Views from the Stand
*I originally wrote this post as part of the Blogging from A to Z 2017 Challenge. Unfortunately, I dropped off in the middle of the month-long challenge. So, against my perfectionist nature, I’ve decided to go ahead and publish the posts I did get drafted, as I am proud of them, out of alphabetical order.
I was a lifeguard for six summers back in the day. My lifeguard training class was very competitive and awesome; I learned the perfect way to swim freestyle, thanks to our wonderfully hilarious and tough instructor, Cheri, may God rest her soul.
Being a lifeguard made my summers throughout high school and some of college and enabled me to have some of the best times ever, to meet people I never would have known otherwise, and to prance around the pool as I walked from stand to stand.
Not only were those summers a blast, I also learned a lot about leadership and responsibility. Not only was I one of the kids charged with ensuring pool safety, I was deemed head lifeguard at ‘my’ pool during my final two summers as a lifeguard.
After lifeguard training, where I learned all four of the primary swimming strokes – freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly – I joined our local swim team and found a new passion for swimming. I’d always loved to swim, but doing so competitively was a whole different ballgame.
One of the best parts of life guarding was sitting on the stand, overlooking my section of the pool and observing swimmers’ behaviors, especially those of adults. One incident that stands out in my mind is the time I was posted on the shallow end’s stand and happened to glance down at two women standing and talking in the water. Friendly warning – don’t piss in the pool! One of the ladies peed during her conversation and I literally saw the yellow cloud surrounding her! Trust me, I haven’t dared pee in a pool since then!
The most coveted lifeguard stands were located in the deep end, where there were two diving boards. I always loved watching cute boys do tricks off the boards and was even treated to some excellent belly busters! I remember forcing myself not to laugh, but to remember to remain calm and concerned.
One of the most horrible things to happen at the pool one summer occurred when half of our lifeguard staff got fired, leaving four guards for the last half of the summer – at an Olympic-sized pool. This meant that the four of us had to take hour long shifts on the stands, which is much more exhausting than it sounds – we all savored our breaks, when we could play! But, we lost breaks after the four moronic guys got caught smoking pot at the amphitheater directly behind the pool!
The pool is located in our local state park, meaning getting caught with drugs there is kind of a big deal. I’ll never forget spotting the asshole park ranger literally running at full speed – I figure he got a tip – toward the amphitheater during the puff fest to bust the ding dongs smoking out in the open – while on lifesaving duty. I will admit that I toyed with joining in on the smoking of their joint; luckily, I was on the stand and had zero choice in the matter.
Anyway, the guys were fired on the spot and probably got simple possession charges. The four of us guards remaining were not happy, to say the least, especially since we didn’t have substitute guards – some state worker BS – to fill in for the dumbasses. Unsurprisingly, I was grateful for the rest of that particular summer to go by; I spent my evenings exhausted and going to bed by 8:00 PM, probably because I was so hot and dehydrated from near-constant stand sitting.
Shockingly, throughout my six year tenure at the park pool, I never had to jump in to rescue any swimmers. I did, however, scream at perverts to get the hell out of MY pool – yes, I claimed ownership, in my own mind, of my beloved pool. I recall a particularly creepy creep, whom I spotted going under water immediately after young girls in bikinis would go off the diving board, probably hoping their tops would fly up, which they probably did, upon hitting the water.
So, I stopped everyone from jumping off the board and probably screamed there was a lurking pervert and I know I raised my shades and gave him a serious evil eye. The last straw came when he started going underwater and checking out my precious cousin’s butt – I went off! I realized he was carrying one half of a pair of goggles, so he could easily hide his eyepiece and spy at underage girls.
Anyway, I yelled for the nasty man to get over to my stand, yelled at the top of my lungs that he was perverted and made him give me the goggle piece he seemed to be so proud of. Not long after I embarrassed this jackass, he left and never returned, much to my satisfaction.
The main thing that irritated me about this particular pervert was the fact that none of the male lifeguards would make a move and confront the guy, which doubly pissed me off. So, I obviously took matters into my own hands, humiliated the fruitcake, and apparently intimidated him enough to keep him away from my pool for the rest of the time I was a guard.
In a nutshell, I adored my years of lifeguarding – I truly enjoyed some of the greatest summers of my life. I branched out of my shell, met all kinds of people, and gained so much confidence. But, I knew when I was ready to retire – after the most horrific summer of my life. That summer, way back in 2003, I lost my best friend to an accidental drug overdose, got zero sympathy from my fellow lifeguards – even though he died early one morning and I went to work in utter shock – and all my cute guy friends finally grew up and got summer jobs of their own, meaning I felt so alone the second part of that summer.
I remember one of my boy buddies asking me if I was ready to go back to college, four hours from home, that fall and I said, “Brian’s dead and I hate my job, so, yes.” I’ll never forget that – ever. I never dreamed I would grow to despise being at my pool, but I did. It was good timing to give up my lifeguarding career. I had seriously wished I could simply be a guard for the rest of my life.
But, now I look in the rear view mirror at some of the best memories ever, and, sadly, a few of the worst. Fortunately, the good definitely outweighs the bad when it comes to my lifeguarding experience and I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. The ultimate moral of the story: DON’T PISS IN THE POOL – LIFEGUARDS CAN LITERALLY SEE EVERYTHING, including the ring of bright yellow urine surrounding you! 😀