Dear Miriam | Hot Tub Usage Steams Up a Reader

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Dear Miriam,

Last summer, in order to have a COVID escape, I bought a vacation home in a condo complex. The social distancing policy of the complex dictated that everyone had to sign up for specific hours to use the pool and hot tub.

This summer, rules have been relaxed, and there are no sign-up times. As a result, it’s kind of a free-for-all, and there are a few loudmouths who spend hours every day in the hot tub spouting conspiracy theories and loudly talking politics. Is there anything I can do to get back some peaceful hot tub time without getting into an unwinnable political argument?


Poolside Politics

Dear Poolside,

What a disappointing way to experience your second COVID summer, especially since this summer was supposed to be different in positive ways, rather than the negativity you’re encountering. I have a few ideas for you, but I’ll start by saying that the ones where you change your behavior will, unfortunately, be more likely to be effective than the ones where you’re depending on other people to change theirs.

First, I would suggest seeing if you can find patterns to the hot tub-hoggers schedules. If they’re always there in the evenings, go in the morning. Sure, it’s not as refreshing, and maybe not as convenient, but what you lose in scheduling, you gain in quiet.

A slight escalation here would be to ask the people in question when they expect to leave/return, and to plan accordingly. It’s also worth noting that, regardless of the conversational tone of the other people around, given the legitimate concerns right now for the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, finding less crowded times to go to the pool is in your best interest anyway.

Another option is to go to the building’s management and request that last year’s sign-up policy be reinstated. You could cite concerns over social distancing and the delta variant, rather than the distasteful conversations you don’t want to overhear. But depending on the way the condo association is managed, you may have to go through other homeowners, including those you specifically don’t want to deal with, even to make the request. Given that you’re a newcomer, and those making decisions likely aren’t, this may be an unproductive path, unless you think you can get a number of people to speak up with you.

Here’s where it comes back to you. Invest in some waterproof headphones, and bring them to the hot tub with you. Connect to a podcast or music or just white noise while your phone is out of splashing distance, and tune these people out. If they try to engage you in their conversation, you can pretend you don’t hear them or smile politely and turn away.

You are absolutely right that any attempt to change their minds about the latest conspiracy theories will be fruitless and frustrating. However, you may be able to find your way to say something like, “Could you please hold off on this topic for 15 minutes while I enjoy the hot tub? I find this conversation too stressful when I’m trying to relax.” I don’t think that I would take this route, preferring instead to avoid conflict with those I know to have opposing viewpoints to my own, but it’s within the realm of reasonable.

Finally, if at any point, their rhetoric veers into hate speech or is in any way directed toward you in an offensive manner, you likely do have recourse to contact your homeowner’s association, as well as an even bigger motivation to try some of these other strategies to avoid them altogether.

Wishing you moments of peace and serenity and the chance to truly enjoy your hot tub, politics free.

Be well,



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