I learned some of the best life lessons at the pool as a young lifeguard. I mostly learned those lessons from my boss, Louie. When I started at the pool, I was a junior on my way to be a senior in high school - and well, I was super immature.
I remember my first day of work at the pool I had to leave early to talk to the school board. I knew that the pool was open until 8:45 and the school board meeting started at 8:30. I told whomever it was I was speaking for that I would be late to the meeting because I had to work. When the pool closed at 8:45, I told my boss, "Well gotta go to the school board meeting."
"WHAT?" He was shocked - "We have clean-up to do. The other guards are counting on you."
He let me go because somehow this meeting was "important," but I learned something that night - my coworkers count on me and not to let them down.
Louie was also very cautious and made sure to point out to us every chance he got that we should always have our eyes on the pool. He showed us ways do get down from our stands in the proper form - one guard standing at attention while the other guard got down from their post and then, the other guard standing at attention while the other guard got comfortable on the stand. He would watch us from the guard shack making sure we did it just right.
He hated it when we twirled our whistles. "It looks arrogant. I don't want that." He was right. It does look arrogant.
Also, many mornings Louie had us come to the pool early and practice our techniques and swim laps. Over and over we drilled - he wanted it to be natural for us.
I was driving my mom and girls home from Rochester when I got the news that he died suddenly. He was only forty. He had a massive heart attack. All week I've been thinking about everything I learned from Louie. I'm sure I'll write more about my old-time boss and friend. He was one of a kind and made a big impact on my life.