When I get out of high school, I am going pro in lifeguarding.
I know what you’re thinking: “Mac, that’s ridiculous. Lifeguarding is an entry level summer job for former pool rats who turned 16 and realized that they could make money doing what they did for every summer of their young life.”
And yes, you are right. I fit the aforementioned description. During my summer job search two springs ago, I found it hard to select an occupation in which I could positively impact the world. Then one day, after a riveting episode of Baywatch, I had an epiphany. I could get paid for what those C-list stars do on television. And if I’m really good, like David Hasselhoff, I could do it well into my mid-forties.
In fact, I plan on lifeguarding until I’m old enough to collect social security. Here are a few reasons why guarding into my golden years is reasonable.
1. Lifeguarding is easy — Once you clear a hurdle called American Red Cross Lifeguard Certification class, the job itself is a breeze (Hint for passing the class — know how to swim.) If you can stand 107 degree heat indexes, annoying nine-year-olds who think you will save them if they fake drown and scrubbing the grimy tiles of the men’s bathroom until your manager sees fit, you can guard. The food is free, the sunglasses are cheap and the sun is perpetual, at least until it explodes in a solar system-enveloping supernova in 4 billion years.
2. Lifeguarding is not emotionally taxing — Unlike a normal office-oriented job, lifeguarding leaves you feeling great when you roll into the garage after a long day of “work.” The normal stresses of a career, like Powerpoint presentations in front of sleeping coworkers and awkward golf outings with an intimidating boss, are not involved in lifeguarding. Unfortunately, you may not get weekends off. The only reason lifeguarding could be psychologically harmful is if you were to screw up a save. A professional like my future self would never let that happen. Just remember to keep an eye on the kid attempting his seventh consecutive belly-flop off the high board.
3. Lifeguards get yearly wage increases — Last year, my first year as a guard, I started out at a lowly $7.15 an hour. This year I was promoted to $7.35 an hour. Now, let’s say I retire when I’m 75. According to my calculations, at a 20 cent raise each year, I will be making $18.95 an hour. Another benefit of going into pro lifeguarding — that was the last calculation I will ever have to do.
4. Lifeguarding is weather dependent — If you get a case of the Mondays, pray to the rain god. The fine print of that statement: I have learned not to abuse the great power of the rain god. In the past, his abuse has lead to my debit card balance zeroing out. And do not fret that lifeguarding is purely a “summer” job. You have a few options. You could either switch to a year-round indoor pool or follow the old people and migrate to a pool in the warm southern hemisphere. I plan to do the latter.
5. Lifeguarding is usually different every day — Contrary to popular belief, lifeguarding is not always a boring, menial job. Yes, every day I carefully apply SPF 70 Neutrogena sunscreen to the knob of my nose before heading out to the stand (If I’m feeling dangerous, I go with SPF 65). Yes, nearly every day I shout, “No running!” at a wide-eyed toddler sprinting across the hot concrete deck to get a Bomb Pop from Mommy. Yes, every day I twirl my whistle incessantly, attempting to set career highs for most whistle wraps in a one hour shift on the stand. And yes, some days are incredibly boring and menial. But every once in a while there is “that day.” It’s a day where an overweight father swan dives off the three-meter to impress his young son, fully aware of his chronic shoulder problem, and face plants so hard you nearly blow your whistle because you thought you heard thunder. Or the day where you enter the men’s restroom and a buck-naked member of America’s Greatest Generation is checking himself out in the full-body mirror.
Now that pro lifeguarding seems reasonable enough, the actual decision-making portion will begin to make more sense.
Exiting my schooling before college is no easy decision. But after a great deal of contemplation, I have determined it to be the correct conclusion. During the four years my college-bound cohorts are busy buffing up on their future professions, I will be getting on the job experience. Look at it as the perfect full-time paid internship.
Like the NBA, not just anyone can go pro straight out of high school to the guard stand. Kobe didn’t simply shoot hoops to successfully make the jump. He had enough natural hardcourt ability to slam dunk before he could walk.
Well, not every lifeguard wins the genetic lottery and has the ideal qualities of sunburn resistant skin, a core temperature of lower than 98.6 degrees and the lung capacity of a virtuoso tuba player. I will admit that my lung capacity is not up to par. But I’m doing 3 sets of 15 whistle burst reps every day during adult swim to improve.
Why do I try to progress every day? I aim to be in the Lifeguarding Hall of Fame by the time I finish my career at the ripe age of 75 years. I hope to be up there with the likes of Mr. Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson and Wendy Peffercorn from “The Sandlot.”
Longevity is another benefit of a lifeguard’s career. You can do it almost forever. Can Kobe play NBA basketball from his high school graduation until he is collecting social security? Jeez, I hope not.