane swim crew, and their unique styles: the lady in the far lane bobbing up and down like a loon, another in a pink swim cap who only swam the breast stroke, and the one who slapped the water with his left hand, but not the right, while doing front crawl.
& I remember the ancient little man, who proudly told me he was going to go swimming with his granddaughter and her two small children, proclaiming that he was going to dive right in, to which I replied, “I really wish you wouldn’t. This is the shallow end,” only for him to dive in anyway.