Every teenager has been bugged by their parents to get a job. My choice of poison was to get a job as a lifeguard at the pool where I grew up. Through the years I have become the stereotypical lifeguard. Yes, I do have that awkward tan line that for some reason I can never get rid of. Anyone who has ever been a summer lifeguard will recognize how real this list is.
1. Yelling "Walk!" when out in public.
We have all been there — in a crowded mall or at the beach with friends — then, out of the corner of your eye you see a small child running and you yellm “WALK!” You immediately realize how weird you look and that everyone is staring at you. You quickly apologize and put your head down in shame realizing how much of an instinct yelling at children has become to you.
2. Checking the weather religiously.
To most people a beautiful day during the summer is the best thing on the face of the planet. For lifeguards we do rain dances and pray to the thunder gods for a reason to get all the patrons out of the pool for 30 minutes so you can have an extra break (because sitting in a chair all day is hard enough). You have the most reliable weather app on the market so you can predict down to the second when the thunder will start.
3. You say you are getting a “big girl/boy job” constantly.
Everyone hopes that lifeguarding is a temporary position and that one day they will get an internship or another job where the description does not include cleaning bathrooms and being a glorified babysitter. For my future job, I will make sure that air conditioning is in my contract.
4. Wearing chlorine as your perfume/cologne.
“What is that you’re wearing? Chanel No. 5? Polo?”
“Oh no, it’s a la chlorine.”
Don’t be fooled by the stench 10 feet away; we did not walk through a wall of some overpowering body spray. We lifeguards will smell constantly like chlorine throughout the entire summer.
5. That weird tan line.
Gentlemen, please don’t be scared away by the big tan circle on our backs and our pale stomachs, we just don’t get out in the sun much with anything other than a lifeguard bathing suit on. Even if you constantly tan outside of work there is no way to get rid of that faint lifeguard tan line.
5. Spending half of your paycheck on sunscreen.
I was blessed with a lot of great traits from my Irish and German heritage. I have nothing but love for my blue eyes and freckles. On the other hand, my pale skin is not helpful. If you are anything like I am, with a thousand freckles all over your body, you know how much sunscreen you have to slather on all day. I laugh in the face of the recommended “reapply every 90 minutes.” Every time you have a chance reapply sunscreen. You even find special sunscreens that give you that “extra protection” to put on your nose.
6. Your coworkers are the only other people that understand the struggle.
Yes, you can complain to your friends, family or significant other about how that group of teenagers who would not listen to you made you aggravated to the point of no return. They will listen sympathetically, but they won’t understand the rage that went through your body. Only your fellow lifeguards can sympathize and swap stories about other patrons where the alarm of the whistle wasn’t enough for some people to follow the rules.
7. Despite this list you still secretly love your job.
I know all of us complain about how “tough” our job is but when it comes down to it we have a good gig going. We get to work in a situation that means we get hot we can hop into a pool and instantly cool off if we get too hot. None of my friends have coworkers as interesting as mine. Personally I have great coworkers and bosses. Also, having lifeguarding on a resume really boosts you up against the other kid who worked as a cashier during the summer.