The Swimming Pool

Two weeks ago, five minutes before I switched off the computer on a Friday evening, my boss came up to me, hissed and yelled at me to quickly send the email out! while I sat there perplexed. Her instructions the day before were to make sure 1) I let her vet every single detail before I sent it, and 2) when I had already told her there were some iffy details that needed to be addressed, she had 3) asked me to clarify with the person. She had neither vetted the work nor approved it for circulation. I then emailed to clarify the details with our colleague, and my boss had gotten mad, and shot me an email to tell me I should just send the email already! Most of the time, similar types of miscommunication with her happen, and I chalk it up to her inability to communicate properly. She has pulled similar stunts with PowerPoint presentations; it was completely all right for her to present data in a certain manner, but God forbid if I asked if the data could be presented in a similar manner to hers (suddenly the manner is WRONG! Use your brain!). To be on the safe side, I had copied her original PowerPoint slides to my desktop and if she ever raised this, I would just show her what the original was. A lot of people in my personal life tell me not to argue, just show some respect, and follow her instructions properly. I could, but her instructions and rules are always random, and I have come to accept that if it’s not the font, it’s the colour, if it’s not the colour, it’s something else. At this point I don’t care about being efficient or right or how to improve as an employee. My boss is also not the person paying me my salary; I keep reminding myself she is merely my reporting officer who is also getting paid by the organisation. I do believe that I could learn about people and behaviour at this job (i.e. stupid behaviour to note, and avoid doing) and because jobs are scarce now, my options are limited.

During dinner and a movie that evening I realised I could not concentrate on anything. Although I have a sense of humour about a lot of things, I must say the yelling affected me a lot, no matter how much I tried to not let it.

It was also the evening I decided I needed to find an activity or an outlet for my frustrations. I have piano lessons on Sunday mornings and I enjoy them because they make me think and improve my memory. While I do it to my friends (I’m sorry!) I don’t like going on like a broken record about what happened at work or how I feel about work.

I chose swimming.

I haven’t gone swimming since I was a teenager, and to prepare myself for this activity I bought a few swimsuits.

I go swimming for thirty minutes most evenings after work. I like the feeling I get when I walk down the steps into the pool (I suspect it’s similar to happiness). I usually stand there for a bit, look up at the sky and sigh. When I do that, I always feel my anger melt. Then I do my laps. I feel tired usually after four or so laps, and I will catch a breather and keep going before my thirty minutes are up. At the end of it I usually no longer think about work1. Then I take a very cold shower for about 8 minutes, get dressed, gather my things, and walk the twenty minutes home.

A few days ago, I decided to go swimming in the morning. It is still the school vacation, so I saw a lot of children with their parents. I was amused. Despite obviously having no teaching experience, fathers were screaming at their sons to kick or stay in the lane and don’t splashhhh aroundddd! (Mother ducks who don’t go to expensive schools teach their ducklings better!), children bringing their Super Soakers (what are they called now? NERF SOAK GUN?), spraying everyone and not giving a rat’s ass about personal space (well, it is a public pool, Bonneka, lower your expectations, swim a little more, then lower your already lowered expectations), and mothers were sitting on the side (not swimming) ready to offer a snack to their pre-teen children.

Needless to say, I did not enjoy the session, stood at the side more than I swam, cut it a bit short, stood underneath the shower for a longer time, and got a hot dog to reward myself for being a good citizen (because I didn’t tsk at any kid, and I smiled graciously at grandmothers hand combing their grandsons’ hair).

I am not a snob. My mom used to take me swimming all the time because I had scoliosis (it wasn’t and isn’t severe) while she read on the bleachers. My mom was the most loving person to me, but even she didn’t mollycoddle me in public, so no snacks or juice boxes waited for me when I emerged from the pool and said “I’m done!” (J’ai fini!).

I still prefer going in the evenings when there are fewer people. I always feel relaxed, and it’s a good activity for self-care.

What are some of the things you do to relax?

1I had a German pen pal once who told me the story about exercising to force himself to get his mind off work. Over the years I have tried a lot of different activities and I do want to engage in strenuous activities to help me sleep better. Some that have worked well: trampoline classes (can choose combat, or ABT training while jumping on a trampoline, 1 minute in should get your blood pumping), hiking, and running on the mill.

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