How I spent my summer “vacation”
My summer was wasted to such an extent that I find it tough to write about. I did have a job. It just happened to be the type of job where customers ask things like “you’re how old?”
During one of the last weeks the Montgomery Country Club pool was open, I found out the co-worker I’d found it easiest to befriend was a Junior … in high school. While there was a paycheck involved, the only true exertion I faced as a lifeguard was handling the excessive boredom.Well, that and not throttling the over-indulged country club kids who’ve seldom heard the word No.
The part of the job that proved most rewarding was working the early morning shift. Rich, wrinkled ladies arrived before the sun had even cleared the horizon, hoping to swim some laps before “the boys” — master of the universe-type execs swimming laps to keep the receptionists interested — got in and ruined the glassy smooth pool surface.
One lady, Mrs. Jennie, we’ll call her, had the slowest freestyle swimming stroke I’ve ever seen. Barely pulling hard enough to keep her body horizontal, Mrs. Jennie’s reach, pull, reach, pull approached the pace of a pinwheel on the moon. The quarter-mile she swam each morning seemed a miracle of physics. But as long as I arrived on time, I was Mrs. Jennie’s best friend.
“Those boys stir up the water so much,” she said of the 40-something men who shared the pool’s dawn patrol, “that I almost drown trying to swim.”
It was a challenge for me to start work at six in the morning, especially since the 40 minute commute had my alarm clock blaring at 4:30 a.m. But as I blearily reached for the snooze bar, my mind saw Mrs. Jennie tapping her foot below vericose, wrinkled legs, making it clear that I’d not only ruined her morning swim, but the entire day that was to follow.
Old rich folks are good at guilt-tripping, even though it’s likely Mrs. Jennie had a slightly nicer pool right in her backyard. But there wouldn’t have been an overqualified lifeguard at her home pool, watching and ready for the stroke, coronary or broken hip that always seemed mere minutes away.
The pay was every bit as good as your average college summer job, maybe better, but I’m almost 30 years old. I’ve got a bachelor’s degree. I’ve been the managing editor of a daily newspaper. What am I doing here?
Oh yeah. Debilitating laziness. Dark, inescapable depression. The need f0r a job inconsequential enough to blow off the next time my wife doesn’t feel like watching the kids.
I’ve been fired from my last two jobs because I regularly left the office to take care of my babies when mommy just didn’t feel well.
It’s left my ego in ruins, and my self confidence feels like it’s on extended sabbatical. So I reverted to what worked in college: lifeguarding.
But now the summer’s over. We survived triple-digit August and the pool water is getting cooler every night. Soon, the ladies will go back to walking laps around the golf course, or at the mall before the stores open.
Maybe I’ll figure out another job that’ll allow me the flexibility my kids, my wife, my life require. Either that or she’ll leave me because she’s tired of being broke, and I’ll follow the path of so many in GenY … move back in with mom and dad.
Or maybe …