I was standing in the community pool in Bahama Village in Key West the other day, taking a break from laps, when I overheard a man reclining in a chaise poolside tell someone: "It's so nice to come here in the morning to wash off the scum and then head over to the beach."
A week earlier, I had noticed a different man sitting in the pool, shorts half down, long gray beard dangling in the water, picking at his feet.
Recently, everyone was ordered out of the pool because someone had defecated in the shallow end. I was unable to do laps for the next couple of days while attendants shocked the pool with chlorine to kill germs.
Every time I walk through the men's changing area to get to the pool, I inevitably see dirty socks, old soap bars, clumps of hair, soaked tissues, empty bottles and other remnants of guys who apparently have no understanding of or respect for the fact that this is a public changing area. Clearly, they consider this their own personal bathroom.
As a longtime resident of Key West, I appreciate the fact that my tax dollars are invested in a beautiful lap pool that I can use at no extra cost. This is the only lap pool to which I have access.
It grosses me out, though, when I see these violations of hygiene occur over and over again, with no one apparently doing anything about it. A friend recently approached one of the lifeguards, asking the lifeguard what he would do if someone standing on the edge of the pool suddenly pulled down his shorts and started peeing into the water. The lifeguard responded: Close the pool.
I've debated whether to return to the pool. Several friends have already sworn off the pool while others talk about their concerns about the whole situation. One friend even asked me if he needs a permit to stage a demonstration over this.
I'm not alone, that's for sure. Simply put: No one should be put in the position of having to think twice about taking advantage of any public service that he or she has paid for with tax dollars, especially if the health and safety of the general public are cause for hesitation and concern.
It should be a no-brainer that something must be done.
I'd like my confidence and the confidence of others restored on this matter.