The swimming pool incident

Image via source for illustrative purposes only.

Something weird happened today. I went with my older one to the building pool right after dawn. Thought this would be good time to get the morning sun and no-one would be in the pool right then. I was wrong. A couple of women, most probably East-European (judging by looks and accent) were already there, doing some butterfly stroke laps.

I entered the pool and began swimming on one side, but the problem is that the building pool isn’t too big and one side is almost halved by the big stairs there. The women were swimming on the side where a full lap is possible. I swam a bit on the half-lap side and decided that although there were two women on the other side, I could also accommodate myself, and surely they wouldn’t mind?

I swam towards the other side of the pool, and then one of the women (around 50, with short, cropped hair) tells me, “Are you alone in this pool? Can’t you see someone is already here? Swim normally!” and she says this with a foul temper, as though to intimidate me.

“Well?” I say surprised – that woman was totally devoid of courtesy. If indeed I was trespassing on her property she could have been polite. And was I even trespassing? Wasn’t this supposed to be a shared pool?

“Actually the other side has some steps, so one can’t really swim a proper lap? I really thought you wouldn’t mind sharing,” I respond politely.

“We came here first! We have to go to work so we come early! When we were already here, can’t you see that?” pretty much shouting at me.

I move quietly away, shaking my head in disbelief. Funny how uncultured some people can seem. Then I go towards to other side and offer an exaggerated apology. “I’m very sorry. You are welcome to swim here. But tell you what? In all my time here, no-one, no-one has ever spoken to me this way,” I tell them.

“We’re just leaving in ten minutes, we have to go anyway,” they say.

I nod and smile wide and throw the exaggerated apology once more, this time just saying sorry and inviting them to please carry on. Then just as smilingly, and as though I loved them oh-so-much I told them, “And you know the best part? We’re all PAYING to be here.”

The women nodded (was it sheepish? They did not look capable of sheepishness) and soon left. I am glad I spoke to them and ensured that they couldn’t get away with treating me like crap. It’s a shared pool and the least you expect from fellow building tenants is a teeny bit of grace and courtesy. Away with the temper tantrums early in the morning!

How would you have reacted? Please share it in the comments.

38 thoughts on “The swimming pool incident

  1. Some folk are just rude to the extreme and agressive from the start, some as you found seem to be able to adopt the right of exclusive pocession. The trouble is it seems to be getting more wide spread…….not sure what anyone can do to improve the situation.

  2. If the ladies were gonna leave in just 10 more mins, there was no need for them to create a scene actually. In this case, I would have continued to swim in their side of the pool ignoring what they said and would have purposefully swam from between the two ladies repetitively. This would have definitely annoyed them and they would have left immediately :)
    No apologies as it wasn’t your mistake at all and no further heated conversations because of the ignorance (i don’t care attitude) :)

  3. Run to the house grabbed a knife, pull her out of the swimming pool, stab her few times and say ”Well now, there’s no one in the pool” :)

    If I couldn’t do that :P then I’d have a pretty nice fight and make sure she feels like shit for rest of the day :D

  4. I think in your situation perhaps you have done the right thing, no need to create scenes.

    What I have said above is more like my better half telling me (no need to create a scene). But, the truth is I never react that politely to a rude gesture or a rude comment. I always give them a tit for tat. By nature I am a very happy and friendly person and wherever I go, I greet people with Salams, Hi and a big smile. If people respond warmly I talk to them, if they give me a cold shoulder, I ignore them. If they behave rudely like these ladies did to you, instead of talking to them from a distance I would have gone near and with a very straight and serious face I would have looked into their eyes and asked them: “Whats the matter? Whats your problem? Did I touch you or obstructed you? Do you own this pool? Now, gimme a break and mind your own business.” And, I would have come back into the pool and start swimming again the same way.

    You have to give them a nip in the bud to stun them. In my case most of the time it works, in fact it makes other people think twice before they reply to me after my retort to them. Often it happens when you are driving or parking your car. Most people try to intimidate you but after seeing your reaction they back off especially if you are right and they are trying to bully you. These women were definitely trying to bully you.

    If you know how to speak Arabic, then you should have responded to them in Arabic ONLY, whether they have understood or not, they would have definitely left the pool sooner than they did. :-)

    • This would be nice! If I had said “Maafi Inglaizi!” and moved my hands about in a pathetic manner it might have been fun lol! But the thing is they already knew I knew English as I was talking to my older one.

      Actually they were definitely bullying, now that i think of it.

  5. i would have been very direct and told them that i had as much right as they had to swim because just like them i was paying too. all with a smile and in a very polite way though.

  6. That is unforgivable behaviour and I don’t see why you needed to apologise. And yes we do encounter more and more rude behaviour these days. A sad outcome of progress.

  7. Oh, mehmudah, you are far too nice. Personally, I hate -HATE- feeling taken advantage of or treated like crap because I don’t do such things to people, so if this had happened to me, I would’ve thrown it right back at her. No need for insults or even shouting, but sharp words can do plenty. Even if the apology was to embarrass them, my ego wouldn’t have let me “apologize” in that way.

    She’s way too old and it’s way too early for such ugly behavior! Ugh. Hope it doesn’t happen again.

  8. That was so outright rude!! Some people can be so ridiculous, seriously!
    I’ve noticed, when we be polite and humble, they misuse our nature by trying to speak in an even louder voice and make it look as if we were at fault. Perhaps, I would have done what you did! ;) I mean, we can’t let such people try to act smart with us!

  9. These were selfish woman and though you would be intimidated by what they said. First of all the pool is for everyone and if she has a need to have the pool for herself, then she should buy a house with pool!!! lol

  10. I agree with Laz … let them buy their own house with their own pool – LOL! Seriously, there are some people now that are getting rid of old “crap.” You just happened to be in the line of fire. This incident might have been telling you to feel good about who you are … someone who is willing to share. Be well and stay blessed.

  11. I would’ve ripped into them and given them a piece of mind… but I think you handled it better. No reason to steep to their level as they are clearly low class… and I mean it in terms of manners.

  12. Unfortunately you can not teach an adult education …
    Some things we learn as children, even before going to kindergarten and I think it is the responsibility of ourparents.
    Many times, too many in fact, we are confronted with the arrogance of others.
    You was able to show humility and kindness … this is wonderful!
    Exercise “patience” is a great virtue (for those who follow the Buddhist philosophy) …
    but also avoids trying discomfort and anger… I would exaclty have done the same thing ;-)
    A hug in serenity :-) claudine

    • Thank you so much for coming around and leaving a lovely comment! patience is a virtue, no doubt about that – I really need truckloads of it to get through everyday lol.

      Will be checking out your blog soon, Claudine.

  13. Your behavior and response was admirable in the face of such brashness. If it had happened to me, I would probably stop swimming and give her a long stare (not before I sink down the water), and say slowly, “eeeex…cuse me? did you just ask me to leave?” …then prepare for silent faceoff. Actually, I don’t know for sure. I am very unpredictable when it comes to reacting. I may end up shouting back, or, if embarrassment sets in, I may gush a few apologies and scoot up to the other side like a kicking puppy in the water. That said, you don’t deserve such treatment, and she doesn’t deserve an apology, either. Hugs!

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