I have recently discovered that there is no job in the world totally devoid of some sort of political scheming. Considering I’ve held almost every imaginable sort of job (except retail, per se), I consider myself an up and coming expert in the field of work related/office politics. I feel like I’ve seen and combated it all, though perhaps I only feel that way because of how deeply I abhor all forms of underhanded competition.

One might consider a swimming pool a place of calm and peace in a world of political nonsense, but you would be quite wrong. At the pool where I spent the majority of my lifeguarding career, there was an elected group of board members who met on a regular basis and in general basked in the glory of this absolutely meaningless power they felt they’d attained through this position. The self-importance displayed by these board members was, at times, absurd. The majority of pool members couldn’t care less who was the president of the board, so they’d vote for whomever displayed the most enthusiasm for the job. Let me tell you from experience: these are the types of people who ruin any enjoyment a lifeguard could have gleaned from their job. NOTHING is simple for a board president who delights in demonstrating the power they’ve attained.

They make it a point to have at least one lifeguard fired every summer, constantly nit-picking until they find their intended victim. They over-involve themselves with the day-to-day running of the pool, even though they’ve hired a perfectly capable manager to run things. They make sure they are seen at the pool at least three times a week, showing up at random times to make sure no one is slacking on the job, even when there is not one single swimmer. They NEVER swim. You will absolutely never see this person in a swimsuit, even though they are often present at the pool. They usually lack power in their families and/or at their jobs. They overcompensate for this lack of power by taking what should be a chill and relaxing environment and turning it into an absolute prison.

These sorts of folks make me appreciate even more the Pool Board Presidents who are so cool and relaxed that you hardly even remember their names. These types show up once a week, make sure the manager has everything she needs, and delegate well. They have managed to snag a position of authority and realize how empty that authority really is. They are a joy to work with.

I’ve found that pool politics are very much personality driven and are not necessarily limited to the position of the president. There is a hierarchy among the guards as well, but hey, we’re talking about teenagers who are only just learning to play the game. Not to mention we’re also talking about lifeguards. Seriously, these are the sort of people who want an easy job where they can get a tan and flirt with each other. They aren’t typically interested in moving up the hierarchy.

But every once in awhile, an adult will become a lifeguard. This is typical for teachers who have summers off but want to supplement their income. I totally understand this and will likely be one of these sorts of people one day, when my kids are old enough, because, if I’m being honest, I loved lifeguarding. I hated the politics, but I was pretty passionate about my whistle, if you remember, so I obviously relished the power of the job. Anyway, when you are a teenager, there is nothing worse than having an adult lifeguard on staff. They truly ruin what might be a relaxing job. They do work. They clean. They don’t friggin’ stop. And they automatically head the hierarchy. It is lame. And they can’t help but get involved in the politics, because somehow or other, they are best friends with the board president. And trust me, if the board president is over-enthusiastic, the first thing he does is hire an adult lifeguard and an adult manager. This guarantees that there is no fun had by anyone. And so, this explains their position within the ranks of pool politics. It is an intrinsic part of their association with the pool. They can’t help it.

For the record, I’m a pool anarchist. Sort of. I think there should be a treasurer, a party planner, a grounds keeper, and a pool manager, but other than that, I think the politics are pretty useless, and they definitely kill the buzz of lounging in the sun and getting paid for it. So if I do become an adult lifeguard, there’s no need to worry, my teenage friends. I’m cool. I’ll work (since I worked pretty hard when I was a teenager), but I won’t be crazy. I promise.

{A note to my sister, who happens to be a 22 year old lifeguard: I understand that you are the head lifeguard and you are super cool, but I don’t consider you an adult lifeguard since you started in the biz as a teenager and haven’t taken a summer off. You are of the in-between variety, which I respect most. You don’t take it for granted that you can do whatever you want and keep your job; you work hard. But you know what it’s like to be a teenager with a summer job at the local pool. Therefore, you are not completely obtuse and ridiculous in your demands. Good job, Sista!}