Thursday, July 23, 2009

2. Saturday mornings with Kimmie

My first week at the UBC AC I was told that on Saturday morning someone named Kim would show me the ropes with backwashing the filter tank, and I thought to myself, oh, I hope she's nice. Later that day I was introduced to this big tall hairy manly dude named Kim, and a beautiful friendship was born. In the early days I treaded carefully around the fact that he had a girly name, but that was short lived. Now he's Kimmie or Kimberley or Kimberley Anne (his middle name is Andrew) all the time.

One can't really describe Kimmie so much as experience him, so I'm not going to try that hard here - those who have met him will know what I'm talking about. Kimmie is the person with whom I've laughed the hardest and possibly had the most fun with in my entire life. He's a marvelously complex human being - tall and rugged and manly, yet collects african violets (I think he's got a bit of a problem actually). I took him to the african violet show at Van Dusen Gardens one year, and I'm not sure the blue rinse crowd knew what to make of him. He doesn't really drink, yet when he does he makes sure it's Jagermeister. He loves Star Trek, and any and all musicals. He's hands down the funniest person I've ever met, yet can also be the most serious. He's got one of the biggest hearts of anyone I've ever met. And he can clap the loudest. He for sure holds a permanent spot on my list of top 10 favourite human beings of all time.

So Kimmie and I worked the Saturday morning early maintenance shift together for about five years. When it looked like he was going to lose the shift due to seniority reasons, I changed the criteria for working that shift (makes much more sense, but I did have alterior motives) so that he'd be sure to secure the shift for the duration of his tenure at the UBC AC. We had fun. We made dirty nasty pool maintenance work a hoot. And we hold the record for the fastest backwash ever, at just 20 minutes and change (this job normally takes two people close to an hour).

Many of my other favourite UBC AC memories feature Kimmie, so he'll show up again, but he for sure deserves to be in a category of his own. Yay Kimmie!!!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

1. The Katie and Christa Years

Seriously, those were the best.

Before I started working at the UBC AC I had met Christa very briefly one time at some sort of a workshop - an NLS recert examiner's clinic, or something like that, I think.

I had been working for a few of the municipal pools, but wasn't getting the hours or recognition that I wanted from them, so decided to give up my shifts and spend the summer doing nothing but contract work (full circle now). Contract work is abundant in the summer months, but I was worried it was going to dry up come September and wasn't really sure what to do. Then Nicole pointed out a job posting for the Head Lifeguard position at UBC. I was teaching an NLS course in North Van at the time, and asked the programmer there if I could use their fax machine to send off my resume (which, which I looked at it years later, was terrible) for the job. Later that very night I saw Christa on the pool deck with her water polo team. She came over and asked what I was teaching, and I told her NLS. She asked if I was interested in teaching courses at UBC, and I said funny thing, I just applied for the Head Guard job there. She said, oh, you must be Katie! So we chatted for a while about the job, and I asked her to put in a good word. A few days later I got a call for the interview, and needless to say, I got the job. I found out later that since my resume was so terrible (not my experience, but my actual resume) they weren't going to bother contacting me. But Christa went back to them and said she had met me and I seemed really keen and passionate, so they decided to give me a call after all. Thanks Xta!!!

So I started working there, and immediately Christa and I started getting along famously. I remember the early days one of us would pull out a bottle of lotion and the other would go, "oooh! I use that one too!!" and then one of us would talk about heading to a yoga class, and the other would go, "yay! I do yoga too!!". And so it began. I have never worked with anyone else who I saw so completely eye to eye on how things should be done. We were a team, Christa and I, no doubt about that. We understood that the workload was shared, and when one of us was bogged down, the other would step in and help out. We taught courses together and each complimented the others teaching and evaluation style. When I threw my back out and couldn't stand up straight, Christa came and helped teach my NLS class in North Van. We amused ourselves by terrorizing the swim coaches together (I so miss those Steve and Derrick days). We bartered tasty food for jewellery making. We brought out each others inner crafter - Christa taught me to knit at work, and once I got the knitting bug we would regularly 'compromise the integrity of the facility' (according to our then manager) by knitting under our desks, in the classroom, on our breaks . . . it was good times. Christa is also one of the small handful of people I've met in my life who I have always felt I could talk to about anything, anytime, without any judgement whatsoever. It's a real gift to find that in a friend and a coworker.

I was sad when the Katie and Christa years ended, but she needed to move on, I understood that. I'm so glad we've remained friends, even though we don't see each other quite so often anymore. Christa has stayed a source of inspiration in my life, and seeing her leave the good benefits and regular paycheque life of the UBC AC and enter into the unreliable realms of contract work and self employment and succeed, helped me make the decision to take the plunge myself.

Thanks Christa, you rule! Real hard!

(and she really liked working with me too!)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

the end of an era

This past Saturday was my last day in official capacity at my job at the old UBC AC. I'd use the word 'work' pretty loosely for what I've been doing the past couple of weeks - my replacement started three weeks ago, and after a week and a half or so of training, I pretty much sat back at let him do everything, just being there to answer questions and intervene in absolute emergencies. With a little more than a week do go, my alarm went off at 4:35am for the last time. I rolled over and looked at the alarm and then said to my self, "fuck that." and went back to sleep. Anyways, it's all done now, and the staff did their best to send me off in style. I used to always make breakfast for the staff on Saturday mornings, and so for my last Saturday they put on an extra deluxe breakfast for me . . . pancakes, waffles, scads of fresh fruit, whipped cream, tea, and I drank four mimosas before 10am. It was pretty much one of the best days at work ever. Sunday I went in for my last staff inservice, and that was quite the fiasco. The staff presented me with some tokens of their appreciation - a cookbook they had made with recipes they had contributed with personal messages written on the backs of each recipe, one of the UBC Lifeguarding shirts that the staff had made (not uniforms, just shirts they wear around. it's weird, I know.) with my nickname 'the enforcer' put on the back, and a gift certificate to the campus bookstore to help with my texts come September. One of the staff brought me a 'special drink' in a water bottle which definitely wasn't water . . . and so it began. I knew there was a very high probability of getting tossed into the pool (it's just what happens on your last day) and so I had been carrying around a spare change of clothes for my final couple of days, and since inservice rolled around and I still hadn't gone in, I knew that was the day for sure. And tossed in I got. Twice. Well, once tossed and once carried in officer and a gentleman style. My strategy of just lying down on the ground and going completely limp when I saw them coming for me wasn't so good. Well, maybe it would have worked if it wasn't three buff young fellows doing the tossing.

Then things got ugly. The staff went out to a nearby watering hole for some drinks and appys. This would be the first, and last, time I went out with the staff. It all started out innocently enough with Dan, my replacement, buying me a 'muff dive' which I finally agreed to do from Xta's crotch (thanks for stepping in!). Next was the 'mine field', 10 shots of clear liquid lined up, 5 of which were water, the other five gin. They were shot 30 seconds apart from each other. It was awful. I did have a few pinch hitters, thankfully, but I think they mostly took care of water shots, not gin. Then were a few tequila shots, some other shots, more shots, and oh, did I mention the shots? I think it was the mine field on the nearly empty stomach that started the badness, but the thing that really tipped the scales was when they put a pocket mask in my mouth and used it as a funnel to pour beer down my throat. Huge thanks go to Mike Belly for finally sneaking me out there (and by finally I mean at 8pm) and to Tia for not only driving me home, but for pulling over so I could puke on the way. Needless to say I spent the remainder of the evening and the better part of the next morning wrapped around the toilet. This served as a good reminder of why I am glad my twenties are over. And thank god for Gravol.

So that's it, I'm done. The end of an era. I was 23 years old when I started that job. I owe a huge gratitude to my years at the UBC AC for so many things. I made some of the best friends I have, met the man who in just five weeks will be my husband, got inspired to go back to school and was supported hugely by both of the managers I worked with, got amazing experience and leadership opportunities in the industry, and learned an amazing amount from the people I interacted with. I learned things about pool chemistry and the ins and outs of filtration (like which side of the filter tank produces the biggest hairballs, which are better for throwing) that I never imagined. I learned to become a morning person. I dealt with spinals, heat stroke, broken hips, dislocated shoulders, and more heat exhaustion and hypoglycemia than I knew possible. It was all in all a very good experience.

Staying in my position for seven years is the stuff that legends are made of. The job obviously had it's challenges, and there are certainly parts I will not miss, but I'm glad to have gone out on a positive note. For that, I am going to blog my seven favourite things/memories about the UBC AC. Seven things for seven years . . . coming soon . . .