Saturday, February 09, 2008
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.