Good morning MCC
This last week left me feeling as helpless and flailing as one of the swimmers it’s my job to rescue.
We call them distressed swimmers. Seldom does a lifeguard charge into the deluge, dive deep to scoop a motionless body and perform CPR mid a ring of breathless bystanders.
No, most victims are capable swimmers who simply push a tick too far. They aren’t drowning, an occasional overhand or arrhythmic kick keep noses just above the surface. But the aren’t making much progress and scant energies are waning too fast. Its an easy save, just toss them a rescue tube and tow them back to the wall.
I haven’t worked at the pool – there’s no relief guard this late in the season – since last Tuesday, when Jenn met me at the car when I got home.
‘My cervical cancer is back, but Dr. Chris can just do a procedure in two weeks and I’ll be fine.’
She said it in one mouthful, breaking the news and ending discussion in a single gulp of oxygen. I was speechless for a few seconds; my wife walked away, back to her truffle patch.
It was like I breathed a gulp of pool water. For a week, I’ve coughed and sputtered, made vain attempts to carry on, made no forward progress.
But this morning, I float.
Back at my piddling pool job. When we swam the Jordan Channel that summer for Boy Scouts, the guard said to dead-man’s float if we got too tired and were in trouble.
‘Roll on your back, take a deep breath and old it,’ he said. ‘Your lungs work just like an innertube. You can float on them to rest.’
It doesn’t pay real well, and I hardly get enough hours to help if it did. But I can float here; there’s a paycheck and four hours of daily distraction, plus all the sunlight I care to soak up (don’t they say the Vitamin D helps your mood?).
Mrs. Scott, a youngster at 71, finishes her 10 laps. Her breath is deep but steady.
I say good morning, how are you, but too early. Mrs. Scott’s still pulling up her swim cap and digging wax seals from her ears.
‘We’re happy to have you back,’ she says.
Mrs. Scott, Mrs. Schram, Doocey and Miss beverly: They keep me working here as much as the paycheck does. These ladies are determined to stay in shape. The pool is the most pleasant way; they’d be here to swim whether anyone guarded them or not.
Not a one under 70, they’ve been known to clamber over the fence on days no one unlocked the gates. But you can’t count the ways something could go wrong as the sweet ladies go about their workouts. They know it, and when the alarm bleats out at 4:30 in the morning, the consequences of my absence pry open my eyes.
Its getting cool in the morning now. They’ll soon start swimming indoors at the Y. No difference really; there’s an early guard on duty there.
‘I’m going to miss seeing you when I start swimming at the Y,’ Mrs. Scott said.
‘You have a great day,’ I said, wrapping the strap tightly around my rescue tube. ‘We’ll see you here tomorrow.’