I smile and give the thumbs up to the kid at the top of the slide. It’s another hectic Saturday at the Community Center. The running children and loud whistles are enough to give me a migraine but as I sit in the lifeguard chair I paste on a smile and intensely watch my pool area. A little girl in a pink tutu bathing suit flies down the water slide. As she hits the water a few drops attack my dry red shirt. I look down at the girl and notice her head submerged under the water and her arms slapping the surface. SPLASH! Before I realize what I am doing I am in the water with the girl in my arms. As I climb out the girl’s mother rushes over to me yelling, telling me her daughter knows how to swim. I am dripping wet but my smile still says on.
I am shaking with the built up adrenaline in my system as I enter the office. As I walk in the other lifeguards on shift congratulate me on my first rescue and pat me on the back. I sit in the now silent office and think back to when I first started working at this job. Would I have been able to respond as quickly to the situation as I did? Would I have even responded at all?
“Corinne, we need to talk,” my boss had said almost six months before, when she pulled me to the side with a nervous look on her face. I took a seat on the cold metal bench. “You’re a nice girl but you need to be more focused on what you are doing and pay attention to your water,” she said. My eyes shifted back and forth, hanging on to the patrons and other lifeguards looking in my direction. The tears began to accumulate in my eyes with the thought that I could lose my job. After a long tense pause she said, “I’m going to give you another chance.” I sighed with relief but immediately felt queasy when she warned me that she would be watching me.
After the talk with my boss, I realized that it didn’t only look bad that I wasn’t paying attention but it may be dangerous as well. That was the turning point not only in my lifeguarding career but my entire life as well. I began to up show up early to shifts alert and focused. I took initiative in most situations I used to sit back on. I also focused my energy on being helpful and prayed that I was doing better. When the next in-service training came I was caught off guard and surprised to find I had been announced employee of the month. Receiving this award motivated me to work even harder. It was not soon after that I was asked to be a head lifeguard, this made me realize that I had not only turned around my bad habits but I was now trusted to make very important decisions for not only myself, but others as well.
Although I could declare that I have been self-motivated all throughout my job experience, that would not be true. I was not always good at my job. The skills and insights I have acquired from my job have affected so many aspects of my life. The experiences I have encountered at my job are what have not only made me a better lifeguard but a more responsible, mature person.