It’s Time To Sink Or Swim

, , , | Right | February 5, 2018

(I work as a pool lifeguard. I am 18, but I know I look younger. As part of my job, it’s necessary for me to question someone’s swimming ability if I believe they may not be capable of swimming in the deep end, for their own safety. This altercation takes place when I spot a boy who looks like he is struggling, swimming with a float in the deep end.)

Me: *to the boy’s dad* “Excuse me. Can your son swim?”

Dad: “What?”

Me: “I was just asking if your son could swim. He has a float in the deep end, and it looks like he’s finding it difficult. If he can’t, then he needs to stay here in the shallow end.”

Dad: “Who are you to be asking if my son can swim?!”

Me: *slightly taken aback* “Erm, I’m sorry? I didn’t mean to offend you.”

Dad: “Who do you think you are? Yes, my son can swim, and probably a lot better than you can!”

Me: *getting agitated* “I’m only doing my job. It looked like your son was struggling, and as a lifeguard, I have to make sure that—”

Dad: *cutting me off again* “He’s just not very confident at the backstroke at the moment; my wife is helping him with that. He probably has more swimming certificates and qualifications than you! And what makes you think you have the authority to tell me what to do? How old are you, 16?!”

Me: *getting pretty angry now, but trying not to lose my temper* “Actually, I’m 18. And I’m a lifeguard, so it’s in my job description to care for and manage the customers who swim in the pool. And since you said yourself that your son isn’t comfortable swimming on his back, can you please keep him in the shallow end while he does so?”

Dad: “How dare you?! I’m going to be complaining about you to your manager! You have no f****** right to speak to me like that!”

(Having run out of patience with the dad, I radio through to my manager and ask him to come onto the poolside and deal with the situation, so I can get back to watching the pool and doing my job. As the dad gets out of the pool to talk to my manager, his wife, son, and daughter gather around the poolside watching the argument. My manager argues with the dad for a good few minutes, until I hear this sentence.)

Dad: “I don’t care if he’s a lifeguard; he looks 16 years old at the most, and I, therefore, won’t let him tell me what to do. My wife’s a f****** certified swimming teacher, so she knows what she’s doing!”

Me: *deciding enough is enough* “First of all, I am 18, as I told you before. Secondly, will you stop swearing? It’s rude and unnecessary. Finally, if your wife is a certified swimming teacher, she should know better than to let your son swim in the deep end if he isn’t confident or strong enough, which you already clarified he isn’t.”

(The dad stood in a stunned silence for a moment, then left the pool, his family following behind him. Later, I spoke to my manager, and discovered that not only had the dad and his family caused trouble at the pool before, but that his wife was actually fired from her job as a swimming teacher a few months back for, funnily enough, consistently allowing kids who weren’t yet capable enough swimmers to swim in the deep end to boost their confidence, despite being told multiple times not to.)

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