June 18, 2020

I have to admit, this whole year seems, as John Lennon once sang, “it seems so unreal to me.”. It’s like I’m living this existence watching from the outside in, as if I were some kind of a television sit-com, absent of the laugh track.

I’m kind of like two minds about the whole thing. On one hand I’m glad to be free of the healthcare IT meat-grinder where I really didn’t have any kind of life. On the other hand, I have to admit that I miss all the stress, the hassles, and the crises that had to be met and resolved on a daily basis. I miss my team, the folks in both the USA and in India who fought the good fight together. I loved being part of that team. I miss it. On the other hand, I don’t miss the stress, the hassles, and the crises that had to be met and resolved on a daily basis.

I think what I miss most of all is the scope. You have to understand, on a daily basis I’d be working with clients from Gloucestershire in the UK to some lonely outpost on an Indian reservation in Arizona. I would work with large medical centers and small community hospitals. Now? Now I’m dealing with customers having spas and swimming pools running anywhere from 1,500 gallons to 30,000 gallons. Instead of contributing to the health of living, breathing patients I’m now dealing with dads and moms who want to make sure their pool is swimmable by the kids and the grand kids.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it’s just a different thing.

And the challenges I now face are completely different in every way you can imagine. Do we have enough shock on hand? Where are the replacement parts for a backwash valve? Did the registers balance at the end of the day? How do you tell a customer that if they want to get the algae out of the who-knows-how-old water in the swimming pool they just inherited they’re gonna have to spend some serious dough-re-mi on chemical because no one out here is going to be able to drain their pool before Halloween?

And then there are the grifters out there trying to screw our stores out of product. We’re all on the lookout for a “heavy-set Hispanic woman” who comes in and tries to buy expensive filter equipment on her Apple card, then, when it won’t go through she has the poor schnook at the counter dial a false 1-800 number to get an authorization code that turns out to be bupkis. And she gets away with it. Thankfully, she hasn’t hit our store yet!

It might all be anecdotal, but it seems we have a lot of newcomers to Arizona buying houses with swimming pools for the first time. I can tell you I’ve had two folks from Minnesota and at least five from California who are recent newcomers to Arizona. You can make your own minds up as to why – I don’t pry. But it seems to me all the bullshit going on out there is causing folks to leave “blue” states for the more, free, “red” states like Arizona. And we’re more than happy to help them; maintaining a swimming pool is a lot of work, but we can make a difference in their lives.

Case in point: had a guy come in last weekend with pictures of his pool. It looked awful, really green. I ran his water sample through our computer, then advised him on the steps he needed to take in order to have his pool ready for a Father’s Day cook-out and pool party. He was suspicious about the money I was asking him to spend on pool chemicals and the amount of babysitting it would take in order to turn it around, but he spent the money and promised to follow the regimen I prescribed. Yesterday he comes in all excited about how his water looked. I ran his sample through the computer and the change was nothing short of amazing. He was so happy, which in turn made me feel like I had played a small part in that happiness.

So it’s all different. The victories are smaller, but they remain victories nonetheless. And my boss was right: after a few trying days trying to get schooled on the hang of things, everything really is “chill”. The only stress I feel is trying not to let my co-workers down. But even with that, it’s truly the balls. I could never in a million years have ever imagined I’d be doing swimming pool retail as I’m currently doing, but it has been a great learning experience and it’s been fun. At 30-34 hours a week it’s a bit more than I had originally planned to do but the learning experience has made it all worthwhile. By and large our customers are friendly and want to be helped, and my manager tells me I’m a natural at making our customers feel at ease and want to come back. Our sales compared to last year are through the roof, but it’s not just me – all three of us are new to the the store and I enjoy the fact we work well together.

There’s a part of me that misses my old life, but a part of me that doesn’t. Of course, the severance pay hasn’t run out yet, so we’re not feeling any kind of financial pinch; come October when I start getting my pension from a gig a long time ago I’m hoping that will help in making me feel “really” retired when I turn 65. Until then I’m just going to enjoy the pool supply gig I’ve been fortunate to have found and just let it ride for as long as I can.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:48 | Comments Off on Pool Schooled
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