When I left Lyon and my teaching job in July 2013, I had no idea I would end up as a Pool Boy a year and a half later.
It’s not my full job title, of course. My full title is le gardiennage, which translates as warden, housekeeper, caretaker, or security guard depending on what dictionary you use. I’m all of those things and none of them, as the translation doesn’t tell the whole picture. Odd job maintenance man is better, or as I prefer, general lackey with pool duties. (I just like the word lackey for some reason.)
I fix things, check things, attend to things, cook, garden, paint, and clean. (The Pool being one of my duties.) I’m like a housewife and househusband all rolled into one. Except there are no children to look after. Just a few dogs that run into the garden from the beach and have to be chased off with a big stick. Or tempted off the premises with strips of chorizo that I lay like a paper trail leading into next door’s garden.
My role of night time security guard however is somewhat diminished on the count that I can sleep nine hours straight without waking due to the ear plugs I wear that were designed for personnel involved in atomic bomb testing in the 1950s. Or so it says on the packet. One night I thought there was a fire, but realised it was just a dream, so I went back to sleep and acted out my duties as security guard/fireman from the comfort of my bed.
Joking aside though, this was all part of my grand plan when I left Lyon. I wanted a non-teaching job in France. I wanted to find a job in which I could use all of the skills I’ve acquired from the 50 or so jobs I’ve had since leaving school. Bit of cooking, bit of labour, bit of building, bit of gardening, bit of maintenance, bit of electrics, bit of carpentry, bit of bullshit, bit of everything. With a free cottage thrown in by the sea if possible. Why not?
It’s taken me a while to find it and I’ve blown most of my money looking for it. Plus, it’s only until May. But the most important thing is for me is that I’ve done what I set out to do. And when people ask me, ‘What makes you happy, Oggers?’ That’s what I say. Even if it’s cleaning swimming pools.