Summer Guide 2017: "Let's get a pool" is code for "welcome to hell"

We love our pool. We'd love it more if the pool company could, you know, finish it.

click to enlarge At night, it's almost impossible to see my rage. The disco lights help. - Cathy Salustri
Cathy Salustri
At night, it's almost impossible to see my rage. The disco lights help.

When I was in college — and, actually, for many years after — I ran a pool over the summer for the YMCA (see related story), after which I swore — swore — I would never own a pool. Ever. Too much work, I said. And it was — dumping diatomaceous earth over the filters, making sure the chlorine levels stayed stable, testing the water, shocking the pool, skimming the pool, washing the tiles — nope, never, not for me.

And then the Universe reminded me that when I say "I will never," it sees it as a goddamn challenge (I will never get married, I will never own a cat, I will never go gluten free... oh, the humanity). 

Four years ago, we bought a corner house on a double lot and it had — how do I say this nicely — a backyard in need of attention: a rotting deck, northern plants that never grew past "scraggly" and a makeshift hot tub (the kind you piece together yourself and throw a liner in, then power with something that looks like a super-powered hair dryer). We remade the yard but I remained firm: No. Pool. 

"I will never have a pool," I said. 

This January, we signed on the dotted line. We're getting a pool.

We decided to build a hot tub attached to a small pool. With seating. And a sun shelf. And a waterfall. And a re-made (again) backyard with new irrigation and a fire pit.

In my defense, it seemed like a good idea at the time. But then, so did Communism.

"We're on the Pink Flamingo Tour of Homes in March," I asked our landscaper and pool company, my pen poised over the contract. "Can you be done by March 6?"

"No problem," they promise. 

Spoiler alert: They lied.

The sun shelf that was harder to fix (apparently) than the space shuttle. I've seen houses built in less time. - Cathy Salustri
Cathy Salustri
The sun shelf that was harder to fix (apparently) than the space shuttle. I've seen houses built in less time.

The pool company fucked up the sun shelf, and it took them two weeks to get someone in to fix it. That delayed everything for the landscapers, who brought me a whole dead wild hog to sweeten the deal (and a huge thank-you to New World for roasting that hog for all of us at CL). It tasted like heaven, but, honestly, March 6 is getting closer and we're living in a dirt pit with a hole in the middle. The landscaper offers another hog, which never materializes. That's OK: I don't need a hog; I need a goddamn pool. I want my yard back, you sweet-talking good ol' boy.

To be fair, it wasn't the landscaper's fault. He was waiting on the pool company to get their shit together. Of course, he persuaded us to use this particular pool company, so he's not completely off the hook.

And about that hole: While digging it and moving trees, we lost an avocado the landscapers promised to move, the pool guys smashed my paddleboard, and also tore apart a shed. They broke our existing irrigation, proving problematic for newly transplanted citrus trees, which, newly transplanted to the front yard, promptly died. 

"Well, that's what you get with construction," the landscaper's project manager told us. That's when I walked inside and screamed into a pillow, because killing the project manager before the job was done seemed counterintuitive to finishing in a timely fashion. 

This is a weapon of mass destruction, according to my paddleboard, shed and irrigation system. - Cathy Salustri
Cathy Salustri
This is a weapon of mass destruction, according to my paddleboard, shed and irrigation system.

The Tour of Homes came and went, and we let people look at our nice hole in the ground and urged them to be careful stepping into our dirt pit. No one at either company apologized for messing up the progress and breaking their promise; they went so far as to put a company sign in our backyard so other people could maybe pay them for the privilege of being miserable, too.

That was March. This is May. The pool is not done. It's been five months. Oh, it looks done, but when we run the hot tub, the blower is so overpowered it pushes the jets across the hot tub. We don't know how to take care of the pool — the promised "pool school" has yet to happen. Then the pool turns green, and not a "Florida Keys" aqua — more of an "abandoned home" green. We texted the pool company, who didn’t answer us for six days, and then only to say it was our responsibility, to which El Cap explained that since they hadn't finished working on it, dropped off the salt we needed (and was included in the scope of the job), or showed us how to take care of it, no, it is not. Not yet.

We're still waiting on that salt, by the way.

It's OK, I tell myself as I launch the app to set the hot tub to heating. Yeah, an app. That's pretty cool, right? In all, I'm happy; the landscape company did an amazing job, and we love our fire pit with the green and blue glass rocks. I toy with not writing this article for the Summer Guide. It's fine, I tell myself. Really, it is.

Well, it would be... if the damn heat would turn on.

And here's the bitch of this, the thing no one tells you about putting in a pool: This is normal. This is how it's supposed to go.

click to enlarge Our fatal flaw was getting excited and taking the pool guy at his word. - Cathy Salustri
Cathy Salustri
Our fatal flaw was getting excited and taking the pool guy at his word.

I realize this is all the whine of the privileged. I realize there are people out there without a place to sleep tonight. I don't believe for a second this is as bad as any of that. Nevertheless, we paid good money for this pool, and I don't believe it's too much to ask that the pool, you know, not turn green, get heat when it's supposed to and not shoot hot tub jets across the hot tub when we turn it on.

But then, maybe what I'm describing is Scott and Becky's pool.

About The Author

Cathy Salustri

Cathy's portfolio includes pieces for Visit Florida, USA Today and regional and local press. In 2016, UPF published Backroads of Paradise, her travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours that was featured in The New York Times. Cathy speaks about Florida history for the Osher Lifelong Learning...
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