Wednesday 24 April 2013

Swim Little Fishes

So the boys swimming lessons have changed day and time.

I received a phone call last week asking would I consider taking the Friday afternoon lessons instead of Monday as numbers were low and they were trying to make up the classes. 

No problem, I said, at the very least a late swim on Friday evening might keep them in their beds a bit longer on Saturday morning.

It was our first Friday afternoon lesson with Dolphins today, 19th April.

Now, I am a bit sneaky when it comes to the changing rooms in the pool.  But only because it is virtually impossible to cram five people into a cubicle made for one.  So I try to make damn sure we are there in plenty of time to get a large changing room.

And furthermore, instead of placing 97 items of clothes, 15 shoes, several towels and three large sports bags in the lockers, I leave everything in the changing room.

I’m not supposed to.

But I do.

So that first Friday we toddled along and I was thrilled to discover the largest cubicle was free.  We got changed in record time and stood on the poolside wondering at which side Oldest Boy’s lesson was going to take place.

It kind of went downhill from there.

No-one seemed to know.  The instructor giving the lesson stopped a male member of staff to ask him.  Stress was bouncing off him in waves.  He answered her with a harried shrug and went on his way.

After it was decided the lesson would take place at the other side of the pool, we all walked over there.

I continued down a little further with the other three and sat Smallest Boy on the side so I could lower myself into the water. 

Shit!  Where was the floor??  The water was well up to my chin and although I am more than capable in the water, I am not so masterful with a two year old in my arms when I have to stand on my tip toes to hold him and at the same time, ward off those who want piggy backs.

When another pool person came my way I asked him was there any chance the floor could be raised a bit as I wasn’t managing very well.

He apologised and said that he knew the level was a bit high at that particular spot but the “lessons came in on top of him” and he hadn’t a chance to remedy it.  He had tried management who weren’t in the office and he didn’t know where they were just then.

To be fair to him, he did his utmost to get me into a section of the pool that was a bit safer for us but it was busy with lessons taking place and a public session also going on.

We got on with it and started splashing about.

Then the loud speakers came on.  Something was said about clothes, changing rooms, lockers and immediately. 

I put it out of my mind.

Until I heard it again.  Any clothes that are left in cubicles will be removed to the office.  I saw the life guard repeating it to a couple of girls who promptly jumped out and ran to the changing rooms. 

I was neck deep in blue water with three kids aged 5 and under by my side and another one a few feet away holding his breath under the water.  I was in my ill-fitting swimming suit hauling us all out to stuff our belongings into lockers and get back into the water again.

But I couldn’t rest.

I kept looking towards the changing area and expecting to see 5 people making off with armloads of our clothes.  I told myself the nappy and bra on the floor would scare them off.

They mightn’t though.

I lasted about five more minutes and then I hauled them out.  Our door was swinging wide open but the nappy and bra were still there.  As were all of our belongings.


Except I was pissed off.  Stressed and pissed off.  

I had handed over €105 euros for less than half an hour in the water. 

I paid €105 for twenty minutes of anxiety.

I had my doubts about posting this one because I sound ungrateful.  And in the grand scheme of things, the boys were none the wiser of the stress felt both by me and the pool staff, but that’s the problem.  Especially today.

People don’t complain enough.

I wasn’t happy.  I wasn’t satisfied. 

Oldest Boy was flying along with his lesson, having breath holding competitions under the water with two friends; the other three were with me, splashing along with their woggles and having water fun.

But the whole thing was ruined for me by the stress of it. 

Earlier on this year I emailed them about how cold the water was.  Even being in the water was cold.

I would watch the lines of kids on the pool side, during lessons, with their vibrating arm bands giving the person next to them friction burns because they were all shivering with the cold.  Once Oldest Boy’s lips were blue and he asked me to get him his towel because he was freezing. 

That same morning I got chatting to a lady who had travelled specially to use our town’s facilities as her daughter was competing in the Community games which were taking place in the leisure centre.

“Is it always this cold?”  She asked me.

So I sent in the email. 

No response.

I wasn’t expecting any but I felt it was important to give them the customer feedback they are always asking for.

I didn’t push the cold issue probably because I had ordered wetsuits to combat the shivering.

That email was on my mind as I wrote this post.  I couldn’t have them saying I was always giving out, could I?   I didn’t want to be seen as a nuisance or a pain in the arse.

Even if I whole heartedly believe it is the nuisances and the collective pains in the arses who get recourse from their complaints.  Exactly because they complain.  And loudly.

 So what did I do?

Nothing of course.  I dried the boys, walked them all out to the car and thanked the receptionist on the way out.

I will be back again this week, and the 8 weeks after that again, for more of the same.  I’m sure.


  1. Bad customer service annoys the hell outta me- but i'll be honest, I am one of those pains in the asses. It was the best decision I ever made- to become a pain in the ass. Now, when I am getting a 'shrug' when I politely confront it i usually raise my voice and say something like 'would you prefer if i go somewhere else?' I say it loud enough that everybody within ear shot turn around in shock and stare at the person. Then they usually go red and mumble no and suddenly they are employee of the month coming at me licking me up and down. you should try it! but be careful, once you realise your power its a slippery slope (heehee)

  2. it's annoying and we should all complain more (to the service providers I mean - obviously as Irish people we complain plenty to one another!) buuut I do think it's hard when it's something you attend regularly. Partly because you have to turn up again a week later and worry that staff are starting thinking "there's yer one" and partly, I thtink, because psychologically we don't want things we do regularly to turn into a negative, espcially something involving our children.
    I am boycotting a chemist near my work for bad service for the last two years but sure they don't know I am - my sister just told me she never goes there either, because of the same staff member, so inspired by this post and the conversation with my sister, I'm going to tell them about the boycott. Maybe.