Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I have a high-class problem that I can’t help but use this blog to vent about.  I highly dislike (hate is a strong word) our pool lady, Rita.  I can almost see all of my friends on the island rolling their eyes now because I have been complaining about this woman to them for months.  But, I simply can’t pass up this cathartic opportunity to release a bit of frustration over my inept pool lady.  So, allow me to self-indulge a bit as I rant on.

Kevin and I moved into our house last December, and the main reason why we moved into the place was for the absolutely beautiful outdoor space that it offers.  Especially, the pool.  Kevin and I have never had a pool before, and since the weather down here is always warm, we were excited about having the opportunity to be able to cool down at any time in our own pool, conveniently located in our backyard. 
                                                                      Our Humble Abode

When we signed our lease, our landlord made a deal with us that she would pay for pool up-keep and we would pay to keep the lawn nicely manicured – a fantastic deal for her, I might add.  Anyway, she has been working with the same pool lady for years and continued to arrange to have her come once a week to maintain the pool.  Apparently, she did not get on the hot-pool-guy bandwagon when she hired Rita, which was a huge miss on her part in more ways than one.

Anyway, since Kevin and I have no clue how to keep the chemicals in a pool balanced, we relied entirely on our pool lady to do so, which is how we understood our lease.  Unfortunately, we quickly realized that this wasn’t going to be adequate enough to keep a nice, blue and clear pool going. 

When we first realized that the pool was looking a bit e-coli-esque, we asked Rita what the issue was.  Rita said that the pool needed to be painted.  The paint chips were keeping it from working properly.  Then, the next week when she’d come, we’d ask her again what the problem was.  She’d blame it on the rain.  Then, the next week it was a broken pump.  Next time it was not enough rain/water in the pool.  Or, too much sun on the pool.  Or, not enough chlorine in the pool.  Or, perhaps we had too many people in the pool.  Maybe the skimmers weren’t working properly.  It was the algae.  Etc., etc., etc.

So, our pool continued to be green, or yellow, or any other color than clear blue.
This is the way our pool should look.
This is the way our pool typically looks.
These are our friends, Jen and Stephen.  They're actually in the ocean, not our pool.  I know, it's hard to tell the difference.
This is what I like to call, The Rita Special.

We reached a climax with this situation when I got an email from our landlord stating that she had received a huge bill from Rita, and we needed to start contributing to the cost of chemicals for the pool.  Huh?  Let me get this straight.  We are paying an insane amount of rent to live in a house that was built in the 1970’s because we like the outdoor space with the pool, which I only swim in about 30% of the time because it’s so unappealing, and you want us to pay more?  As a side note, she also asked this of us about a month before our wedding.  So, her timing wasn’t good, and I almost feel sorry for her after she bore the brunt of my bridezilla frustration coupled with yellow-pool angst.  Not a good combination.  Needless to say, we did not comply with her request.

Instead, I went to The Home Depot and bought something that I could start testing our pool water with to see if the chemicals were balanced.  I wanted to keep Rita in check, and this was just the tool I needed.  Of course, what I found was that most of the time the chemicals weren’t even close to balanced.  So, we started bringing this up with Rita and learned a bit more about how our pool worked, or (more accurately) didn’t work.

We expressed to Rita that we were expecting a lot of friends and family in town for our wedding and all we really wanted was to have the pool in shape for the week of our wedding - just 1 week out of the whole damn 12 month period of our lease.

Rita agreed to stay on top of it for us that week.  She came the weekend before the wedding and shocked the pool.  However, a few days later, while Kevin’s best friend was staying with us, the pool was yellow again.  I called Rita.  She said she’d come the next day to fix it.  She didn’t.  Her and all of her excuses came the day after the next day.  Once she arrived, she proceeded to yell at Kevin in front of our guests for not putting in chlorine after she shocked it.  That didn’t go over well.  I believe Kevin’s exact words were, ‘I’m just not sure why YOU are yelling at me for not balancing the chemicals properly.’  Rita apologized.

So our pool looked like crap during the week of our wedding, and I had had it.  The next time I saw Rita I went down to ask her if she could review all of the issues with the pool for me so that I could bring them up with our landlord.  I felt that our landlord needed to be informed of these issues.  We had been patient enough.  Rita did not take too kindly to this, and rather than reviewing the laundry list of issues that our relic of a pool has, she looked at me with demon eyes and said, out of nowhere, ‘IT’S THE DOGS!’ 

And that is the point in time when my alter ego came out.  In my mind she might as well have said, ‘IT’S YOUR KIDS’.  I lost it.  I reminded her of the broken pump, the broken skimmers, the high chlorine, the chipping paint, etc.  And I asked her that if what she was saying was if I simply removed my dogs from the pool, then all of these other issues would have absolutely no impact?!?!?  Kevin, hearing me yelling, came downstairs to the rescue, but not before I shouted at her from the top of the stairs (and my lungs), ‘FINE!  WE’LL KEEP THE DOGS OUT OF THE POOL AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS.’

After further discussion with Kevin, she cleaned the pool better than she had ever cleaned it, and in spite of the situation, we allowed the dogs to joyously swim in it all week long.  Regardless, the pool still looked pretty good at the end of the week.  Of course, upon arriving at our place for the following week’s pool treatment, Rita presumed that she had won this battle.  That is, until Kevin told her that the dogs had been in and out of the pool all week, and that he thought that if she just cleaned the pool well every time she comes, as she had the prior week, then we would be in good shape.  Yes, we have to remind her to clean the pool properly. 



Our dog, Thor, who is a labradoodle that does not shed.
Our other dog, Oakley, who is in and out of the pool every 5 minutes.

Naturally, after my outburst I proceeded to give Rita the silent treatment for months, during which time she seemed to have completely fallen in love with Kevin.  Telling him that she thought he had ‘kind eyes’ and that he had a ‘kind soul’.  Telling me with a smile and a giggle that she, ‘really liked my husband’.  I didn't think it was possible, but this made me like Rita less, and I responded with a silent, inanimate glare.

During this down-time in my relationship with Rita, I brought up my pool issues with some girlfriends one night over drinks.  They agreed that the issues I was having sounded like ‘maintenance’ issues.  They further backed up their opinion by stating that their little kids poop in their pool all the time, and after shocking it, their pool always goes right back to normal.  Wait a minute, their kids take a dump in their pool and it bounces back no problem?  Meanwhile, my dogs shed a few dog hairs in our pool and it’s a colossal disaster that goes on indefinitely?  This is an outrage.

This saga is still going on now.  And, we get all kinds of excuses from Rita when the pool isn’t cleaned properly.  Her excuses include the following: she’s sick (mildly acceptable because we’ve all used this one), her legs hurt, our cars are parked in the driveway, so she can’t get through on her hurt leg, family issues…on and on.  However, my all-time favorite excuse is the one where she said that she couldn’t put enough chemicals in our pool because our pool is too hot in the afternoon sun, so it’s always the last stop of the day for her when the sun is down, and it’s not her fault that she doesn’t have a truck that can transport enough chemicals for an entire day’s work.  I couldn’t come up with a more classic island-style response if I tried.

Last night, Rita came to do her thing.  I’m back on speaking terms with her and I feel as though with time things have gotten better between us, if not the pool.  So, I went down to the pool to give her an envelope that our landlord had left for her.  I’m hoping it is a bribe to get her to do her job since our landlord wants to put the house on the market and needs it to show nicely to potential buyers.  She mumbled on about how she was late because the last pool she worked on was so bad it took extra time to clean.  I’m betting this is a more common than usual occupational hazard for her, than the average pool guy.  Anyway, as I turned to walk away from her, she sweetly asked me if I was wearing lipstick, or if that was my natural lip color.  This was beyond awkward for me, and I was unsure about how to take it.  Since I wasn’t wearing lipstick, I told her that it was natural and thanked her for the compliment.  Then, I politely said that I should, ‘let you get back to your work’ as I went inside. Oddly enough, I think we’re turning over a new leaf, Rita and I.