It’s that time of year again

The time of year when I try to relax poolside but I often can’t because of my mom-ness.

We live in a subdivision with a pool for the HOA members that has had some..well..issues over the years. Mostly due to the fact that there was no lifeguard or security guard on duty.

When we first moved here, I quit going to the pool after the first summer we lived here (we moved in early June 2001) because I was sick of being “that mean lady” to the hordes of unsupervised children who would be dumped at the pool by mom and dad who just wanted a few minutes peace. I mean, I would be laying on a deck chair, reading or whatever and a minivan full of eight and nine year old kids would drive up. Mom would get out of the car, unlock the gate and usher the kids through before running away to jump back in the van and drive off like she was escaping from the police or something. And naturally, because there were no parents around, the kids would act like total lunatics.

Most summers, up until a few years ago when the HOA decided to hire a security guard, the pool would be closed for about three weeks, sometimes longer, because there would inevitably be vandalism. Sometimes this was crap being torn up around the pool. Often this was significant damage to the surface of the pool itself. I remember once calling the HOA property manager’s office to alert them to a hole the size of a large pizza on the surface material that lined the bottom of the pool. It took two days for them to get somebody out there to look at it. When somebody DID come look at it, of course it couldn’t be fixed right then. They’d have to drain the pool, spend two days resurfacing the entire pool (because apparently, it wasn’t possible to patch it or whatever) and then wait about ten days for the resurfacing material to “cure”. When you have an autistic kiddo who hates going to the lake (the water is so diiiirty! he’d whine) and wants to go swimming because it’s hotter than the devil’s butthole after eating a bowl of three alarm chili laced with Thai ghost chilis…three to four weeks is a friggin eternity.

There have been two incidents in which I (rightly or wrongly) got into screaming matches with fellow residents at the pool and one which involved a very snotty thirteen year old girl. One involved a parent who sent his eight year old daughter and her friend to the pool unsupervised. When I sent her home because she was too young to be at the pool by herself (HOA rules say they MUST be at least 14 before they can be at the pool unsupervised), her dad came out and started screaming his face off at me because how dare I try to enforce the rules when it’s not MY job to do so (it’s not. Doesn’t stop me from wanting to though) and how his daughter wasn’t hurting anybody, she wasn’t going to drown, etc etc etc.

The other incident was on a Sunday morning when my son (who was probably 4 at the time) and I were at the pool. We were enjoying having the pool all to ourselves when I heard the gate rattle. I didn’t give it a second thought or even look up because people are FOREVER trying to bypass the lock (it used to be a numbered keypad but people kept giving the code to eeeeeverybody and their dog, so now it’s a scanner thing with a card). A few minutes later, I heard the gate swing open and saw a big burly guy pulling his daughter down from where he’d lifted her up so she could lean over the top of the gate (which is six feet high at least) and open it from the outside that way. The way he broke in made me nervous so I asked if he was a resident. He said he didn’t have to tell me (which ok..fair ’nuff) and I then asked to see his ID to make sure he lived in our subdivision. This made him really belligerent and he started screaming at me. I tried to stay calm and I told him that I was really sick and tired of people breaking into the pool that I paid good money every year to have maintained for THE RESIDENTS OF OUR HOA. At this point, the guy threatened to beat me up, so I backed off and used the emergency phone (it only calls 911. It used to be a regular phone that could dial any number..until a bunch of people started using it to call Mexico, South America and Canada on the HOA’s dime) to call the police. It turned out that yeah, he lived in our neighborhood but he didn’t have his pool card because he hadn’t paid his dues. I wanted to yell “Then you don’t have the right to use the pool, asshole!” but I didn’t. The police took statements from the both of us and I ended up leaving shortly after the police did because I was afraid of the guy beating the snot out of me once the police left.

Another time, that same summer, I asked a teenage girl to PLEASE pull the large metal lounge chair she’d pulled into the pool OUT because she was jumping up and down on it like a trampoline and damaging the surface area of the pool. She and her friends were very snotty towards me and I finally said, “Fine. I’ll put it back. But I don’t want to see you doing that again.”  I put the chair back where it belonged and moved away. But my son started swimming around near where she and her friends were which prompted them to yell things at me like he was bothering them (he wasn’t) and that they were going to TELL on me. Tell who? Their parents?

So during the summer, when we spend up to four hours a day at the pool, I can’t usually relax because I feel like I have to police the pool area (even though, as my husband has pointed out THAT’S NOT MY FRIGGIN JOB).

Now, a few years ago, the HOA started hiring security guards to police the pool area but there’s been mixed success with that. The first summer we had the security guard, the company sent out one guy who treated the pool as his own personal party zone and would bring his entire extended family out to go swimming and have barbecues in the pool area (not allowed!!!) while he was on duty. Then, after that guy was fired from working at our pool, they sent out another man (older this time) who couldn’t take the brutal heat and would often be found sitting in the ‘baby pool’ (it’s about 18 inches deep and has a pipe spewing water from the top like a fountain) in his undershirt and boxer shorts. His uniform would be neatly folded up on a chair nearby.

We also had one I called Captain Military McScreamypants who acted like a damn drill sergeant.

And then there was The Creeper.

The Creeper would hold the gate open for anybody and everybody passing by, even before they had a chance to get out their pool card (if indeed they had one). He had a habit of walking around the parking area (there’s enough room for maybe 10 cars), staring into the windows as if he was looking for something. Drugs or weapons, most likely. As you walked in, he would attempt to monologue at you and if you dared try to politely just go around him, he’d scream at you for being so rude. Several times he told my son not to drink from the fountain because the water was too dirty, too nasty (not true..it’s warm when it comes out but it tastes fine otherwise) and offered him a drink from the cooler he’d brought. I told my son not to accept a drink from him ever because we don’t take drinks (or food, for that matter) from strangers like that. I heard a story about how one night there were some older teenage girls (maybe college age) goofing around and taking videos of each other with their phones. The Creeper started screaming about how they couldn’t video tape him (they weren’t) and he started videotaping THEM with his phone. At the annual end of season party that year, I told one of the board members I was sick and tired of calling the property manager’s office with complaints about this guy and them doing nothing. The board member proceeded to tear me a new one in front of EVERYBODY at the party and then maybe an hour later, tore me a new one again because The Creeper had decided to go sit in his car and whine and moan to his boss about how he was being mistreated by the HOA residents. I was seriously hoping that after that season, The Creeper would be gone.

So color me surprised when, after returning home from a vacation right after school got out the following summer, I saw The Creeper working at the pool again. One of my neighbors (who’d also had multiple run ins with The Creeper) nearly had a screaming fit when she found out he was going to be working our pool again. The complaints from residents piled up and yet nobody  was willing to do anything about this guy. The HOA board said it wasn’t THEIR problem..it was the property manager’s problem. The property manager tried to pass the buck back to the board. One board member told me that it was the residents (probably 20-30 in all) who were complaining about The Creeper that was causing him to have a nervous breakdown and so WE (being the HOA ) were having to pay for his mental health care because we were causing him to have PTSD. I couldn’t believe it when they told me that.

Fortunately, after that summer, The Creeper never returned and we’ve had mostly good security guards.

But they’re only there in the late afternoon and evening from around 3pm until 9 pm when the pool is supposed to close (though I’ve heard stories of late night shenannigans involving drugs, alcohol and naked people). So during the majority of the day, when I happen to take my son to the pool, there is nobody there to make sure the rules are followed. Or to make sure that teenage guys (who seem to lose their minds inexplicably) don’t do stupid stunts that might get them hurt or killed. Or to make sure that parents don’t just hand their underage kids the key to the pool and a small cooler filled with snacks and say “Don’t come back until dinner time!”

I honestly don’t know what to do sometimes. Should I be “that mean lady” and try to enforce the rules? Should I ignore the rule breaking? I have no idea. I’m honestly afraid that one of these days, some kid is going to be seriously hurt because they’re being stupid and/or they’re too young to be at the pool unsupervised and then the pool will close permanently.

It’s a tricky situation, at best. That much I do know.

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