A Life-Guarded Sense Of Self

, , , , , | Working | February 12, 2018

(I am a seasonal surf lifesaver at a beach popular with tourists. I have just pulled a child, who was screaming and flailing about, out of deep water, and brought him on to the sand.)

Mother: “Oh, my goodness! How did that happen?”

Me: “You okay, buddy?”

Kid: “Yeah.”

Me: “What were you doing out that far?”

Kid: “I kind of just doggy paddled, then when I put my feet down there was no, like, bottom.”

Me: “Ah. Did you swallow any water?”

Kid: “Nah.”

Mother: “How did this happen?”

Me: “Maybe when he’s ready to go back in, it would be best to have an adult in with him.”

Mother: “You saying this is my fault?”

Me: “No, I’m saying that he may not be a strong enough swimmer to be swimming alone in the ocean just yet.”

Mother: “He swims in the lake at home all the time!”

Me: “A lake and an ocean are very different.”

Mother: “All I’m saying is, this wouldn’t happen back home. Kids just don’t drown in America.”

Me: “Just make sure someone is with him if he goes back in the water, okay?”

Mother: “Oh, so, you’re the beach police, now?”

Me: “Yeah, actually, I am.”

Mother: “Smarta**.”

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This Sandcastle Is Built On A Solid Foundation

, , , , , | Friendly | December 3, 2017

(My husband and I are at the beach with our outgoing, precocious five-year-old, and we are trying to convince her to wade in the lake. It’s warm, and not too deep for her, but she is afraid of the waves and the group of seventeen- or eighteen-year-old boys also in the water, who have spread out their things on a blanket a few yards away. A girl who’s about fourteen and seems to be the younger sister of one of the boys is building a very small but very nice sandcastle alone, and I feel a bit bad for her, as she looks miserable. My daughter refuses to get in the water, so my husband and I get out and relax on the beach while our daughter surveys the area. She notices the lonely girl on the blanket and hurries over to talk to her and admire the castle, and the girl seems to light up. After a few minutes my husband calls out:)

Husband: “[Daughter]! Come back over here!”

Daughter: “Can [Girl] come, too? She said she can help me make a sand castle.”

(The girl’s name is apparently the same as my daughter’s, which is somewhat uncommon.)

Me: *surprised* “Oh, her name is [Name], too? How do you spell it, [Girl]?”

(It turns out, she spells her name like [Daughter]’s, but with an A and Y instead of an E and I.)

Me: “How interesting! It’s not an everyday name.”

Girl: *nods*

Daughter: “Can she come and build a sandcastle with me?”

Husband: “Do you mind, [Girl]?”

Girl: *smiles* “I… I’d be glad to. Nobody else asks to, you know, build with me.”

(My daughter brings her new friend over to start the sandcastle. The girl is quite the artist and builds my daughter a pretty castle with windows and stairs. She even gets my daughter to wade in the lake to get water! They both seem to have fun, and my daughter is sad when one of the boys tells the girl it’s time to go. After taking a picture of the castle, I stop to thank the girl.)

Me: “Thanks so much, [Girl]. [Daughter] had a blast. It was so nice of you to play with her.”

Girl: *looking genuinely thankful* “No, thank you for letting me play with her. I… I mean … It’s been a rough couple weeks, and my brother kind of dragged me out here to have fun. Your kid made my day.”

(The girl’s brother called again, and the girl ran over to meet him. I don’t know what was going on with her, but I was glad that my daughter could make it a little better. If you’re reading this, nice girl, I hope everything gets better for you!)

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The Glass Is Definitely Half-Full

, , , , , , | Hopeless | December 2, 2017

(I love beach glass, and since I live near a public beach, I’ll usually go for a walk and collect some when I get home from work. It can be hard to tell exactly what beach glass looks like when it’s wet, so I usually collect a handful of my favorite pieces, and sort through them later, at home. The best ones I keep and make into jewelry, and the rest goes in a bowl by my door, and when I go for a walk the next day, I’ll return it to the beach. I forget to take the glass with me one day, so when I go out the next day, I have a bigger pile than usual to take back. As soon as I arrive at the beach, I can tell I won’t find much that day – the lake is perfectly calm and flat, so the waves aren’t bringing up new pieces, and the beach is full of families, so the kids will have already collected most of it. As I’m arriving, I see a group of young kids, maybe five or six, finishing up a sand castle.)

Girl: “It’s done! Maybe if we find some beach glass or pretty rocks or something, we can decorate it?”

(I can’t resist.)

Me: “You said you want to decorate it with beach glass?”

Girl: “Yeah, but the bigger kids already found most of it. I don’t know if we can find enough…”

Me: “Here, I can help!”

(I pulled a big handful of beach glass out of my pocket and handed it to her. From the kids’ reactions, you would think I had just given them a treasure chest full of pirate gold! Totally made my day. I continued my walk, and they came and found me a few minutes later, to show me how they’d decorated their sand castle.)

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Swept Away By Those Words

, , , , , | Related | September 13, 2017

When I was very young, my great-grandma and great-grandpa lived on the beach. Whenever we visited them, my great-grandpa and I would always go for a walk along the beach. We would look at what the ocean washed up and even looked into a tide-pool once.

One day, while we were walking along, a wave rushed up onto the shore and swept me off my feet. My great-grandpa, who wasn’t very fast and walked with a cane, rushed and managed to catch me before I was swept out into the ocean.

He then smiled and told me I had to be so wonderful and important that the ocean, which had been around for millions of years, wanted to keep me.

It is something I carried with me for all of my life, even after my great-grandpa and great-grandma passed on.

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An Odd Flow Of Conversation

, , , | Friendly | August 28, 2017

(I’m at the beach with my sister, when a random woman runs up to me, waving her hands frantically.)

Woman: *shouting* “Are you wearing red pants because you have your period?”

Me: “Uh, no?”

Woman: *calmer* “Crap. Any chance you have a tampon on you anyway?”

Me: “I do.”

(I hand her one and she quickly darts for the nearest bathroom. As she comes out, she shouts to me again from about 20 yards away.)

Woman: “Thank you, tampon lady!”

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