When the Public Employees Some People Think Aren't Necessary Save Your Family

"That boat's going to run over those people out there," I said to myself as I looked up from my drugstore paperback toward to the lifeboat zooming at breakneck speed through the rough surf of the Pacific. Or, at least I thought it was heading toward people. Whatever it was floating in the water was so far out, I couldn't quite make out what it was. A clump of seaweed? A shark sighting?

It turned out to be people. We'd had a rough surf and rip current advisory all weekend--which is why I declined to join my two sons and husband in the water. They'd been swimming and boogie boarding for a couple of hours while I'd chilled out reading.

I watched what I could see of the rescue for a few more minutes, and as I did, I couldn't help but think how glad I was that the lifeguards were so skilled. Sadly, lifeguards in some parts of California have been criticized for earning a decent salary, and some folks have acted like it should just be a job for high school and college students that need to earn a little extra cash. I don't mind paying a little more in taxes to make sure that someone is highly trained, experienced, and able to pull someone out of rough surf and save their life.

Little did I know as I strained my eyes to see what was going on that it was my family being rescued.

Indeed, ten minutes later husband and two sons returned to our spot on the beach and my husband immediately blurted out, "We almost drowned out there." I figured he was just being dramatic until he added, "Did you see us? We had to be rescued by life guards."

Good grief. 

He and my kids are good swimmers but once they got caught in the current, they just kept being sucked further away from the shore. No matter how hard they swam, they couldn't get away.

Mr. T, my 8-year-old daredevil, stalked off in the direction of our car, muttering to himself that the whole thing was embarrassing and everyone would think he was an amateur surfer/boogie boarder. He also announced that he's not coming back to the beach for a whole year. 

As for his brother, 11-year-old Mr. O promptly went into philosophizing mode, wondering what I'd do if they'd all died. "You'd be a childless widow, mom," he told me. Such a horrible question, right? I really knew O was still himself when he asked, "Since we almost died can you take us to In-N-Out?"

I did take them there and although they seemed shaken up, I figured they were OK until last night when Mr. O couldn't sleep. He was still wondering what I'd do if they'd all drowned. I had no answer for him--I still have no answer for him. It's hard for me to imagine such a horrible, tragic thing.

This would be an entirely different post I'd be writing if those life guards hadn't been there. Tonight at the DNC when Michelle Obama talked about being a Mom-in-Chief for her family, I thought about how close I came to no longer being the Mom-in-Chief for mine. When she talked about people knowing  they can make a difference at and afford to support their family, I thought about those life guards who saved my boys.

You never know what's going to happen to you and how your life can change in an instant. I'm just glad I won't, for now, have to find out what those changes might be.


Rosita said…
So glad that everyone was o-kay.

I am with you, I have no problem paying higher taxes if they actually go to providing public services (actually would be glad to do it) and not to finance more tax breaks for the rich.
Sholeh said…
Oh wow. Glad they are ok, but that is still frightening.
Unknown said…
So glad they are okay. Not even sure if I could wrap my brain around losing my guys. I do not think most folks think about the things public employees do for us and they are oh so very necessary.......
nick said…
God, that's scary, Liz. Lucky those lifeguards were there and so quickly to the rescue. Of course lifeguards should be properly trained and experienced and properly paid. Some people's meanness and stupidity is amazing. It just doesn't occur to them that some day they might need rescuing themselves, and not by bumbling untrained students.
Liz Dwyer said…
Every time I drive on LA's roads and my car rumbles over the potholes, I think about how much better off we'd be if we fully funded public services. Some of these potholes are more like mini sink holes!

Very frightening. We'll see if Mr. T keeps his word and swears off going to the beach for a year. Next week he'll probably be begging me to go back.

Scary thought, right? And so true, most folks just assume public services will always be there. They won't if we don't pay for them!

We're so conditioned to think "cheaper" instead of high quality. It bleeds over into life guard duty, sadly enough.

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