As I have stated and complained about in prior posts, I work as a lifeguard at a retirement community. I only have two weeks left doing this arduous and mentally draining labor, before I move on to greener pastures. As a way of celebrating my departure, I thought I would reflect on some of the more memorable moments I have had in my 2 year experience saving the lives of the elderly.
Before I do, I should probably clarify, I love old people a lot of the time. They give me aneurisms almost every shift, they have made me contemplate drowning myself, and they have truly made me existentially question the meaning behind my own existence. Despite this, many of them have imparted words of wisdom that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I have seen kindness, selflessness and I have been lucky enough to have residents that are truly invested in my life and wellbeing. For that, I am so grateful.
That being said, many of them are fucking awful, and crazy, and I will share 5 of these experiences for you now. (Narrowing this down was so hard, I could probably make a list of 9000 if I wanted to)
- The “It’s all your fault” incident – One particularly crazy woman that loves to engage in a bit of water temperature related complaints, and self indulgent rants upon every visit, went memorably hostile one day. Upon her arrival, dressed in a white robe as always, she proceeded to tell me that she hated all of the women that were in the pool because they were fat and they gossiped too much. I did what I spend 90% of my job doing, nervous laughter. She got in the pool and seemed to be fuming the entire time. An hour later she got out, walked right on over to me, and yelled “IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT” right in my face. I’m talking centimeters away. So close I could smell what she ate for breakfast. After this strange and unnecessary outburst, she simply walked away. Not only was I left in shock, but everyone in the pool was now staring at me. Being the go with the flow bitch that I am, I shook it off and carried on. Nothing to see here people.
- The “there’s a snake in the locker room” incident – One summer day, I was sitting watching the water, minding my own business. Next thing I know, a woman marches right on up to me and says “there is a snake in the locker room.” I stared at her with with a blank, unsettled, disgusted, and life loathing expression on my face. Similar to that of when I found out Trump had won the election. #unbiased. She then asked me to get a broom and guide it out of the locker room. I gave her the “bitch who do you think you are talking to” look. An intense staring session continued, until I finally realized that it was most likely my responsibility to get the nasty creature out of the locker room. In hindsight, this is probably not in my job description. I’m a lifeguard not a fucking reptile tamer. My shock clearly eradicated any intelligible thought and reasoning skills that I had. I marched on up, broom in hand, and opened the door. At this point I was was about to piss my pants. The snake was a small garden snake, but disgusting all the same. The snake in the garden of Eden was not feared because of size, it was feared because of what it represented. And to me this snake represented how much my life had taken a downward spiral. How was I even in this position? Anyways, I got the snake out of the bathroom and then I went back down to carry on with my life. Not even twenty minutes later, a man comes down and he says “you are not going to like what I have to say”. The color drained from my face. He then confirmed my worst fears, and told me there was a snake in the men’s locker room. I could not believe it. This snake had really just been forcibly removed from the women’s locker room, like when Russell Crowe had to remove Azealia Banks from his hotel room (so weird), and now it had literally just slithered on over to the men’s locker room. That snake is an asshole. Can’t it tell when it isn’t wanted? Being the shady bitch that I am, I told him I would take care of it immediately, only to then not take care of it. I literally left the snake in there. To this day I don’t know what happened to it. It probably left on it’s own terms. That snake does what it wants when it wants.
- “Jeff and the Bikinis” – There is a man named Jeff who is roughly 58 years old, and he thinks he is hot shit. In his mind he is George Clooney, when in reality it is a lot more of a cross between Russell Crowe and Danny Devito. Why have I mentioned Russell Crowe twice in one post… Is he even relevant at all anymore? You’re welcome for this free publicity Russell. Anyways, Jeff thinks he is a complete ladies’ man, and he has an affinity for bikinis. Jeff has made it his mission to distribute bikinis to “eligible women” that meet his criteria. He has told me that he only carries size small and extra small, and if they can’t fit it they don’t get it. He designates certain colors to certain ethnicities, as well as based on relationship status. The whole thing is extremely disturbing, and he shares this information with me in the same prideful way that others do when when they tell me that their grandchild graduated high school. He is completely disgusting and delusional, but I am grateful for the entertainment that he provides.
- The “how do you feel about musicians?” incident- This incident occurred roughy one month into me having this job. At this point I was still trying to navigate the strange and intricate minds of the elderly. The job was new to me, and I did not yet understand the proper way to deal with people that are out of line. When residents walk onto the pool deck, they are supposed to hold up their ID to signify that they actually live in the community. Normally they would hold it up and I would wave over in acknowledgement. At this point, I had not yet realized that a lot of people just completely disregard this rule. So a man walked in, roughly 60 years old, and I looked over, waiting for him to hold up his card. He did not, so eventually I just looked away. He then walks over to me, and pulls up a chair. He then proceeds to say “I saw you checking me out when I walked in.” I was shocked. I was so new to the job, and so naive. “These men could be my grandfather!” “They would never think to hit on someone as young as me!” I had a lot to learn. I stuttered for several seconds before I told him that I was just looking over to see if he had his card with him. He gave me the classic “sureee” to express that he did not believe me. At this point I wished that someone would start to drown so that I could escape the conversation. He then said “I thought you recognized me” and I said “um…no….why…should I have? ” He then told me something along the lines of him being famous because he was part of some band back in the day. I am so desperately trying to remember the name of the band so I can link one of their music videos (that has hardly any views) but this was so long ago I just can’t remember. Anyways, he then points to a woman in the pool, and tells me that she is his wife. I was like okay… that’s nice…Then he says “but we have an open relationship” and gave me a wink. I WAS SHOCKED, DISGUSTED, UNCOMFORTABLE. I did not know what to say. He then chuckled and said “how do you feel about musicians?” I continued to stare at him with a mortified look. Like the look of a 13 year old girl who just got her period for the first time while giving a book report in front of her entire class. I said nothing. He then said “do you find them to be attractive?” I again said nothing. His wife swam over to where we were sitting and said “are you harassing this poor girl?” He laughed and said something like “she was giving me the eyes when I walked in. She wants me.” This was honest to god the most uncomfortable thing that has ever happened to me. This woman gave me a dirty look as if I was actually interested in her nasty, decrepit, and sociopathic husband. This man luckily is not a swimmer, and he has never returned to the pool since. However, his wife frequents the pool, and she does not speak to me. I honestly have nightmares about this incident.
- The “Should I call security?” incident – There are a shocking amount of heated arguments at the pool. I usually ignore them, and pretend I don’t notice, until I specifically get called over. When I do get called over, I can usually calm things down pretty fast. I hate arguments, fighting, and any kind of confrontation. I think that by shaming people, and subtly / passive aggressively letting them know how childish and ridiculous they are being, it usually brings it to a close. In this situation, it just so happened, that I was training a new lifeguard. This poor girl. She had just turned 16, and she was excited about her new job and the prospect of making money through a method that seemed to be so mellow and relaxed. I confirmed for her that the job was pretty chill, and that there was not too much to worry about. Of course I was lying, but I did not want to destroy the naive optimism that she had created for herself. Roughly 20 minutes after I had furthered and confirmed her delusion, a fight of epic proportions broke out. One woman (notorious for having a quick temper and a boisterous voice) felt as though another man (Russian and always mad) had gotten into her lane space. At this point in the day, there are no lane lines, and it is up to the oldies to swim in a relatively straight line. She truly felt that he was encroaching on her space, and she apparently had to let the entire pool know. Probably the entire city heard. This loud yelling escalated, and eventually she put her hands on him. It was just a quick shove, but it was enough, that I was out of my chair in a flash. I tried yelling over them, but they completely ignored my presence. The poor girl I was training looked terrified. Her voice was shaking when she asked me if she should call security. I told her it was fine, and I then picked up a noodle that was lying on the edge of the pool and slammed it down on the water between them. This finally got their attention and they looked over to me. They both immediately told me to inform the other person that they were the ones that were right. I of course told them that they were both wrong, and they needed to shut up and separate before I called security and got their pool privileges taken away. (Something I don’t think I can actually do). Anyways, the fight dissipated and everything went back to normal. The girl I was training praised the way I handled the situation, and she looked as if her entire perception of the world had just been shattered. She ended up quitting 2 months later.
Thanks for reading my retirement home ramblings, and I really enjoyed taking that opportunity to reflect on some of my more memorable experiences.My time spent at this job has been a wonderful learning experience, and I am truly a changed person. For the better, or for the worse, is yet to be determined.