Tahlequah Daily Press

March 17, 2014

A sense of entitlement

Managing Editor

TAHLEQUAH — I didn’t get to shave my legs today. The problem is a sense of entitlement.

There are four shower stalls at the Muskogee swim center, but you have to be as scrawny as Ann Coulter to use three. The fourth is the handicap stall, which has a bench – and which every woman, able-bodied or no, tries to snag so she can shave her legs. I don’t shave my legs at home anymore because we have a propane hot water heater. If you’re familiar with the nauseating price of propane lately, I needn’t explain further.

I’m annoyed that the young, in-shape babes feel entitled to the big shower. Before advancing age and psoriatic arthritis took a toll, I could shave my legs standing up. In my opinion, these girls should be considerate of the old and infirm, and opt for one of the thin showers. Instead, they loiter outside the handicap stall and wait. Friday, a gal came into the locker room and yelled: “Judy, is that you?” Judy confirmed, and her friend hollered, “Can I have that shower when you’re finished?” This, despite the fact that two other 20-somethings were already in line for it.

The shower situation is the least of my worries. It’s the increasingly hostile battle for a lane that’s cause for concern.

I swim two days a week, and I’ve been trying to get there at 5:30 a.m. right when the joint opens, because I need to be at back in Tahlequah and at work by at least 8:30. These days, more people are showing up in the wee hours. I assumed most were getting in laps before work, but  that’s not always the case. I’ve learned that of about a dozen regulars, at least four work, but the rest probably don’t. Three are retired, four are on disability, and one is a mom taking her strokes before she gets the kids off to school.

There are several women who make me look like a malnourished model by comparison, and one says she’s swimming to improve her health – but not too much, because if she gets too fit, she might have to get a job. She and many others don’t actually swim, but take up lanes to mosey back and forth until they get bored. Tuesday, she asked if I could relinquish my lane because it would only take her 20 minutes to do her water-stroll. I asked her if she had someplace to be, and she said, “No; you know I’m on disability.” I reminded her I had to go to work. She was embarrassed, but not so much that she didn’t move on to the guy in the next lane, who had heard what she said during his flip-turn. “Since I probably pay for your membership, you can wait until I’m finished,” he said acidly. I made a  quick break for the deep end.

The pool has six lanes, but the two middle ones are out, because the drains are below them, and I’ve confessed to my phobia about that. One outer lane has stairs, but since I swim “blind,” I run into them during turns. I don’t wear goggles, because I don’t want to see the drains clearly, and because the eyewear causes psoriasis outbreaks. That leaves me with two lanes, and one has the chair that lowers handicapped and obese folks into the water. The lane isn’t reserved for handicapped people, but a couple of them believe it SHOULD be. So when I occupy one of those lanes and certain folks show up, they talk bad about me behind my back. My handicap isn’t always obvious, so they view me in the same way as I view the young girls battening upon the big shower.

The other day, a man with a walker asked me to give up the lane so he could do his 30 minutes. I asked if he was in a hurry, and he said it was none of my business. Childishly, I reminded him I was there first, and that he’d just have to wait. He called me a bad name.

By now you may suspect I’m the one with the sense of entitlement. Perhaps that’s true. But since no wealthy donor is offering me use of a private lap pool, the battle will go on – at least, until NSU sees fit to reopen its pool along with a different can of worms.