Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Lifeguard (11/09/06)
TITLE: Looking For Work
By Dan Louise Mann
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“Hmm…” The man perused both sides of my very professional-looking resume (well, apart from the bottom border of playful porpoises). “My my,” he remarked. “You do have a lot of experience, but I’m afraid we don’t have call here for your particular line of work.”
But I wasn’t going to be brushed off quite that easily. I really needed a job. “Wait a minute, how could you not?” I countered. “I’ve seen some first-class beaches around here. You have inlets for snorkeling and waves for surfing as good as or better than anything I worked with in Hawaii, and that’s high praise, I assure you.” Was I laying it on too thick? I wondered. “You must have a need for skilled lifeguards…and I’m one of the best there is.” I knew I was tooting my horn just a little too much, but I couldn’t stop myself. “It’s not just any guard who gets to be in the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association,” I added, mentally cringing at how pompous I sounded.
The man peered up at me through little round glasses and smiled apologetically. “Son, I’m not doubting your qualifications. I see that you’ve guarded at some pretty famous beaches. But we just don’t need guarding at our beaches. I’m sorry.” His bespectacled gaze shifted to the guy behind me. “Next!” he barked.
Walking away, I shook my head, incredulous at what sounded to me like a recipe for disaster…beaches with no lifeguards? I bolstered sagging spirits with the thought that maybe I would fare better at another office. But judgment at the next office was no different--great resume, don’t need any lifeguards, sorry. This just didn’t make any sense to me. The fourth peon I talked to even recommended that I change my occupation! But guarding is my life! my inner self cried. it’s all I’ve ever done. It’s all I ever wanted to do.
There just had to be a place here where I could do the work I loved. I decided then and there that I would walk those beaches until I found another guard. I thought if I could just talk to a colleague, maybe this confusing puzzle would fall into place. So, like adventurers of old, I girded up my loins and roamed beach after beach for what seemed like weeks. And not once did I see a guard, or even a lifeguard tower! The whole quest was extremely discouraging and downright enigmatic!
Then one day, while sitting on the sand, looking out to sea and dejectedly pondering my bleak future, something plopped down beside me. The plop was followed by a voice.
“Hi.” I glanced stage left. There, hands around knees, sat a little girl smiling up at me. She appeared to be about 8 years old.
“Hi,” I grunted back, surprised by her friendliness. I was probably looking pretty ratty by that time, and anybody else I had seen over the weeks had pointedly ignored me.
“Whatcha doin’?” she asked, with an innocence that only a child can genuinely pull off.
“Kinda hard to explain, little girl,” I replied, my gaze returning to the far horizon.
She let out a tinkly little laugh. “Well, I only asked to see if you’d tell me, cuz I already know.” I took another look at this little self-proclaimed seer. “Mister, you aren’t gonna find work lifeguarding here no matter how long you look.”
“But why?” I blurted out, forgetting for the moment I was talking to a child.
“Cuz it’s always safe here,” she declared simply.
“Well, just where is here?” I demanded, now thoroughly exasperated.
“Why, heaven, of course,” she stated matter-of-factly.
Staring intently at her little face, I was struggling to make sense of her words when a tornado-like funnel appeared and sucked the girl into the sky. Then the beach, the sea and the horizon twisted in on itself, got smaller and smaller and vanished.
Darn! Just when I was getting a breakthrough on that enigma thing, I was left shivering in a black void! The shivering intensified, working hard to claim all my attention. Pitch darkness morphed into less dark, and then suddenly my field of view filled with my 8-year-old daughter’s face inches from my own.
“Daddy, wake up!” she was saying. “Come on, Daddy,” her pleas accompanied by impatient shaking of my shoulders. “It’s time to get ready for church.”
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