Being a Pool Boy: The Reality

“Pool boy” seems like one of those jobs that’s all fun and games; movies and TV shows aplenty depict it as a job that lets you get a tan while chatting up the ladies. One recently published article at the Daily Breeze (a site dedicated to Southern California news—a location lousy with pools) is shedding some light on the realities of being a pool boy. Is it all lemonade and scantily clad housewives standing watch?

Not so much.

Well, not according to columnist Don Fulton.

Fulton says he really liked the idea of being a pool boy when he got the job, but the reality was much less appealing than he had imagined. Instead of enjoying the outdoors and showing off for cute girls, he spent more time dealing with the drudgery of manual labor and stressing over the correct balance of potentially hazardous pool chemicals.

My favorite story that Don Fulton shares in his column is about an unlikely “friend” he made on the job. In his words:

"After two weeks of training I set out on my first solo day and arrived at my first pool only to discover a giant dead rat floating near the surface. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with the dead animal—this was clearly not covered in my training—and I felt a little strange just leaving it in the customer’s garbage can, so I put it in the back of my truck. And forgot about it. For a week. Stiff, dead rat with a serious suntan.

I named him Crunchy."

Fulton said most pool guys want to finish their day as soon as possible, which means blowing through your jobs as quickly as you can so you can be home and out of the heat. In the process, he would cut corners to finish quickly or make harebrained mistakes along the way.

"I grew up at a house where the pool was 8 feet in the deep end, but some of these palaces had massive pools that were 15-20 feet deep. I was at one such monstrosity one windy morning and ventured to my truck to get some chemicals. Upon returning, I noticed that all of my equipment—hose, pole, net, bucket—were gone.

Idiot pool guy realized all of it was at the bottom of the abyss. The homeowner had a telescoping pole and net so I attempted to extract all of my equipment, but I lost my footing and went in. It took me three trips to the bottom to retrieve everything, and, of course, the customer called the boss to complain."

And dealing with the chemicals? It was not Fulton’s strong suit. More often than not, it would end up on his skin and he’d inhale the gases emitted because of difficult bottles and otherwise naïve practices on his part. Some accidents even resulted in diarrhea or vomit. No, really. A year of pool work seemed more than enough for Don.

So what’s his advice to pool owners?

"Cut some slack to your current pool guy and, when you see them on the road, just know that they are providing a service and are likely plagued by the same bad dreams, crusty hands, and dead critters."

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