All that splashes is not gold
Jayde Atchison (She/Her) // Opinions Editor
Anytime that I see a distinctively new couple hanging out in the pool and hot tub for what I can only assume is a date, I am always appalled, and wonder what would possess them to think this is a romantic setting. Don’t they know they are making-out in what is essentially human soup? Just like how people that work in fast food don’t like to eat fast food, lifeguards don’t often like to hangout in public pools. Once you have seen the nightmare-fuel that exists in a hot tub, you can’t go back in with the same enjoyment.
Pools are disgusting, there’s no getting around it. Each public swim leaves behind a stew of band-aids, pee, clumps of hair and a dark despair from the lifeguards left to clean up. In the thirteen years I have worked as a lifeguard, I have had to facilitate innumerable pool closures because someone had an accident and there was a “code brown” that needed immediate chemical treatment. One year, I was on an unlucky streak — every Friday for six weeks I had to shut down one of the swimming areas due to a fecal incident.
With all these incidents, it’s often a question of why I go back each day and get back in the water to teach. My honest answer is that the money is too good to turn my back on, and the chlorine levels usually give my skin enough of a chemical peel and I don’t feel dirty at the moment. Plus, I have taken it upon myself to shower in, what I can only assume is, water hot enough to make tea with.
Every step around a pool deck, taken without shoes on, is a risky game that usually ends up in athlete’s foot or plantar warts. People are inherently gross creatures with an abundance of skin problems, digestive issues or other typical, yet yucky, human conditions. Each time I see a kid put their face in the water of a hot tub, put the water in their mouth to spit out like a fountain, I have to choke back the bile that is trying to worm its way out of my body.
If you have a weak stomach, and love a good hot soak, I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this — but hot tubs are the most vile places on the planet. If you ever see a hot tub with external bubbles that resemble soap, run in the opposite direction and bleach your whole body just in case. Those bubbles are not soap, and are actually a mix of dead skin cells, urine and other unmentionable human byproducts. Luckily, most facilities keep diligent track of their chemicals and actively prevent the ick factor.
Baywatch gave the world the idea that lifeguards have a glamorous and flirty job, but the reality is much less appealing. I have become pretty desensitized to broken forearms, split open foreheads, and even feces. It is what I signed up for when I took on a more full-time schedule in a supervisor role. However, no matter how many years or incidents I experience, it doesn’t seem that I will ever get used to vomiting. Any time a child has climbed out of the pool with the green look on their face, and yaks up on the pool deck, I almost always remake the scene in The Office with the sympathy vomit train.
I will probably remain in aquatics for a few more years, and I can safely say that it will not become any less nauseating. Kids will continue to sneeze into my mouth, grown men will continue to shave in the sauna, and people of all ages will continue to poop in and around the pool. While Baywatch may have ruined my life, I do appreciate the steel stomach I’ve gained, my ability to handle a crisis, and a paycheck that got me through university without debt while living in my own apartment.