I’m on vacation, walking along the beach at about 7:00 a.m.
Best time to be at the beach.
There isn’t a soul for miles. It’s just you, the salty air, and the beautiful views with no one to share it. It’s like getting extra credit from Mother Nature.
I walk past an unoccupied lifeguard chair. At first glance this seems like the perfect place to sit. Elevated height. No other seats around. It’s a laid back version of the Iron Throne. I can totally see why lifeguards would enjoy sitting in a place like this when not having to save lives.
You get to feel like a king. A king who probably makes $12 an hour, but a king nonetheless.
I climbed up to sit in it, but then I paused.
What are my responsibilities here?
What if someone actually needs help and looks towards the chair? Are they going to expect me to be able to save a life?
Because if you do, I’ve got some bad news: you’re going to be very disappointed in this fake lifeguard.
“Hey, sorry, no. That’s not me. I’m not even wearing the red shorts and carrying the buoy. Just an Under Armour shirt and some orange Tommy Hilfiger trunks. Even if I wanted to save you, I don’t have the uniform to do it. Okay? Hello? Oh shit, he drowned.”
I opted to keep walking. I don’t need that type of pressure. Not that I wouldn’t help someone in need, but I don’t want to be expected to do it.
There’s a world of difference between, “That random guy walking by couldn’t save Uncle Albert. At least he tried!” and “Hey that lifeguard whiffed on the mouth-to-mouth! Let’s sue him!”
The flip side to this scenario: what if sitting in the lifeguard chair is a Green Lantern’s ring type of situation? Where just sitting in the chair imbues me with the power to automatically become a lifeguard?
Gotta be honest: not sure I want that responsibility either.
Assuming this magic lifeguard’s chair gives me superhuman lifeguarding abilities, now I HAVE to save lives. It’s like Spider-Man, man. With great power comes great responsibility. I can’t go back to regular life, knowing somewhere out there at the Outer Banks of North Carolina there’s a kid about to get nabbed by the undertow.
Can you imagine the headlines? “Magic Lifeguard Decides to Let Beachgoers Drown for a 7th Consecutive Week.” “Is He Really Going to Wait Until Next Year’s Vacation To Save People Again?” “Another Shark Attack NOT Thwarted by Lifeguard Man.”
There’s a third possibility here. Let’s say I get the magic lifeguard ability. Let’s say I save some people that day, but then go back to my normal everyday life, not pulling people out of the ocean despite my freakish ability to do so at a heightened level. Then let’s say I come back next year for vacation. I’ll definitely feel a lot of pressure to save people then.
And that means I’ll spend my entire vacation just saving lives.
Worthy cause and all but c’mon…can’t a guy relax for a few days?
I come to the beach to unwind, not get thanked by tearful parents who stopped watching their idiot kids for ten minutes.
I’ll spend the entire week running up and down the beach. Probably some kid and some old lady tucked under either arm. I’m going up to people out of breath: “Are you drowning? No, just playing around? Okay well no horseplay. I don’t have a lot of time to waste here. What’s that over there? Is that a shark or is it riptide? Is anyone going to answer me? Oh, so you’re just going to ignore me until you need savin’. You know what, screw this, I’m going back to the lifeguard’s chair to see if sitting in it again will negate my earlier gain in powers.”
The ultimate lesson here: if you enjoy your vacation as it is, stay away from empty lifeguard chairs.