The problems quickly revealed themselves as I needed to ask one man not to block the emergency exit with his chair and cooler. Much to my surprise, he looked at me and said, "that orange vest makes you feel pretty important, doesn't it?" What? Oh yeah...the orange vest is my attire of choice when I want to feel especially important.
I blew off my first encounter as I walked over to two other men who leaned against another emergency exit and pushed against the door. Once again, I asked them to set up their stuff in that area and asked them to not open the emergency exit door. They looked at me...pushed the chairs away from the door but stayed where they were. Fine. I turned my back on them to answer a question from an elderly woman visiting our pool for the first time with her 3 grandchildren in tow. Behind me the two men started mocking me, my vest, my general purpose for being at the meet...I was more upset about the mocking of the vest. I mean...c'mon! Who doesn't want to wear an orange vest at a swim meet?
Lesson learned: children are better behaved than most adults. How sad is that? Not once during my 6 hour stint as safety monitor (a parent volunteer, by the way!) did one child mouth off to me or try to disobey the rules. Not once.
I am not exactly a poster child for conformity, there's no question about that. But this experience made me wonder why adults feel the need to lash out at a relatively non-important volunteer swim meet safety monitor who only wanted to keep emergency exits free. Is it an underlying anger about our positions in life, for the stress of making ends meet in today's economy or just a general lack of respect? I don't have the answers. I will say I was relieved to take off that orange vest at the end of the day, though!