Thursday, August 30, 2012

Past Deadline: The Water Slide Shift

Last week we took a trip to Niagara Falls.

This in itself is probably worth several columns. That is a city that has changed a lot since my last visit in the early 1980s.

Back then, the Skylon and Minolta towers were the tallest things around. There really wasn’t much of a skyline. Today, several 50-plus-storey hotels line the gorge.

Niagara Falls is a lot sparklier and casino-ier than I remember. Heck, there was even a tightrope stretching from our hotel to the Skylon and we watched Jay Cochrane make a daily walk across – high above the traffic and buildings below.

As much as I could devote this column to the natural wonder of the falls and the gorge, the spectacular beauty of the parks, the incredible weirdness of other parts of the city, Marineland (say no more) and the alarming lack of recycling bins in hotels and public places, I’ve decided to write about repetitive jobs.

This phenomenon was something we encountered again and again and again. And again.

Repetitive jobs are nothing new. Probably we have all had one – sometimes they were high school or summer jobs, usually we left them behind, but sometimes not.

In Niagara Falls, we stayed in a hotel that had a funky twisty water slide at the pool. This, as is often the case, was one of the highlights of the whole trip. We visited the pool every day at least once.

The pool was unsupervised except when the slide was in operation. Even then, I’m not sure if the kids doing the supervising were really lifeguards or if they were just on hand to call 911 if necessary.

Each time we went to the pool the slide was running. You had to climb three flights of stairs to get to the top, and seated beside the opening of the slide was a lifeguard/supervisor/pool kid. He had an ear bud in one ear while he worked.

His job was to look down over the railing until the slider flew out the bottom and splashed into the pool. Then he would look at the next slider in line and give a little nod to confirm it was safe to go. Look down, wait, splash, nod. Look down, wait, splash, nod. Look down…you get my drift.

He didn’t seem unhappy. After all, he was listening to tunes as he worked. But I daresay he must have gotten bored after a while.

At least some nerd created…um…excitement during our last visit to the pool by…um…fouling it. Someone noticed the “floater” and one of the lifeguards/supervisors/pool kids sprang into action whilst another blew the whistle and hollered for everyone to get out.

Fortunately we had other activities to attend to, so it was as good an excuse as any to head back to the room, shower, think about showering again, and head out to the wild and wacky streets of Niagara Falls once more.

There is lots to do there, and the kids were able to enjoy some rides. We stood in line for one of them for about 15 minutes, during which time we heard the young attendant holler instructions each time a new crop of riders climbed on: “Adults on the left, keep your hands and feet inside at all times…” over and over and over until finally our kids had their turn and we moved on.

I know in some places the attendants rotate from ride to ride periodically. I assume it is so they don’t go stark raving mad.

Yes, repetitive jobs can be a tough old slog, and it makes me appreciate the variety in my own work. I gotta say, though, there are some days I wouldn’t mind being that pool kid with the ear bud….

Published in The Perth Courier, Aug. 23/12

No comments: