"Pool Closed." My wife and I and our three children huddled around the sign with wide mouths and a beach bag full of goggles and squirt guns. We had strolled by the hotel pool just ten minutes earlier, smiling as another family laughed and splashed together. And now it was—closed?
It had been a rough week. We needed this winter weekend getaway, even if only to the next town for a one-night stay, a nice meal, movies, and...swimming.
Pool. Closed. The sign was mocking us. With heavy hearts, my wife and kids returned to the room. I huffed over to the front desk.
"So what's wrong with the pool?" I asked the manager.
"Maintenance guy can't get here. On another call," he replied, bouncing his eyes between the computer screen and paperwork.
"I called this morning and you said the pool was open. That's why we chose this hotel." My ears were heating up.
The manager glanced right, then left, and leaning forward he quietly said, "Sir, I'm really sorry. A child just vomited in the pool."
Son of a gun. One of those kids barfed in the pool. Our pool. Thanks, other family, for infecting our chlorinated blue lagoon. Thanks, other family, for ruining my family's weekend. Thanks.
On our previous getaway, I opted for a cheaper hotel to save money. That bought us a dirty room and an outdoor three-man pool nestled between two parking spaces. This time I paid for a superior hotel with an indoor pool paradise, and I still lost.
With no flip left in my flop, I trudged back to the room. On the other side of the door I could hear bathing suits being shed, suitcases zipping, and television channels flipping. I thought about phrases I'm always imparting to my children, like Count your blessings and Make the best of it, or Could be worse. And lest I forget, At least the room doesn't smell like smoke! My adages always seem to pass right through their little heads, and on this farcical day, the words almost passed right through mine.
Brock, this starts with you. I forgave that other family for ruining my weekend. Actually, I forgave myself for blaming them—their aquatic holiday had also turned rancid. And, like a butterfly freed of its cocoon, the words left my lips—make the best of it. I opened the door.
All four were seated on the double beds, watching television, and to my surprise, wearing bathing suits.
"Sorry guys. Pool's closed."
"Daddy, we can swim in the hot tub!" shouted our 11-year-old daughter.
"It's too small," I replied, "plus it's cold outside and the water will be too hot to swim very long. And it's probably closed."
"We can ask the manager!" she said, reaching for the phone.
"Yeah, Dad!" said our youngest son, jumping from one bed to the other. "Let's make the best of it!"
For the next thirty minutes, we sat outside, neck-deep in a hot tub—floating, splashing, laughing at winter’s chill.