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Book of Jobs Part 1


by Chris Auman

Lifeguarding has always been viewed as being a very glamourous occupation. Case in point: Hasselfhoff. What could be better than spending your days relaxing in the sun, scoping out the girls in their bathing suits and just basically being a stud? I’ll admit, from about age eight to thirteen, I was a bona fide pool rat. I lived at the public pool. I was there all day every day and frequently went back at night. It was thee place to be in the summer time and with a season pass, paid for by the parents, that shit was free to a kid. You just rolled up your suit in a towel, fastened it under your banana seat with a bungie cord and then it was a mile (almost all down hill) to the Galena Public Pool at Recreation Park. The ride home after three hours of backflipping, high diving and acting the fool made that ride home (uphill) pretty taxing, but there was usually People’s Court on at four (with original gangster, Judge Wapner, swinging the gavel) and then Wink Martindale laid down a little thing he liked to call Tic Tac Dough. Can’t touch it.

water slide

During this time, I also spent my weekday mornings at the pool taking swimming lessons. My sister too. From fifth through eighth grades we spent every weekday morning in June learning how to swim. You wouldn’t think it would take that long, considering that I already knew how to swim to begin with, but that was the drill. I went from a Beginner Swimmer to Intermediate to Advanced to Lifeguard. We learned the American crawl, the Australian crawl, the backstroke, the breaststroke, the butterfly stroke, the side stroke, first aid, CPR, how to disrobe in water, how to rescue a struggling victim, all that stuff. In the morning in early June, when the the air was still a little bit nippy and the water was down right frigid, that’s what we did.

After putting in all those hours, every summer, year after year, when they built the new Alice T. Virtue Memorial Pool a quarter mile away from the now abandoned municipal pool (which was now looking downright ghetto in comparison), I figured it was time to make my training as a lifeguard pay out.

water slide

I wasn’t much of a physical specimen to behold. I was probably five foot one inch and weighed a hundred and five pounds soaking wet. I wouldn’t have been able to rescue Mitch “Baywatch” Buccanan’s bicep or one of CJ’s fake breasts to save my own life. But that was OK. I was a Walking Guard, kind of a backup to the seated gods and goddesses that looked down upon the pool waters from their glistening towers. As a Walking Guard (and not even that, but a Substitute Walking Guard) I patrolled the changing rooms, made sure people showered before entering the pool, told kids to “Walk! Don’t run!” over and over and over again, stood at the top of the water slide and said. “Go. OK go. OK go.” over and over to kids after the previous one had safely shot out the bottom end. I actually had to kick some girls out of the pool for repeatedly defying the one-at-time policy on the water slide. I had to signal to another guard at the bottom to give them the boot. I felt bad but there was a price to pay for not respecting my authority, as those young ladies found out.

water slide

Raking the sand and cleaning out the kiddie pool are the other duties I can remember performing in those two days that I was a Substitute Walking Guard at the Alice T. Virtue Memorial Pool at Recreation Park. I was never called back to sub again. Was this because they never needed another substitute guard the entire summer? Was I fired without being informed? Or was it because my five foot one, one hundred and five pound, fifteen-year-old physique was deemed too non-capable of saving any human over three feet tall? That seems the more likely scenario. I did put a band-aid on a kid’s knee during my brief career. I’m not saying that I saved this kid’s life but this basic medical procedure possibly staved off a life-threatening infection.

water slide

Oh well, this would not be the last time my four years of education in a particular field of study did not lead to gainful employment in said field.

Lawnmower Boy >>

Originally published in RW#22, 2014

RW #22


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