Saturday, February 09, 2008

Guard duty

Waiting. Watching.
Deerfield Beach, Florida, December 2007

Hundreds of people spread out haphazardly before him. Most are blissfully unaware of the basic risks of life at the edge of the ocean. Some can swim well, others can't, still others think they're better swimmers than they actually are. The latter group is always the most dangerous.

Waves relentlessly pound the sand while the sun bleaches the scene from above. Hour after tedious hour, he watches the ever-shifting scene, waiting for the trigger of activity that announces, awfully, that someone's in trouble. Not "I-was-stung-by-a-jellyfish" trouble, but drowning trouble. Missing trouble. Life-threatening trouble.

I stand to the side of his chair, watching him watch everyone else. I can almost feel the distant echoes of my first job as a lifeguard, remembering what it felt like the first time I had this kind of weight on my shoulders. I'd like to say thank you to this unsung hero for simply being there. But I don't want to disturb him. So I take this photo and quietly return to my family.

Your turn: The unsung heroes among us. Please discuss. Or sing, if you will.

11 comments: said...

Nice piece! Michelle sent me.
My son was a life guard for a few summers and enjoyed it. No significant saves, but I know that he felt he was doing something important.

gautami tripathy said...

Carmi, it feels good to be here after so long. I must thank Michele for it though.

You are right about that. We seldom give them a thought. You photograph the most amazing people.

kenju said...

I am one of those who can't swim well enough to save myself, so I rely on the eyes and strength of a lifeguard to take care of me. Mr. kenju had to pull me in a few times when my raft drifted too far away.

tommie said...

this scene very much reminds me of back in my teaching days before kids. Then I went on to have two kids in two years....more people (or more accurately ...kid watching) since then. Anytime things get too quiet...I know I should go investigate.

Maybe I was a lifeguard in a previous life!

happy weekend!

Anna said...

I could not be a lifeguard....I would have a panic attack being responsible for all those people!

Keith said...

Hi from Michele.
I know it is corny but my unsung heros would be my parents.

Bob-kat said...

If you think about it, there are unsung heros everywhere and most of us will never hear about what they do. Just think of the civil servants. These people work for their country and some of them are there becasue they wnat to help and make a difference depsite the red tape and lack of funding. I think anyone that makes a difference is an ansung hero.

Great pic as ever Carmi! That beach looks like a lovely place but as you say, it is the guard that makes it that much safer to play in the waves.

I know Michele has pointed you in the direction of my blog when you get chance. I think you might like the computer related haiku I have there at the moment!

PI said...

Beautiful photo Carmi and it catches the mood of your post - or is it vice versa?
The two ambulance staff - a man and a woman, who came within minutes, when my husband had an atrial fibrillation.
They were super efficient, reassured us with their humour, whisked us into hospital and he was beck home next day. God bless them.
Michele sends her best.

R. Sherman said...

One wonders whether he truly acknowledges the responsibility which comes with the appellation "Life Guard." Of all the occupations we have, truly such as him are worthy of our thoughts and prayers.


Finn said...

Unsung heroes? Parents, volunteers, people who stop to help you pick up things you dropped... there are all kinds of heroes.

On a more important note, I grew up on this beach! And still visit it, although not as frequently as I could.

Shephard said...

I like the composition of the lifeguard shot... how it shows he's up above the vast stretch of people who are blithely ignoring him. Thoughtful capture.

Michele sent me to catch up.