I just returned from a brief two day trip with my family. While I will be getting caught up with the discussions in the next couple days I thought I would offer a little reflection based on my experience at the hotel’s waterpark. Over our two day stay my daughter and I visited the waterpark four times for a total of approximately 6 1/2 hours of swim time. So you might say I got to know the premises rather well. I especially got to know the signage since, old man that I am, I spent the better part of my time moving between the hot tub and sauna and reading the various posted regulations.
“Don’t run on the pool deck.”
“No outdoor shoes on the pool deck.”
“No people under sixteen in the hot tub.”
“Do not slide in pairs.”
“Do not slide on your knees.”
“Do not stay in the sauna for more than fifteen minutes.”
“Always shower before entering the pool.”
“Please leave your towels at the attendant’s desk.
Over my six 1/2 hours spent lolling around the hot tub and sauna I saw every one of those rules being broken, indeed being flouted with wanton abandon. I was especially irritated by the wearing of outdoor shoes on the pool deck, though I must add that I also had little patience for those who slid in pairs or on their knees.
But not all these violations brought a scowl to my face. I admit I had little concern for kids running on the pool deck or hanging out in the hot tub. Perhaps that is because my daughter was regularly found among this group of violators. As for the posted time limit in the sauna, I proudly say that I broke the thirty minute mark on two occasions while shaking my fist at the hotel management. And I emerged thoroughly refreshed. Perhaps that rule was made for all the shrinking violets that can’t hack the heat. But I love it. Death Valley here I come! As for leaving towels at the attendant’s desk, what are you kidding? That one really is unreasonable. Do they really expect us to roam through the hotel hallways in sopping swim suits?
I couldn’t deny it. I was indigant at the violation of every rule except the ones me n’ my kin group had decided to ignore. So that’s my first big lesson: we’re all hypocrites.
Now for a question: does this mean that meticulous rule and regulation following is always better? Not necessarily. Would you prefer to go to the sauna with your buddy if you knew he clocked his time with a stopwatch to ensure that the two of you were out by 15:00.00?
Finally, I’ll make one more observation. Arguably the most important rules for any waterpark were conspicuously absent. Among them are the following two:
“Please do not enter the pool if you have suffered from diarrhea within the last seven days.”
“Please do not enter the pool if you have an open wound.”
I don’t deny the importance of refraining from sliding on your knees. But can we all agree that the diarrhea regulation trumps it in importance? (Not that it would necessarily be observed. “Oh, shucks. Sorry guys, it looks like I can’t swim after all. I had a wicked bout of diarrhea last Thursday.”)
So here’s the triple whammy:
First, we are more or less hypocrites who observe the rules and regulations we choose to observe and rationalize our flouting of those we choose not to observe.
Second, the strict observance of every law and regulation does not necessarily make one a better person (“Hurry! We have five more seconds to evacuate the sauna!!”)
Third, our moral and legal systems are often terribly inadequate and tend to leave out some of the most important things while highlighting relative minutiae.