Thursday, June 16, 2011


Obviously, for my job I spend a lot of time at the pool. Some people may not realize that this entails spending a lot of time around loud, screaming kids. A lot of people stop by when we are very full and make statements along the line of not being able to stand it. I always reply the same way saying that this is my job and this is what lifeguarding is all about. The truth is I probably wouldn't be able to take it day in and day out if I didn't find ways to pick myself up. The most notable of these pick-me-ups actually makes me relish full days. What distraction could I have found that works so well? One word, barrettes.

Yes those little plastic barrettes that girls wear in their hair. People may not realize this but those things fall out of girls' hair all the time especially in the pool. It is usually impossible to figure out who owns a particular clip especially since they don't usually become noticeable until after a large group leaves. (well actually just when the pool is generally less crowded but this usually is right after a big group gets out.) So I will pick them up as I find them and if a girl says she lost hers (which has happened maybe twice in the 5 years that I have been doing this) I see if I have hers. Otherwise I put them in my little bucket (or during slower times when I may find one or two every couple of months I will put them on my whistle) and I keep them.

So this is what I collect. I always wanted to collect things but I never really was able to find anything that kept my interest. Now I know what you are thinking. How on earth did you start collecting barrettes? Well, that is a long and winding story that takes us back 6 years.

It was the summer after my junior year of high school. I was working my first job ever as a lifeguard for the City of Omaha. I technically had two primary pools but I actually only worked at one of them regularly. However I did work as a "sub" at a different pool every Sunday. The pool I subbed at was called Miller Park. At Miller there was one if those kids (every pool has one I swear) who not only goes to the pool every day but wants to make friends with all the lifeguards. One Sunday, of course she found me. She had met all the other guards and I so she proceeded to try to be my friend.

I should probably mention that there were at least two guards who worked at Miller (both male) who collected barrettes. So this little girl wanted to know if I collected them as well. I told her no which brought out a response like "you totally should." Next thing I knew this girl was bringing me barrettes she found in the pool. Soon I was collecting them on my own and putting them on my pack.

When I started work for the YMCA I tried collecting barrettes and keeping them on the pack there but we had to share packs and people kept throwing my precious finds away. So I decided to try attaching them to the only part of my uniform that was able to have barrettes clipped onto it and that was my whistle lanyard. I keep this practice up to this day.
(Over the past few days I have developed the habit of putting all my clips of a certain color on my lanyard for that day. Today was blue, I think tomorrow will be green.)

At my work my collection is well known which is a mixed blessing. See I love finding barrettes. It really does light up my day when there have been a lot of kids in the pool. Now all my coworkers find them and give them to me, which is great because sometimes they see ones that I would have missed. But part of the fun of this particular hobby is the thrill of the hunt and when everyone at the pool is looking I have noticed that I can go a day and not get to pounce.

I currently have 89 barrettes in total from my collecting over the years and I only expect that number to go up as the summer progresses. (Summer is the best time to find them. Even though we are busy at times besides during the summer I will find almost none during the school year and average about 3 a day during the summer.) This awesome hobby of mine has quite possibly been what has kept me sane in summers past. I have a feeling that if I get the job I am hoping for when school starts up again that I will not be able to continue my collection but I am sure by then blogging will have become enough a part of my life to fill at least some of that void.