27 October 2005

Pool ladies

Part of the experience of going to the pool is seeing the regular crop of pool ladies that work there. There are the desk ladies and the locker room ladies, and it seems that there is rarely a cross-pollination of the two groups. You know you are part of the society here when the desk ladies at your favorite pool know you have the Árskort and queue up your token before you’ve even opened your wallet. Inside the locker room, the pool ladies sit behind glass or somewhere up on high where they can see when the tourists don’t follow the “wash yourself!” signs and chase them back into the showers. In Laugardalslaug they sit in their little room full of bins of forgotten goggles, towels, and jewelry. They’ve got stacks of magazines in there and a radio, and the instant the weather turned crisp and autumnal, they pulled out their knitting projects. Now, almost every time I go to the pool, someone is working on a mitten, a baby sweater, or a hat. Sometimes they even sharing the project, passing it back and forth between rows as they talk about whatever pool ladies talk about in their long day full of puddles and steamy water.

Every now and then they pull on the rubber boots and go slosh around some water, hosing down the floors, mopping up the wet footprints from the visitors that don’t follow the “towel yourself off before going into locker room” sign (they will chase you down for disobeying that one too). They also spend a lot of time showing people how to use their lockers, or shining flashlights into the lockers when people have lost their keys and don’t know where they left everything. I’ve even seen them turn on the shower for a confused 8-year old, and for this they even have a special extendo-grip pole so they can turn it on without getting wet themselves. These women are a diligent lot. They are hosting buckets of industrial-strength soap to fill the reservoirs, collecting forgotten shampoo bottles, and dealing with backpackers that try to hide their backpacks in the bathroom stalls, and they still manage to knit in three colors during their moments off.

I wonder if there is a hierarchy of pool ladies, if the ones that work at Laugardalslaug get major respect from the ones that work at Vesturbær for their ability to deal with the high traffic and higher percentage of tourists. The Vesturbær pool lady (only one in that locker room) doesn’t have to deal with scenes like last time at Laugardalslaug when there were about 50 English schoolgirls saying things like “Fiona, these aren’t my tights, they have bobbly bits all over them” and leaving eye makeup pencils everywhere. These women are the reason the locker rooms here are so tidy, and maintains the Icelandic pool status as “best í heimi”.

Ship report: Þerney RE-101 is in the slippur for a scrapedown and paint job. This boat is in the right place with an ID number like that, since the shipyard is also in the 101. We also witnessed the transfer of a fully loaded cargo ship on the way to the port in Hvalfjörður. It had to come almost out to Akranes, do a full 180 degree turn, and head back in to get around Kjalarnes.

No comments: