Wine country is full of people who work really hard to make a living. There is an entire layered ecosystem of people who make wine country go around. At the top of the heap is the winemaker; at the other end of the stack are the “invisible workers.” We see some of the hard workers here and we thank them. Others, the invisible ones, we don’t see so we don’t thank.
We see the vineyard workers who never get enough credit for working under hot and strenuous conditions and we want to thank them. We see the people in the tasting rooms welcoming people from around the world to sip some of God’s nectar and we give them credit for always being the face of wine country. We see the firefighters and always thank them for their heroics. We see all these people and try to show appreciation, although our gestures of thanks are probably not enough.
Other workers are invisible and are not appreciated at all. They are here working the jobs that no one really likes to do and we may not see them even when we are looking right at them. And we rarely thank them so this week’s column is devoted to one group that may be the least heralded in wine country but nonetheless deserves our thanks – THE POOL GUY.
Face it, a swimming pool is a luxury and having someone else take care of it is a double luxury. When the pool guy shows up with a truck full of toxic chemicals you might wave to him or complain about the pool being too hot, too cold, too green, too smelly or too deep. Rain or shine, the pool guy is there preserving a big cement pond that we might rarely use. In the cruelest irony of all, the pool guy never jumps into the pools he maintains, no matter how drenched with sweat he might be.
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The pool guy has to deal with frogs that he probably tries to keep alive and with snakes that he probably doesn’t try to keep alive. The menagerie of other kinds of critters that he deals with — whether he wants to or not — includes bugs, bees, birds, gophers and mice. Immediately after the last big fire, one pool guy recounted horror stories of having to deal with deer and wild boar that took refuge in swimming pools but were unable to climb out.
Then there are the chemicals and the fumes. It’s a rare job where dealing with chlorine is the good part because the other part is dealing with acid. And then, like winemakers, using little vials of colored water, they play with chemistry to make sure the blends are perfect.
“Ah, the stories I could tell!” is the pool guy’s motto but they are always discreet. It seems we all bestow the automatic pool sweep with names that can range from ex-husbands to movie monsters. The pool guy, too, is the witness of R-rated activities that we may not want to share with others so he doesn’t. Given the local demographics, any pool guy might service the pool of famous politicians, captains of industry, professional athletes or movie stars and never tells all. For many here the pool acts as a fire hydrant so it’s important that things are in order.
So let the pool guy fraternity emerge from the shroud of invisibility. You don’t need to help them, I am sure they don’t want any help. A hug may go too far too. How about when you see the pool guy you say “hello” and offer a cold drink? It might go a long way the next time a feral pig needs to be scooped out of the pool.