Whatever is going on in your world today, I’ll bet that I know at least one person having a worse day than you are.
It’s overcast and chilly in Toronto; the temperature is hovering around 9 celsius / 48 fahrenheit. The pool guys arrived mid morning to close my pool; a messy, wet, tough job, performed by two people for 2 – 3 hours. We have never once, in the 11 years since we put the pool in, considered opening or closing the pool ourselves. What happened today validated my decision to leave this work to the pros.
I caught their activity as I sat at my home office perch (at the kitchen table) through the all glass back wall of the house. My mood was equal parts meloncholy and stress. One foot solidly on the bridge, while the other was still on terra firma. The pool work was just white noise and movements in my peripheral vision.
Until I heard him shout.
It’s not the volume of his voice that got my attention, rather, the urgency I heard in his tone.
I looked out to see one of the pool guys on all fours, making his way to a standing position. He was soaking wet. My mind hadn’t processed the scene yet. I didn’t understand that this meant he must have fallen in.
The voice of his co-worker from off to the left, “Are you okay?” Not a single hint of actual concern in his tone though. I turned to look at the one who’d just spoken. He was smiling, in that stupid way that PISSES ME OFF so much. I wanted to run out and slap him.
The one who had fallen in ran from the backyard toward the front of the house.
My mind clicked to the on position. I understood what had happened. This man-boy (he looked very young) had fallen, fully clothed, into my frigid pool.
I sprang into action – running first to grab towels, anything to warm him with.
Clutching an armful against my chest, I ran out the front door to the van and offered them to him. He refused, saying he was okay. I asked him again. Again he said he was okay. Dejected, I brought the towels to the backyard, hoping he might change his mind.
Two minutes passed. I saw that he hadn’t returned to the backyard. I knew he was hurting. And the mom in me kicked in.
Fuck this shit.
HE FELL INTO A GODDAMNED SWIMMING POOL AND IS SOAKING WET.
He is going to take my help whether he wants it or not.
I ran upstairs, scoured Mr. Enthusiasm’s drawers for clothing. A brand new bundle of sports socks! Score! No such luck with underwear (I wasn’t going to offer used ones). I grabbed the socks, a pair of track pants and a sweat shirt and headed out to the van again.
me: Please, I’ve got some dry towels and a change of clothes for you.
man-boy: No, I’m okay.
me: You are NOT okay. You fell in a freezing cold pool. Your face is blue. PLEASE let me help you.
man-boy: (Finally comes closer to where I’m standing. For the love of all things good, he looked barely 18!) Okay…I guess so.
me: Come inside.
He took his rubber boots off before stepping in, and then peeled off his wool socks. I am not exaggerating when I say his skin had a blue-ish hue.
man-boy: This is the worst day ever.
me: I can certainly understand why you’d say that.
man-boy: And it’s my birthday today… (delivered in a tone you might hear from a child)
Plunge knife into heart.
I felt like crying for him. Instead I laid some towels in the foyer so he could step in and dry off his feet before heading downstairs to get changed.
He told me he was so embarrassed; that he felt so stupid. “I’ve never fallen in a pool before…”
I understood at that moment why he had refused my help. He didn’t want to draw anymore attention to himself than he already had. I was so glad that I had demanded he accept my help. He wanted and needed it, but just didn’t know how to accept it.
Dude! You made a mistake. You had an accident. Do not beat yourself up. Just go and get dried up and warm!
While he got changed, I ran upstairs to grab a blow-dryer.
Welcome to our next argument.
me: Your hair is drenched. Use this dryer to dry it up and warm your head up a bit.
man-boy: No, it’s okay.
me: No. It’s NOT okay. It’s cold outside and your head is wet. You will never warm up if you go out with wet hair. Go dry it now.
man-boy: okay… (slumps shoulders and heads to powder room to dry hair)
I offered him hot coffee and Tylenol. He refused both.
I didn’t argue with him; sometimes you have to pick your battles.
He rejoined his wholly unconcerned co-worker and together they finished the job.
An hour or so later, he knocked on the door to thank me before they left, heading out to close two more pools today.
Happy Birthday, I wished him as he walked back towards the van.
And to myself and anyone else who did not fall into a freezing cold pool, fully clothed, today, I say – your (my) day is not so bad after all. Sometimes the universe has perfect timing when it comes to putting things into perspective.