Ange is an early riser. An incredibly early riser.
Every morning she wakes up at 4:30am and works tirelessly to run the Halls Gap Pool in regional Victoria. Breaks are few and far between and she doesn’t get days off.
She loves her job, as the open letter she posted on the Halls Gap Pool Facebook page shows, but is keen for every one to know exactly what goes into an average day.
Ange recently came across a social media post accusing her of being rude to a customer for not letting her children with disabilities swim for free.
Ange, who has autism herself, was upset by this reaction and the language and tone used in the exchange. She works her bum off, and is totally dedicated to her job, and the people who surround her. It’s because of that dedication Ange is where she is today.
Here is her full post:
This is a really long post. I hope you read it.
Hi. My name is Ange. I run the Halls Gap Pool. Let me enlighten you as to what that means.
I get up at 4.30am everyday, except for the days when I literally cannot wake up. So far there have been three of those days this season. On those days I slept in until 6am. I get to the pool at around 4.50-5am.
My first job is to get the covers off the pool, which takes around 20 minutes. After that I vacuum the pool, which can take anywhere from 45 minutes to around 2 hours, depending on how many customers we had the day before.
While I’m vacuuming I’m also watering the grass, which I have to attend to every half hour or so, just to shift the sprinklers to different areas or turn them off and put them away if they’re done. I usually finish vacuuming around 7.30, even though the gates open at 7am. Fortunately for me, my regular morning swimmers are very understanding and will often stick to the other side of the pool while I finish off the last section.
I also have squad in the mornings on Monday to Friday. I have one very dedicated young man who comes in at 7am everyday, and then I have a variety of other kids (usually between 2 and 6 kids) who come in and train with me from 8-9. While I can finish my vacuuming while D is in the pool doing his warm up, once he gets on to the main set and the other kids arrive they have all of my attention.
Over the school holidays I have a staff member who comes in from 8.30 to help me out and watch the office and do the extra cleaning jobs that I don’t have time to do (the changerooms, cleaning the splashpad/walkways, various other miscellaneous jobs that need to be done) while I am in the pool with swimming lessons from 9-12. When I don’t have swimming lessons I will put these other jobs on hold and do them after training is finished.
After lessons, I usually get around a 2 hour break, although more often than not I end up having to run errands during this break, because it’s the only time I get to attend to things like grocery shopping, cooking, banking, all that fun adult stuff you know?
Once I get back to the pool we then have around 4 hours of busy time, which involves us lifeguarding and working in the office. We try to rotate every 20 minutes so we don’t get lazy from staying in the same position for hours on end.
Around 6pm we start packing up all the toys the people have been happily playing with all day, and stacking the chairs, and picking up rubbish. Around 6.30pm I go down to the filter room and backwash the filters, clean the pumps etc, basically get it all set up to filter effectively overnight and the next day, make sure the water is properly balanced. After 7pm and we close the gates we get the changerooms set up to be cleaned in the morning, we set up the vacuum and the sprinklers and we clean some more – really, do people not know how to use bins these days?
We usually walk out around 8pm, although from the 25th of December until the 10th of January this season I didn’t leave the pool until after 9pm. This is an average day for me. On Tuesdays and Thursdays (except for around 4 weeks over the Christmas/new year period) I volunteer as the Stawell Swimming Club coach, from 6pm to 8pm (from 5pm to 8.45 really, with travel time a preparation and everything). So on those days I don’t actually leave the pool for the night until around 9.30pm.
Then I go home and I go to bed. And I get up the next day and I do it again.
I don’t get days off.
No one except my family and a few locals ever says to me “you do a good job Ange. Thanks.”
The only time I take for myself is an hour from 6am to 7am on Tuesdays and Saturdays to train with the wonderful Cassie Hebbard, who is the only person keeping me in some semblance of health.
I don’t even have time to do my own laundry, my Mum does it for me because she did this job for 20 years and knows how tired you get, so she does the one thing for me that she can do.
I’m crying as I’m writing this because I am just so tired and writing it down like this has actually made me think about what I’m doing, and honestly, I don’t even know why I’m awake right now.
Oh wait, I’m awake right now because someone wrote a status update that has since gone viral about how rude I was to them today.
I was rude to you because I’m exhausted and you yelled at me.
I was rude to you because instead of saying to me “do you recognize carers cards here?” you said, “what I have to pay even though my kids have disabilities?”
I was rude to you because even after I said that I didn’t appreciate your tone, you said to me again, “well I shouldn’t have to pay because my children have disabilities and they want to go for a swim and we just want to watch them.”
Your children were right there. They saw you use them to be inexcusably aggressive to someone who was just doing their job. You don’t get to use your children like that. You don’t get to say in front of your children that you shouldn’t have to pay for a service because they have a disability.
That really affronted me on a personal level, because I’m autistic. I am an autistic person, and I resent you portraying to your children that their neurodiversity means that your life is especially hard and you should get special benefits because of that. I don’t care if you actually think that, but modelling a poor social script to children with neurodiversity is incredibly harmful.
I know this, because I’ve had poor social role models in my life. I’ve also had some incredible ones, who are probably the reason I’m able to not only hold a job, but run my own business.
I make mistakes. I make them all the time. I’m not good at reading social situations, and I’m not good at regulating my emotions when a social situation gets volatile.
My job is difficult. It’s long hours and little reward, and when you add in my neurodiversity it becomes even more difficult because it’s hard for me to be around people all the time, talking and being friendly. I don’t really like being social, I would be perfectly happy if I only ever had to talk to my small group of friends and my family and no one else.
But I love my job. I love it. I love getting the pool sparkling clean so that people can come in and use it and mess it all up again. I love watching kids learn to swim with their parents, I love teaching them to swim myself. I even like working in the office and being social with people because it gives me a sense of accomplishment that I can follow a social script successfully. I love the days when it’s over 40 degrees and the pool is insanely busy, and I love the days when I don’t get any customers but I have to be here for 14 hours anyway.
So I’ll continue doing my job, even though I’m so tired I can’t walk straight. I’ll continue doing it even when I have people yell at me because they don’t think they should have to pay to come in and enjoy the facility I work myself to the bone to provide.
I’ll continue doing this job just because I can.
The value of a pool is not in its water. It’s in the people who work there.
Fourteen hour days and 40 degree heat. We feel exhausted at the thought. Congratulations on all your hard work, Ange. Your dedication is truly admirable. Thank you for sharing your story.
You can find Ange’s original post on the Halls Gap Pool Facebook page, here.