Pitch and Poles not Slo-Mo buff umm… jiggling. Got the stupid uniform suit thing right, full timers have 3, a good one, one on requisition so you can start using your good one, and the rags you actually work in. Rinse thoroughly and hope they dry enough in your locker so you don’t have to put them on sticky damp tomorrow.

Takin’ It To The Streets – The Doobie Brothers 1982

I certainly don’t want you to think Syracuse is some kind of scary urban hellhole. I lived in a converted Victorian a block from a big Park, King Bedroom, Full Bath, Galley, Nook, and a seriously large living room. My next door neighbor, Lacerta, kept Snakes, Spiders, and Lizards as pets. It had more diversity than I was used to but I found the people generally friendlier and nicer than they were in Stars Hollow.

One particularly friendly and nice person I had previously known in Stars Hollow. I’ll call her Joan because she’s a big deal Lawyer now.

It is a source of constant amazement that anyone tolerates me at all. Joan apparently liked me well enough even though our primary social circles touched but tangentally. We shared an American History Class marked by unabashed drooling dozing in the hot window seats, hands perma-raised, correct answers burbling tag team from our lips.

In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the… Anyone? Anyone? …the Great Depression, passed the… Anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which, anyone? Raised or lowered? …raised tariffs, in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. Did it work? Anyone? Anyone know the effects? It did not work, and the United States sank deeper into the Great Depression. Today we have a similar debate over this. Anyone know what this is? Class? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone seen this before? The Laffer Curve. Anyone know what this says? It says that at this point on the revenue curve, you will get exactly the same amount of revenue as at this point. This is very controversial. Does anyone know what Vice President Bush called this in 1980? Anyone? Something-d-o-o economics. ‘Voodoo’ economics.

I imagine everyone else in class just hated us. We obviously didn’t care at all and broke every curve. At the time Joan was sporting her Goth/Biker Rebel look while I was full on Sartre Existential Crisis. Ran the Library (oh, did I mention I was a volunteer Librarian? One period a week and all the keys.) dead out of Camus and was despairingly deep into Kierkegaard whom I understand better now.

Anyway Joan was “cool” and I wasn’t (noticably to me at the time) anything much. In retrospect I realize that many people envied my nigh untouchable immunity that was merely an accident of undiscovered crime and mischaracterization. I was the perfect guy to hide your stash if you needed it because I was not tempted and I’m not a snitch. Never had to, but I would and people knew it because even then I was a fairly militant Civil Libertarian.

Joan was also in my WSLI Class and while others were a tad reluctant to partner up with 93 pounds of cunning and gristle I simply asked she not hurt me, too much, and she didn’t, too much. I think she lied. She was never 93 pounds, it was simply the minimum.

After parting ways with the University of Connecticut because of disagreement about my education (I have many, many more slanderous things to say, but I’ll save them for another day) she heard I was between Institutions and unsolicited renewed her invitation (she thought given my career goals my list of Ivies and Fallbacks a poor fit) to grab a space at Big Orange and she’d help me find a cot and a gig.

Slept on her floor for a month before I got my place which I’ve told you about. The gig was with Parks and Rec as an Instructor/Life Guard full time, with benefits.

Look, I told you she was cunning and a big deal.

For my test I had to pass a written and for the practical you had to swim 450m and demonstrate a Takedown.

A Takedown is when someone jumps in the water and flails about pretending they’re drowning. Forbidden from using any of the common sense approaches like tossing them a float or a line, or hooking them with a stick, you’re supposed to dive in and hand wrestle them to the side of the Pool.

That is a monumentally stupid idea and I recommend with all my professional expertise against it. If not trained do not even attempt otherwise we’ll be fishing out 2 dead bodies on hooks.

Of course they gave me the 6’3″ 230# Steroid Abusing Christian Metal Pothead (I later worked for him at Nottingham, he wasn’t so bad). Fortunately I had a fool proof plan and an airtight alibi. The best way to gain control of people in a drowning situation is to ambush them from below.

You see, on some level they expect you to be fair, to come into range so they can climb on you. Turtles all the way down Bucky. You dive out of reach and drag them under by the ankle. You crawl up their back, zap them in a Full Nelson and kick for the surface.

Now you can horse them to the side that way or go to a single or double breast carry, but I like the Hair Pull (at the Hair Line, ruffle from the back and coil the pull fingers to lock them) which puts both the subject at a nice safe arm’s length and encourages co-operation due to pain compliance (squeeze please) and the threat of permanent cervical injury (hey, you just tried to kill me you bastard, drive around in a Dr. Xavier chair for the rest of your life).

Anyway, I passed and actually looked like I knew what I was doing, Pam Andersen style (Hasselhoff was an airhead Pec Pretty Boy) having survived the rigors of the Stars Hollow Death Trap. Pools? Abusing defenseless little people? I am sooo down with that. Took 30 seconds in my first live jive class for my Supervisor to catch me turning my back on a kid. First of all I didn’t really have any practical as an Instructor and secondly it’s not best form but on a scale of 1 – 10 about a 3, maybe a 2. It’s not like I tossed them off the end of the Springboard and cackled as they sank to the bottom, my 2’10” waif dutifully wall kicking in 3′ of water on my right so I could hear them was out of sight when I turned to address other class members on my left.

My bad. I had to go back and re-read the chapter on Class Management.

The mainstream Primary School students were basic and conventional. We also made a specialty of training the severely Learning Disabled and you haven’t lived until you’ve shut down the pool to let the filters do their thing while you fish the floating turds out with nets or pried a 21-year-old with lots of hormones and little self control off your waist. The guy I ruined the life of I coaxed and pressured from a fetal position by the wall to face wetting and blowing bubbles. Only took 2 years and the 3rd he opted for something else because I was such a hard ass.

But don’t get me wrong, Life Guarding, even full time with Instruction is not such a terrible job. We had a crew of 5 or 6 plus a Supervisor. You got wet about 4 times a day and in between we played Pitch (also known as ‘Setback’ you Hartford suckers) with damp cards at the picnic table on the deck (Office wasn’t big enough) FOR MONEY!

The Onondaga LaCrosse Player and I pretty much cleaned up, everyone else not so much.

Winters (long and early) we’d get our season night passes to Greek Peak in Tully and at least 3 times a week we’d drag in our boards (which rot something terrible at the edges in the atmosphere) and after work we’d bop down and bash moguls to powder.

Valley Pool is a totally real place I really worked at-

Valley Pool

Not quite as dingy as I remember.

Summers, because of my dutiful scut work (I didn’t mind, others considered it a hardship), I was posted to the premier Pool in the City- Nottingham High School. Capable of hosting an Olympics the 10m Platform feet and head was a rite of passage but we didn’t have to police it. 1m Springboards only and 90% of the time we were configured for Water Polo so no diving at all.

But we were staffed for it and during your 1 – 9 shift you could expect about 4 or 5 deck rotations. Not hard, you got out soon enough to hit the parties and slept late enough so you didn’t feel compelled to leave early.

I also subbed Winters during School Breaks and one memorable day hiked the 2 miles or so from my Apartment in weather so cold my car wouldn’t start. Still, full time, with benefits. Including Vacation and Sick Days most of which I blew on being actually sick and visiting Stars Hollow on the Holidays.

At the time I was too naive to understand how captive I was to City and State politics and policies but they made a reasonable Bohemian existence possible if you didn’t mind the snow. I might have persisted but other opportunities presented themselves closer to Stars Hollow, so I returned.

It was the end of my Life Guarding Career, not that there’s much of a path from Instructor to Head Honcho, Parks and Rec, in the Org Chart.