As you may know from previous articles, I’ve been working as a lifeguard for the past seven (million) years at the local recreation park. Last week I was working one of the hottest days of the summer when I made a glorious save. It was the type of save that you’d see in one of those horrible Red Cross training videos, an active drowning victim yelling help, limbs flailing and all. I flew out of the lifeguard stand and swam as fast as I could and then dragged the panicking kid to shore.
Now, after reading that you may think that I’m acting a little full of myself, but trust me, the excitement is completely justified. After I pull the kid from the water and sit him in the sand and start to assess him, other swimmers came over to me and thanked me for doing my job. Honestly, the appreciation was appreciated. It’s not too often that a lifeguard feels appreciated by the end of their shift. In all reality, I typically feel like a bag of sh*t because a select few patrons just think I’m a “teenager on a power trip” when I’m really just doing my job (and I’m not a teenager).
After the excitement winds down I realize that the child’s parents haven’t come over to their child yet. It was obvious that the child was too young to have gotten to the beach by himself or legally be at the beach by himself, so I knew they had to be there somewhere. I ask the child to point out his parents so I could go update them on the situation. He points to a family literally 10 feet behind us on the beach.
First off, if a lifeguard drags your child out of the water, I don’t know, maybe you should get out of your chair and approach your child and the lifeguard to make sure that your child is okay?
Since the child’s parents didn’t approach me, I had to approach them. I walk the boy over to his family, and before I even get to say anything to the parents they open their mouths and ask, “Why did you do that? You embarrassed him!”
I was dumbfounded. Are you kidding me? I embarrassed him? You know what’s worse than being embarrassed? Being dead, and that’s what your child would be if I didn’t make the save.
But of course, instead of saying or yelling the aforementioned, I updated them on the current condition of their child and suggested that he stay in the shallow end for the remainder of the day, and then I walked away. I’m used to not getting thanked for what I do as a lifeguard but this was a new one, a patron’s family legitimately upset with me that I saved their kid.
So, the next time you’re at a public swimming facility, send the lifeguard some positive vibes because they’ll appreciate it.