“I want your job”, and “To work where others go on holiday” – these are typical sentences that Alina Roeder hears when she tells others about her job at TÜV Rheinland. She is a mystery checker in the Systems division. This means that she and her colleagues certify hotels, swimming pools or stadiums with regard to management systems, like the ISO 9001 standard for quality management.
Dream job mystery checker
This means exactly what most of us would call a dream job: visiting swimming pools and hotels, testing everything thoroughly and getting paid for it. Which sounds like a lot of fun, but is an important and very serious job. Inspectors like Alina Roeder make sure that we can all enjoy carefree bathing fun in the outdoor pool or spend a nice holiday. Our safety comes first.
As a tester in the outdoor pool
I was allowed to accompany Alina during her Mystery Check into the open-air swimming pools in Cologne and the surrounding area and experience what you have to watch out for during the tests.
Why Mystery Check?
Mystery Check is the name because the operators of the swimming pools don’t know anything about our visit. So we don’t appear in TÜV Rheinland clothes, but enter the outdoor pool as normal bathers – we pay admission and lie down in a bikini on the sunbathing lawn. So we are moving “undercover”. And that’s not that easy.
Please be low-key!
The majority of the examination is pure observation. First, we note down the general impression. How well is the swimming pool signposted and are there enough parking spaces? Then we continue to the entrance. Here we check, for example, whether it is barrier-free and whether the data protection principles are adhered to, as video surveillance is usually carried out in the bathroom. We also examine the pool, escape routes, fire prevention and the slide. Is the structural condition in order? Is the bottom of the pool visible? Are there centrally located fire extinguishers?
That’s by no means everything – from changing cubicles to additional facilities such as beach volleyball fields, everything is examined closely and noted down in a checklist. A photo documentation additionally records the most important observations.
This is not so easy, taking pictures of everything as an inconspicuous bathing guest – from the abandoned French fries fork on the lawn to the power cable of the sausage trolley. “So far I was only once pointed out by a bathing guest to the photography ban. “I don’t attract any attention at all during most of the checks,” Alina tells me in conversation, while I keep looking around to see if nobody really notices us. I notice immediately that she is an expert.
The Currywurst Test
Finally, the supposed highlight: the currywurst test. Of course, the catering area in the swimming pool will also be tested. Alina orders a Currywurst (sausage with a curry sauce) with French fries in each bath so that the outdoor pools can all be easily compared. “How ingenious”, most of you are probably thinking now – I can assure you, however, that you will soon lose your appetite for Currywurst if you have to test three baths a day and therefore try it three times with French fries. Although the taste of the food also plays a role in the comparison of outdoor pools, it is much more important whether it meets the hygienic requirements. Alina uses a thermometer to test whether fries and bratwurst are hot enough.
Together with a visual inspection of the kitchen and its conditions, it can be seen whether the food is freshly prepared – or whether it has been lying on the hot plate for two hours and only hot curry sauce has been poured over it. The thermometer doesn’t lie. After the outdoor swimming pool test, Alina is now definitely an expert on curry sauces. She tastes immediately whether it is ketchup or a homemade sauce. After my little one-day long internship I can verify: Alina has a really cool job.
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