So I take Nathan and his friend Dylan who are always up for lifting heavy things and going to boring places like pool stores, and I take Lilly who is 10 and can't be left home alone (much), and we go to the pool store.
There are two dudes in there, one sort of fattish one and one sorta blackish one. There is also a pool basketball hoop and no one else in the store.
The dudes take the filter to the back, and Nathan and I follow while Lilly and Dylan immediately begin to ravage the store with a cutthroat game of display centered basketball.
"Oh here's your problem right here," the fattish one says, pointing out what looks like a rip in the filter. We touch it with fingers and the rip turns out to be just some pool dirt. He keeps looking, turning the filter over. "Oh, this is loose," he says, showing where a part of the filter may or may not have come out of alignment. He starts getting a wrench to loosen the one bolt on the filter, to fix this problem.
Nathan and I have been to this pool store before, a year ago, where a girl took apart the filter, brought out new panels that it needed, and then for an HOUR could not for the LIFE of her figure out how to put it back together.
Nathan looked over at me as they two dudes took the long bolt out of the filter, and began taking all the panels apart, peeling it apart like a giant artichoke Chinese puzzle.
At this point, a flash of panic is rising in both Nathan and I. And because Nathan is 17 and doesn't care that much about panic, and because I have decided not to jump in and direct and manage this oncoming disaster, we both decide to just see what these guys can do. Maybe it ISN'T going to end like the last time we were here, with that girl.
I sit down on a few giant white sacks of diatomaceous earth, shockingly comfortable when you decide you aren't going to put out this fire. Giving up is so easy. Look, there's even a soft place to sit.
"Here's your problem right here," the guy points out, as a chunk of DE dirt plops onto the ground as they take another leaf of panel off. Nope, I'm thinking. That's just dirt. But the clump is reassuringly large. Hey man. Maybe they know what they're talking about.
The guys take all the panels off. Now the filter is completely taken apart. It did resemble a complicated, cylindrical flower. Now its petals are all these curvy rectangles, strewn around on the floor haphazardly, disorganized, in a situation Nathan and I know too well. Getting the flower reassembled, bro, this is a bitch.
They examine every panel. There are no rips or tears. There is no broken stem, as they say. Good news, since this filter cost about $400 to fix last summer. It should last, and apparently it has.
Now the good boys of the pool store have decided it's time to put the thing back together.
Nathan wanders over standing exactly like he used to stand as a 2 year old, and stare at inept people. His arms limp at his sides, his chin out, silent. People working are interesting to Nathan. Except now, at 17, he knows something. He knows they're idiots.
I still do not move from my pile of DE. I hear the other two kids throwing the basketball and screaming happily. I wait for them to break something. The guys have put the panels back on and are wrestling it like an 80 pound trout to get the bolt back on. They have put it together wrong. They take it apart again.
Nathan and I watch. They put it together again. They turn it upside down. They take parts off. They put it on a table. They can't get it to line up. The flower petals seem longer. Why isn't this working. I sense the basketball game is becoming sweaty and on the verge of disintegrating. That feeling I'd get when my kids were toddlers and the ultimate breakdown was coming after 20 minutes of perfect behavior. We're skating on the edge of everything ending badly. I wait and wait some more. Then the time is up. Doing nothing has not worked. It has just stolen time, I've done death row at the pool store. Not doing everything yourself? It's amusing, but it isn't worth it.
Nathan and I quietly step in to right this filter ballet, mangled by morons. We glide in, pool mentors, with hands brave and uncomplicated by matching khaki pants that must be where the brain stopped functioning with the two dudes. They LOOK like professionals. They have the PANTS.
Nathan and I quietly take apart the filter they have assembled wrongly. Nathan finds a video on youtube. A video of someone else who also can't put together his filter. We know the pool, and the filter. It is in our blood. We slowly put the panels back on, fitting them into the holes, and the gaps. We feather the panels straight. We fumble slightly, but then we're back on track, just like the Jamaican Olympic Bobsled Team. We fit on the little top, which also has to be weaved carefully with the panel tops. Everything in its little grooves. We put the bolt back in, and Nathan tips the whole filter carefully so we can line it up with the bottom cap. The blackish guy is a believer, and he has an open mind. He helps. The other guy, he just stands helplessly, washed away in the pool store universe where he'd be best hands off, answering the phone.
Nathan is laying on the floor with the filter on his face, finishing tightening the bolt while the helpful guy holds the top.
"Now I see why they pay $100 to clean these out," the helpless dude says from off to the side, puffily.
I blink at him, from the floor of the store. You should be paying ME $100 bucks.
The sweaty basketballers come check to see if we can leave yet. Since it's been a long hour.
We are done. We heft the filter out the door, cheerfully thanking them.
At the car, Nathan and I heave it back in the backseat. Those guys were idiots, we grin.
We weren't sure we did it right. There seemed no other way to do it. I stuck the filter back in the tank at home. The filter works great now. The pool is clear.
Next year, I know what the problem is.