Summer 2012: The view wasn’t that bad
Four months with no classes—what’s a university student to do? This week, we asked contributors to commit their summer experiences to paper (or, rather, screen). From reforestation in B.C. to gate keeping with Ontario Parks to a NATO youth summit in Brussels, Dalhousie students sweated, guarded and negotiated their way through the break. Read those accounts, and more, in this series.
While the ideal summer might consist of swimwear, sand and swaying palm trees, mine consisted of blue shorts, an Ontario Parks badge and bad sunburn. But through the heat and exhaustion, I managed to enjoy myself and learn a great deal.
As a gate attendant, I feel like I saw it all; happiness, family bonds, grumpy children and angry customers. With a pool that has a capacity of 2500 people and only about 20 lifeguards, the job could be pretty intense at times. It was my responsibility, along with my co-worker, to close the gates and wait for people to leave the pool so other people could enter. As we waited those grueling 10 minutes people stared at us, hot and sick of waiting.
The lineup of 500 or more that greeted us as we were driven to our little booth every shift was overwhelming—but also exciting. I saw it as a chance to interact with people from all over the world and hear their stories as they paid to enter the pool. I watched families laugh and children smile as they finally made it in. Alongside the colleague who became one of my best friends, I got to see the colorful T-shirts worn by camp kids, who swarmed by the hundreds into our entrance gates, and the smiles of teenagers finally making it down the long walk from the parking lot in sweltering heat.
On quiet days, I was able to take in the surroundings. Green land stretched in front of us with a few families enjoying lunch at the many picnic tables scattered around. Seagulls circled the blue sky and a cute lifeguard sat a few meters away, counting the number of people leaving. The view wasn’t all that bad.
Although there were no island breezes or palm trees in sight, there was diversity, a real sense of camaraderie, and a deep feeling of accomplishment that I was lucky to experience at work.