Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Goin' Swimmin

I guess I have to temporarily put a pause to my excessive partying and generally self-destructive behavior for a couple weeks now. You see, while the Labor Day weekend allowed me an extra day of rest and relaxation over the weekend, it also signifies the start of closing season in the swimming pool world.

Much like your local community pools, most residential pool owners like to have their pools shut down for the Winter just after Labor Day, as the weather is getting cooler (though not today) and the kids are back at school. This year, for some reason, more people than ever are closing promptly after Labor Day. I can only assume it is a cost savings move for people affected by the cost of gas to run pool heaters and general cost concerns with maintaining the pools electrically and chemically. In any case, work has remarkably picked up since last Friday.

Add to that the fact that one of my employees is out for the week on a family vacation, another was in a car crash on Friday and totalled his car...and his back, and now my brother has a sinus infection, and suddenly an increase in business just turned into chaos. And where must I go in these times of chaos...


Well, actually I'm forced to get out of the office, temporarily suspend future selling, and try to help promptly complete what is already booked. But in the case of today, that meant swimming. Alot of swimming. Here's how it went down.

First thing in the morning I went and closed a pool in Silver Spring by myself. It is a small pool, so this was not too bad, though most closings require two people. The main reason for that is that the covers that go over the pools are heavy and so are all of the pieces of equipment we need to take poolside for the job. It was my first job of the day, so I had the energy. Unfortunately, a garbage truck broke down in the street right in front of these people's house, so the whole place smelled like a dump. Well, isn't that pleasant. I'm off to a good start.

My next stop is McLean, VA. Usually jobs are closer together but when I go out on the road, I try to take on the more difficult or detail oriented jobs. And nothing is more detail oriented than trying to find a leak in a pool that has about 300 feet of caulking under water. Yes, for the next hour after my drive, I was underwater with syringes of dye, squirting them along the joint, hoping to see a current out of the pool...yep, technical stuff. Good thing I grabbed Wendy's for lunch on my way over. Oh wait, that wasn't a good thing.

What are you supposed to eat on a day when you're going to be swimming? Fish? Because they're used to being in water? Soup? Since it's liquid too? Certainly not a grilled chicken sandwich, large fries, and Dr. Pepper. Live and learn. I wasn't looking forward to all this swimming anyway.

But, J-Man, you do this for a living, you must like swimming. Were you a swimmer growing up?

You don't know how many times I hear this. Does that really have to be the case? Does a proctologist really loves assholes? There's the answer to your logic. Now, don't get me wrong, I love a good dip in the pool on a nice hot day with my friends. However, it's a whole different story when I roll up in my work truck, go into someone's backyard who I don't really know, and strip down to a swimsuit and dive about for an hour in my snorkel mask, in search of a problem. Today, I had the 20-year old daughter staring out at me like I was some sort of intruder. There's really no way to look official when you're wearing a swimsuit and nothing else. When I finally went to the door when I was done, she had this blank look on her face, like "did you really just do that??" And of course, I couldn't find the needle in the haystack, and I left my towel there. Things aren't going so great. On to Georgetown.

Yes, Georgetown. They actually have pools in Georgetown. In fact, I had two stops in Georgetown today...the first involved once again jumping into a pool and scraping globs of mortar that fell onto the pool surface during our recent construction project. Yes, I dove underwater with a chisel and a wire brush to remove mortar. For almost 2 hours! And then the homeowner came outside and wanted to discuss it with me, while I'm dripping wet (had to air dry since I left my towel in VA) and not wearing a shirt. She didn't seem to mind, but I felt uncomfortable. The people who really felt uncomfortable were the passers by on P Street when I ran (actually ran)out to my truck, dripping wet, jumped in the back, and came out with a hoe. The gardening type...though the other would have been a classic scene. They definitely would have thought we were making a porn.

And to continue, after scraping for 2 hours, I then raked the grounds of all the rubble left behind from our work, so the place didn't look like a bomb went off in this lady's backyard. At least this was the conclusion to an almost $40,000 you do what you gotta do. After a quick stop at the other house in Georgetown (the guy that grows his own weed) to drop off some chemicals, it's on to the AU area...staying more local.

I get to this pool, which has also started losing water, according to the owner, and don't know what to expect. What I find is a half empty pool. There's only three places the leak could be and all will require me to swim once again. And in I go. This one is the toughest, as I have to swim to the bottom of the pool, undo the drain cover, and squirt the dye while trying to hold myself still. Add to that the fact that the top of the pool is almost three feet above the water line, so I have to jump to grab hold of something. No easy I guess I am a swimmer after all. This one only takes me a half hour before I find a giant leak down at the bottom. Fixing is just as much of a pain as I'm diving up and down trying to seal it with a silicone putty. It's hard to say whether I fixed it 100%, as I was so exhausted by this point, I was having trouble staying down long enough to watch for more dye. And I'm pruned like a 43-year old man's balls. (Inside joke) I got out, marked the water, and we'll see tomorrow if it worked. And on to my last job in Tenleytown.

That was a quick stop, requiring no swimming. After that, I calculated that my whole day entailed 10 hours of work, about 2 hours of which was driving, and of the remaining 8 hours, I was in a pool for about half of it. Thankfully, I don't think I have to do any more swimming tomorrow.

Is it too late to switch jobs and become a gynecologist?

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