Coming from a background in life guarding, I have a deep, deep love for summer rainstorms, particularly the ones that drum up a little thunder action. The best possible time for these bursts to occur is between 2:30pm and 4:00pm. They need to last at least half an hour to convince those twelve year-olds with no patience to ditch the pool instead of attempting to wait out the storm. The more menacing the clouds, the better. Visible lightening strikes enhance the storm’s ability to drive the kids away. Each lightening strike adds thirty minutes to the “no swimming” clock… every thunder rumble adds twenty. At least, I think I’m remembering that correctly… these rules tend to change depending on who happens to be present at the pool during a storm.

If a member of the pool board is on location with their twitty children, you do whatever they say. They write your pay checks. Now, this is not really good lifeguard ethics. I believe fully in the killing power of electricity combined with large masses of water. Not a good combo. In my lifeguard classes, we were told horror stories of lightening that struck a pool and broke all of the cement surrounding the pool, leaving the deck looking remarkably like the set of a Will Smith disaster movie. Of course this may have been an urban legend of sorts… I can’t say either way.

There was an occasion of a late afternoon thunder shower where I flatly refused to watch the pool after a board member insisted that there was no danger from the “heat lightening” and all of the fifty kids at the pool could get back in and risk their lives for a little fun. I, as the professional in charge of these lives, said “Nope. Not on my watch.”

I left the very sweet and eager to please manager to take over my shift on the stand since she was the one who agreed to let the kids back in the pool. But of course, I sat in a chair and did my duties all the same… I mean, it wasn’t the kids’ faults! And I’d prefer for them not to drown while they were dodging lightening bolts. But I resented the heck out of that board member for compromising my ethics and putting us all in imminent danger.

I maintain that this was a stupid thing to do, though everyone made it through the evening unscathed. I lifeguarded for four summers and never once saw a bolt of lightening strike a pool… but still. Fortunately, most afternoons, the pool board members were still at their jobs and their twitty kids were under my care. And I was boss. ::::two short tweets with the whistle:::: “Everybody Out! Lightening!”

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