Sunday, October 14, 2007

Not This Lifeguard!

This blawg originally started as a commentary on lawyers and the law. Unfortunately, I am neither smart enough, nor interested enough in the law to stick to the plan. Instead, it became a commentary on life, politics, and the general stupidity of humankind.

I have commented on the Sox, the Yankees, the state of American politics, and things that struck me as funny. Until this very moment in time, when I read about a Maryland jury awarding four million one hundred fifty two ($4,000,152.00) dollars to the parents of Connor Freed, a six year old who drowned at a country club on June 22, 2006.

This was interesting to me for several reasons.

First, it places a value on a six year old. Two million seventy six ($2,000,076.00) dollars per parent. That means, with my two kids, I am sitting on four million ($4,000,000.00) dollars.

Second, it raises questions about the training of lifeguards. I note that in my early years, I both worked as a lifeguard, and trained lifeguards. I worked them over, forcing them to perform extreme feats of strength and swimming ability, like recovering a fifty pound weight from the bottom of a pool, of rescuing fighting victims, and swimming a hundred (100m) metres with a heavy rubber brick. I failed people for failing to make three consecutive rescues, and I would routinely climb on the heads of my students as they were treading water. I did this because a drowning man (or woman) is insane with the will to survive.

And, when asked why I did this, I said that I thought that "...lawyers were scum and I didn't want to get sued for their failures." (I said this in 1984.)

I failed a young woman who was otherwise perfect in her skills because she could not get me to the side when I started fighting her attempts to rescue me. I tortured my students, providing realistic scenarios to test their mettle.

This should be the norm for lifeguards. Obviously, it is not.

As an aside, when asked how many rescues I made, I answered, "Two."

Not because I didn't work at busy pools and waterfronts; but, because I was a superlative lifeguard. I also note that the two rescues that I made were men who outweighed me by a cool hundred pounds.

The first, a man who could not swim, went off of the three (3m) metre board to impress a girl. I saved him, then asked him why he was going off of the board. He said, with a straight face, that he "...was trying to impress a girl." (Note to everyone: girls are never impressed by drowning.) The second, a man who could swim a little, was caught in a rip current, and was trying to swim against it. I got him, controlled him, and took him down the beach to a point where he could stand up and walk to dry land. He had panicked, and I calmed him, saved him.

Finally, I note that lawyers are always quick to cast blame on the guard, and not the family friend, who should have been watching the child.

People assume that, because there is a lifeguard, their responsibility for their child (or the children in their care) is absolved. This is not the case.

If a child is swimming in a pool, an adult should be watching. The fact that young Connor's adult friend was not is the real crime. And, yet, he was not hit by the jury because he was a) representing himself, and b) because he did not have the deep pockets of DRD Pool Service, Inc.

I am not saying that there was no negligence on the part of DRD. I am saying that when children are swimming, adults (other than lifeguards) have some responsibility, too. In fact, they have the greater responsibility.

So, when contemplating this result, let us consider the following:

1) Lawyers are scum;

2) Parents are always responsible for their children; and,

3) Not every lifeguard is as good as The Lifeguard.

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