Just so you know, I agree, it does look lovely in the pictures. Just best not to think about the sights and sounds of fellow swimmers coughing up copious amounts of deeply lodged phlegm into the pool when you are swimming in it. Also, best not to breath. Otherwise you will take in traffic fumes and cooking fire smoke from the surrounding streets, but you do sort of get desensitized to most aspects over time, and I tell myself that as we are swimming in super-concentrated chlorine you are probably OK as long as you do your best to avoid actually swallowing other people’s ejected bodily fluids. All about taking sensible precautions and some degree of personal responsibility for your health. Turns out, same thing applies to personal security too. You have to be a bit flexible at times…
I’ll hold my hands up and admit it. Initially I thought security at the Phnom Penh Sports Club was a bit slack. But turns out, I just wasn’t thinking laterally enough. What I see as a security lapse is actually a very sensible precaution for solving problems before they arise.
What happened was this. One day, after I came out of the pool and returned to the lockers, I went to open what I thought was my locker, using the little key on its (filthy) twirly plastic strap that was, I assumed, unique to my padlock. Naturally, the padlock securing the locker opened effortlessly, as indeed you might reasonably expect… except that it was to reveal a locker full of personal belongings that were manifestly not mine! I did a double take, and then remembered I’d used a different locker than usual, but habit took me to the old one. Eek. It wasn’t so much the inadvertant opening of it that was the problem, it was the having to secure it again, and then try lots of other lockers before I was successfully reunited with my stuff. This was horribly reminiscent of the time I accidentally moved some 6 foot papier mâché hyacinths and assorted cardboard boxes into the hallway of the wrong house whilst helping a friend move. You can explain accidentally taking stuff into premises, but being caught lugging it out again is a different matter altogether. The weird thing about that occasion, was that I could hear people moving around in the property the whole time, but no-one came to investigate what I was up to, most bizarre. Anyway, back to Phnom Penh Sports Club. The point is, whilst I was glad to eventually locate my stuff, I did question how secure the lockers were if one key essentially can access all areas. I related this amusing anecdote to my gym buddy later, and speculated that maybe in future I should bring my own combination padlock down to the gym with me if I wanted to keep my stuff safe. Of course I never have, it would be sensible, but like many good ideas, it just seems too much of an effort to remember at 6.00 a.m. in the morning. Anyway, turns out, that what we silly westerners consider an hilarious oversight is actually a very good idea indeed. Let me explain, but first a commercial break to show off this bird’s nest grape juice product. Hmmm, tempting? Nope, no idea.
So what happened today, was even more peculiar. My gym buddy had left his locker unlocked whilst he nipped into a cubicle to change following using the pool. When he emerged, problem. His locker, containing all his stuff, was now padlocked. Er, what happened there? Not to worry, he remembered what I’d said about the padlocks in the women’s changing area all seemingly having the same key, and just scouted around in the men’s changing area until he found a similar looking padlock, gave it a go, and voila, was able to retrieve his stuff! Result. It remains somewhat puzzling why someone locked his things away, but I wonder if someone inadvertently locked it thinking it was their own locker. Also mysterious, is why nobody batted an eyelid as he tried multiple keys to access the locker (the first attempt not being succesful) clearly this is not a security conscious (or maybe not a challenging) sort of society. Anyway, one mystery is now solved. What we see as an oversight in security is apparently eminently sensible. If all the padlocks had a unique key, how on earth are you to retrieve your things in the event that someone padlocks your locker and wonders off with it. What about if you lost your key even? This way, you can always be sure of retrieving things in case of need, irrespective of whether or not you have a key that matches the locker in question. It is a sort of genius. An alternative version of facts if you will. Not at all a cause for concern. How reassuring.