The Life of an Ocean City Lifeguard
Deep down inside, most of us probably wanted to be a lifeguard, at some point. These guys (and gals) - live the dream! ... or do they?
In this article ... inspired (mostly) by my own personal curiosity ... I get to the bottom of how great it REALLY is to be a lifeguard.
I interviewed Ocean City Lifeguard Jon Howell (9th street beach) for this article.
The Basic Set-Up
"We have to be at Headquarters at 9:30 … on the beach by 10:00am. We set-up flags (that people seem to ignore), pull the boat down to the water, carry the stand down to the water, and hang the orange Rescue “Cans” on the stand … by 10:00am. No sand on the boat or the stand … we have to keep it clean and looking good."
"10:00 to 11:00 is the best time. The beach is still quiet and we get to workout. We can take the boat out and get some exercise … or we can exercise (or relax) near the stand. Other than that … it’s pretty much – what you see is what you get.”
Stuff You'd Never Know
Blogger: “What are some of the stupid things you have to deal with?”
Jon: (with a wry smile) “You wouldn’t believe it …. Let me think … OK, the questions … it has to be the questions. Millions of them … all the time … they never stop and sometimes they are just … well …. I think people leave their brains at home."
Blogger: “Like what? Give me specifics”
Jon: “What time do the dolphins come by today?”
Jon: “Why did they put sand on the beach instead of concrete?”
Blogger: “What?!?! Put sand? … seriously?
Jon: “Um hmm” – as he nods ... we PUT it there".
Jon: “What's the weather report? When's high tide? How do I get rid of the seagulls? What's the water temperature? ... I mean it's all understandable ... but I'm a lifeguard not a weatherman. It just gets old after the hundredth person asks. "
Blogger: “Maybe you should hang a chalkboard with the answers to these things off the back of the stand?"
Jon: “hmmm, maybe".
Blogger: “1 More?"
Jon: “How do we make waves?"
Jon: “Well, they probably mean, how does Ocean City make waves ... to attract tourists ... because that is EXACTLY what we do, you know ... make waves for the people to come here."
Blogger: “I don't believe you. ... how do you answer that?"
Jon: “When you catch me in the right mood ... I'll go into the whole tide thing, talk about the effect of the moon on the tides ... the wind ... the slope of the ocean floor ... I really lay it on thick ... really, I just make it all up ... I kind of remember some of this stuff from science class ... they seem to be satisfied." :-)
Get Off the Rocks
"Yah, so whistling people to get off the rocks all day gets old too. They're always pushing the limits. Some of these people literally hold onto the sign telling then NOT to be on the rocks, as they're climbing up ... then, when I whistle them down ... they act like they don't know they're not supposed to be up there, even though the sign is 8 inches from their head. It just gets annoying."
It's for their own safety. I've seen some pretty bad spills. The rocks get really slippery - and they're dangerous.
"It's hard to say how many lives we 'save' ... we get involved way before it gets to that stage ... but we do help a lot of people who are getting into trouble. Our beach is VERY busy ... so we're in the water alot. There are 3 of us in this stand and we are each in the water 10 or 15 times a day sometimes. With the jetty's and pipes ... we stay busy.
Blogger: “How do you guys decide who is going into the water? Do you kind of take turns? "
Jon: “Rock, Paper, Scissors"
Blogger: <waiting for him to tell me he's kidding>
Blogger: <so far, he doesn't seem to be kidding >
Blogger: <oh my gosh, he's serious >
Jon: “Usually, we can see it BEFORE it's a problem, so we have time to 'shoot it out' ... obviously, if it's an emergency ... we sit and stare at each other to see who will 'blink' first and go ... just kidding, we all fly out of the stand if we need to."
Blogger: “There is this 'sense' out there that lifeguards get all the girls flocking to them ... is this true? "
Jon: “Girls 'flock' because we are the shepherds … we tend to our ‘herd’ … as a good shepherd ... we make sure all their needs are taken care of and they are happy … day and night”.
Blogger: “Do you seriously want me to write that?"
Jon: “I am a shepherd"
Blogger: “You are insane".
Jon: “That is my answer".
View the full Directory of Shepherds (lifeguards)