Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Sunday, May 23, 2010
But I did.
I find this extremely unfair. Literature, cinema and country music all teach us that at times, life just doesn't go the way you want it to. But nowhere in the entire annals of human history is the "please stop vomiting on yourself" scenario covered. I mean, I even know how to deal with getting rid of a Sasquatch who has endeared itself to my family (thanks, Harry and the Hendersons!) but nothing, not even college, prepares you for this.
Okay, let me retract slightly. There's a good chance that some of you may have had to say, "please stop vomiting on yourself" when you were in college. But it is highly doubtful that the vomiter in question was doing so intentionally. College is riddled with vomit. People throw up on themselves every night at universities across the nation. But regardless of how drunk they intended to get, none of these students set out specifically to vomit on themselves in public.
However, this was the case with Drunken Master.
I've mentioned Drunken Master before. He was the guy who'd stumble into the pool area obviously inebriated and couldn't come close to walking a straight line. Usually, he would get into the hot tub and moan as if he were either being tortured or sexually pleasured (it was hard to tell). He'd often lay in a chaise lounge swinging his head left and right somewhat violently, but I just figured that was a Korean thing. The Health Club had a large Korean community and I saw some odd behavior, but I figured it mostly to be cultural differences and so I let the head shaking go without much thought. But the day came when his behavior crossed all cultural lines and went straight to... well, I don't know where people find this acceptable.
One day, there he was in his chaise lounge, but instead of shaking his head, he was putting his fingers in his mouth. Odd, but again I just figured it was a culture thing. Still it was intriguing enough to warrant further observation.
Deeper into his mouth the fingers went. The further back into his throat he put them, the quicker my heart started to beat. There was a situation a-brewing and however it was going to turn out, I knew I didn't want to deal with it. It was going to be worse than that time I had to tell an old lady in the steam room that her boob had fallen out of her shirt, and that was bad enough.
I wanted to look away and pretend I didn't notice (it's an ancient and effective lifeguard trick for dealing with speedos that are too small to adequately cover genitalia) but the other patrons had begun to take notice of Drunken Master's antics and were shooting me glances of shock and horror. This was now officially my responsibility.
Things like this aren't covered in a lifeguard's job description but they should be.
"You will be required to maintain the safety of the patrons, as well as the cleanliness and sanitation of the pool and pool area. In addition, you will monitor the level of clothing on all patrons, keep them from drinking Holy Hot Tub Water, prohibit self-vomiting and indoor expulsions of phlegm onto the floor." But they leave that stuff out. [Warning: Graphic scene imminent!]
I stood up to get a better view of Drunken Master's unusual conduct and as soon as I did, out came the vomit. It wasn't a lot of vomit, but certainly enough vomit. He directed it right onto his stomach. I guess he felt it looked better on the outside than the inside because he then began smearing the clear-ish sticky fluid all over himself with his hands. Being quite stunned, no one really made a move, least of all me. A patron finally got up to leave the pool area and suggested on his way out that I see if Drunken Master was okay. I was on the hook now so I began to walk over to him when he went back into his mouth for round 2. More vomit, more smearing. I asked him if he was okay and he nodded. I suggested he take a trip up to the shower to clean himself off and he pretended not to understand English. As he put his hand to his mouth again I shouted, "NO! Sir, please stop vomiting on yourself. It's not sanitary and we don't allow it here." He got the picture and though he stayed in his lounge chair for a few more minutes to stew in his own juices, he eventually left and I contemplated setting fire to the health club to avoid having to clean up after him.
All Mr. Miyagi ever did was give karate lessons.
Friday, April 23, 2010
It was a rule at the pool that folks who were fresh out of the steam room had to rinse off in the shower before entering the pool or hot tub.
We policed this as best as we could, but it was difficult. Some people would exit the steam room a sweaty mess and quickly jump in the pool before we could even catch them. But one day, a member did my job for me. He spotted someone jump from the steam room to the pool without rinsing off and proceeded to reprimand that member for his infraction.
Here is an almost exact transcription of that altercation.
member # 1: "Hey buddy! You didn't shower off before you got in the pool!"
member # 2: "So?"
member # 1: "So? That's the rule, dammit! I have to get in the pool now with your sweat floating in it!"
member # 2: "That's why the pool is chlorinated! Ahh-mind your own business!"
member # 1: (now oddly enraged) "It is my business dammit! You think I wanna swim around in your sweat cuz' you can't follow the rules? When I woke up this morning I had diarrhea! But I respectfully washed my ass before I came to the pool!"
I guess what blew my mind so much is how member # 1 so freely admitted to member # 2 (and everyone else at the pool that day watching this argument) that he had diarrhea. Also, the fact that he was using diarrhea to prop up his defense was fascinating. The guy was in an unprovoked rage, and to prove what a noble, upstanding, rule-respecting patron he was, he was willing to admit that he had loose bowel movement, but hey-he washed his ass after that! (Well okay then! You win!)
Pardon me, but couldn't he have used a less disgusting, less insane example of how he cleaned himself as an example for member # 2? It seems to me he could have just as easily said "I was dirty after a tough workout but I respectfully took a shower before I came into the pool!" and gotten the same effect. But no, this guy went straight to the diarrhea example.
From that moment on, member # 1 was deemed 'The Respectful Ass Washer'.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Though the Health Club was technically a secular institution, there were many regulars who were fairly religious when it came to their routines. The Intense How Do You Do probably feared Hell in the face of not entering the pool area at blistering pace at 6:45 am sharp, staring and pointing at the lifeguard and shouting with utmost vigor, “How are YOU doing this morning?” at which point, he could not break eye contact until he received an obligatory response. Then and only then could he “relax” in the hot tub. Neither of the Bald Foot Dippers (there were two, and we'll get into both of them later) ever deviated from their course from the door to the 3.5 foot section of the pool to dip their toes in the water, only to ignore the temperature report from their respective tootsies and get into the hot tub instead. Hat Man, despite repeated warnings and reprimands, always and without fail would shave his face (with his hat on) in the hot tub.
There was something magical about that hot tub. It wasn't attractive (the bromine sanitizer it used oxidized the copper pipes, giving the water a puke green hue), often stunk of too many bodies sweating in it at once, and had paint chips and chunks of plaster missing from it in rather uncomfortable places for one's feet and derrier. Yet for whatever reason, the hot tub brought out the zealots at the Health Club.
Twice a week, we were required to drain and re-fill the hot tub in order to maintain basic sanitation. The hot tub-ites, however, prevented us from doing so, insisting that we drain it only once a week, preferably when they weren't there. We decided that since Sundays were our slowest days we'd drain it then. The only safe days to use the hot tub were Mondays and Tuesdays. On Wednesdays, the hot tub would start to get slightly more than questionably cloudy. Thursdays and Fridays, you couldn't see the bottom of it and the acrid, chemical and body fluid smell would begin to permeate the Health Club. On Saturdays, the thing looked like a bubbling cauldron of vomit with 5 morons pretending not to notice while sitting in its hideous belly.
On Sundays it was closed to be drained, cleaned and re-filled. Naturally, our Sunday hot tub fanatics were up in arms. They'd refuse to believe that their precious hot tub could possibly be closed. They'd see their deity half-empty, surrounded by orange cones and believe that it was a test of their enduring faith. They'd rush to its side, move the orange cones and climb in, the water barely covering their kneecaps.
“The Hot Tub is closed.”
This statement was always followed by a look of bewilderment.
“I don't see no sign saying it's closed!”
“The hot tub is green and half-empty. The murky water your feet are dangling in isn't even hot. There are orange cones all around it to alert you to its closure.”
“It don't say nowhere in the rules that I can't be in here.” The rules did say just that.
“It's closed. I work here and I'm telling you it's closed. Please exit the hot tub. It will be open tomorrow. Come back and enjoy it when it's clean.”
“Man, your mother never taught you manners. You need some home training, that's what you need.”
The above was a loose transcript of an actual conversation I had with an actual hot tub-ite. I distinctly remember him talking about my mother and the “home training” remark. I'd have a similar conversation once a week, though they usually did not insult Mom's ability to raise me.
The hot tub's supernatural powers attracted some wacky ones. When Drunken Master wasn't doing the Evan Williams two-step (question: who the hell comes to a Health Club plastered?) he'd be in the hot tub, loudly moaning. I could never tell if he really enjoyed it or if he was in pain. Either way, I was pretty sure he could have used some intravenous fluids.
One of the most memorable hot tub-ites was Jamaican Hot Lady Who Does the Jets. A crude name, yes, but befitting. She had a terrific, curvy figure and loved to show it off. She'd wear something skimpy and lay on a chaise lounge, adopting inappropriate position after inappropriate position. Spreading her legs, arching her back, she'd draw the attention of the male Health Club patrons. When they came by to chat her up, though, she never responded. She was only there for the hot tub, and apparently put on that ridiculous show just for him. She just kept on going with her routine until the call of her lover was to great to bear.
With the hot tub singing her favorite love song, she would come to him. She'd enter the water slowly, standing for a few minutes, basking in his warm embrace until eventually she would find one of the stronger jets and sit down. There she would silently and sensuously gyrate until the hot tub fulfilled her needs. She would then return to her chaise lounge and gratuitously run through her poses for him again.
I wonder if the hot tub ever took pictures?
Monday, April 19, 2010
When the outdoor pool was open, we had members who gravitated between the indoor and outdoor pools. What separated the two pools was a wall of paned glass with a glass doorway that was usually propped open during the hotter days.
Some people, apparently, thought they had magical powers as ghosts, because they liked to try to walk through the glass wall to get in or outside.
Never mind the fact that the propped open doorway was right there to use to walk in between pools, these people would rather walk through the wall. Sort of like when someone says "Ahh, I'll take the stairs instead of the elevator", we almost imagined that these people said "Ahh, I'll take the wall instead of the doorway."
I have to say, there's nothing quite like seeing someone walk smack dab into a wall to lift your spirits. But the real funniness of this was the frequency that this happened. One time, maybe I can see. You're not paying attention and mistake a glass wall for an opening. You laugh it off and would be on your way. But this happened often. It sucks for them, but is ferociously funny to anyone else watching. I used to feel embarrassed for them, but still have a laugh at their expense. Honestly, who wouldn't?
That probably sounds mean, but I always felt sorry for the person, asked them if they were okay, and got them through the proper doorway in one piece. My sympathy usually went out the window though when instead of the person laughing at themselves with humility, they found some way to blame us.
"Those walls shouldn't be here, it's a safety hazard!"
Yes it's our fault you chose the wall instead of the door like one of the ghosts in 'A Christmas Carol'. What were the construction people thinking, putting a glass wall there, and that blasted glass door right next to it?
We never had a case of broken glass though. Thank goodness no one ever walked through with that kind of force. But I think that would have even been funnier, after the scrapes and cuts were cleaned up of course.
But never underestimate the supernatural powers at hand at your local health club pool.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
It seemed like every day at the pool, someone had to ask, "Are you the lifeguard?" It would take nearly every ounce of my being to restrain myself from responding, "No. I just really love the apparel, and this floating safety tube is kind of like a stuffed animal to me. I bring it everywhere I go. Especially to swimming pools. Where I lifeguard. However, I'm not the lifeguard here. If I find him, I'll let you know." With a shirt emblazoned with the word, LIFEGUARD, red shorts and a large red tube stating the same, what the hell else could I possibly be?