Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mayhem and madness at the Orland Park pool

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Our first real super hot day of the summer, over 90 degrees and came close to 100. Or so they said. Regardless, it sure felt like it. And it sure felt even better to have a membership at the Orland Park Centennial Pool.

Members get in at 11 am, and it was already steaming and humid. And guests don't get in until noon. So, when we got there early Sunday, we were able to easily find some lawn chairs and stake out a nice spot in the sun, partially covered by an umbrella.

The OPCP is one of the best. It has two large pools, many slides and diving boards and a lazy river that is very cool. It has a grassy knoll that surrounds the north end of the pool complex so there is extra space to stretch out and enjoy the sun. The food -- pizza mostly -- isn't bad. And the place is always clean.

But when it's pushing 100 and it's the first real hot summer day of the summer, you know that place is going to be packed like a sardine can. And by 1 pm the place was crammed. And I mean crammed.

The biggest problem, of course, is when non-resident non-members come in after paying (I think it is $12 a person) to get in and they can't find chairs to sit, they get upset. They start roaming the pool like wolf packs, prowling for unsuspecting chairs. Literally, people would stand next to a chair that had a towel and book on it, and if no one was looking, they'd nudge the towel and book on the pool deck and then lift the chair and walk it across to the other side.

It was brutal. Cutthroat. People were eying chairs like they were naked super models. You could not leave your cluster alone without seeing a chair disappear. And I must have had 100 people come up to me while I protected the chair for the wife and one for my son, and ask, "Is that chair taken."

"No, people in Orland Park are so rich they buy towels and then throw them away when they're finished. Why wash them? Just toss them."

Of course, that's what I wanted to say, but most of the time the people asking couldn't speak very good English anyway. I didn't realize we had such a large community of foreign language speakers. So I would say, "Yes, they are taken."

They'd turn and go to the next person and it went on and on all day. if you started to get up as a family. If Alison and Aaron and I got up at the same time, we would be surrounded by tag teams ready to fight for the chairs.

Sorry folks. If it were up to me, I'd charge an entrance fee based on the temperature. The warmer it is, the most costly. For $150 a year, why not just buy a membership fee and not hassle with all the problems.

But people come from as far as Chicago, Mokena, New Lenox, Oak Lawn and Joliet to enjoy the Orland Park Centennial Pool. I can't blame them.

But it's a dog-eat-dog world out there.

-- Ray Hanania

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