After finding the “right” swimming pool, the John C. Smith Swimming Center, I wandered in and spoke to the girl behind the counter. She reviewed fees and swim times in the Scottish lilt I am slowly becoming familiar with. What that means is that while I can generally hear all the words, my translating speed is not quite up to snuff. I am not yet thinking in Scottish.
She pointed out the locker room and let me know about the 50p fee for the use of the lockers. I handed her a one pound coin and she slid two heptagonal 50p coins back across the counter. This was progress.
I found the locker room alright but it was not what I’d expected to see, meaning it was different from my gym back in the States. There were changing rooms and lockers and some men standing in a shower and then there was the pool. I stood before the lockers with my funny coin in hand looking somewhat perplexed. The key was hanging from the keyhole tied to a wrist strap. An older gent must have noticed my confusion and approached with easy instructions about locker use.
“You op’m up the locker’n poot your coin’n the slot, take your key out’n’away ye go. When y’come back y’slip your key in’n bang it down’n you’ll git your coin back.”
I was so confused that I proceeded to undress on the spot. When an older woman walked past me in her bathing suit several thoughts popped into my head at once.
1. “What is she doing in here?”
2. “She must have made a mistake.”
3. “Boy, these Europeans are really liberal with their coed ‘toilets.’”
4. “When in Rome…”
5. “D’oh! That’s what the changing rooms are for!”
The “locker room” was not a room at all; it was merely a weigh station between the front door and the water. Everyone used it. Now it made sense that the men in the shower were still in their suits. Now it made sense that I could see the pool from the changing stations. Now it made sense that the men and women were using the same space. I was starting to catch on.
As it turned out I was at the pool at the wrong time for lap swimming. The pool was full of older people and none of them were “working out” in the traditional sense of the word.
When I got home I shared some of these amusing details of my morning adventure. I told John and Margaret about the “older people.”
“Aye, that’s when we swim. Those are the crumblies.”
I felt a little crumbly myself.