His feet scraped against stone as he fought against the waves. The limp weight in his arms felt impossible.
The world around him blurred as saltwater and sand poured into his eyes. He didn’t have long before it was too late. He was also breaking one huge rule.
Tomas Lopez rubbed on a new layer of sunscreen. The light summer breeze barely took away the scorching heat.
Being a lifeguard might have been minimum wage, but he was still very proud. He had worked so hard to pass his test. Little did he know, things were about to change in a drastic way.
Not that far out from shore, he spotted a teen girl. She waved her hands and pointed beyond the sandbar.
White bubbles and splashes mixed with flashes of a yellow bathing suit and flailing skin. Someone needed him! Feeling the familiar rush and focus, he grabbed his rescue tube and raced towards the girl.
The cold water threw his senses into overdrive. It didn’t take long to swim past the yelling girl and reach her struggling friend.
He wrapped his strong arms around her body. But something felt strange. This wasn’t a normal rescue. He couldn’t quite place it. The teen suddenly spun around and looked right into his eyes.
Then, without warning, she leaned in and kissed him. The teen blushed a deep red, wiggled out of his arms, and then swam away with her giggling friend.
Tomas sighed and tried to control his annoyance. He was about to go in and reprimand them when he near a new, desperate call for help. This one sounded worse.
“Someone’s drowning! Way down there!” A woman pointed through the throngs of Miami beach-goers.
Tomas instantly forgot about the faking teens and darted through the glistening crowds. As the crisis came into view, he sprinted faster. In the back of his mind, his training warned of one major sign – and he was going to willingly ignore it.
As soon as he saw the motionless man floating over the waves, he didn’t care anymore.
The “training” didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was getting the man onto shore and saving his life. He cut into the waves again. This time, the body felt cold and the man’s lips had turned blue.
Tomas was good at his job for many reasons. But the big one was being able to keep a level head in the middle of a dire situation.
His heart kept a steady beat. His mind stayed clear. He pulled the man onto the sand and checked his airways – nothing. The next steps would be bittersweet.
He administered CPR. Again and again, he tried. Time stretched out and seconds felt like an eternity.
Countless rotations passed, and the wonderful sound of a gulping breath told Tomas that things were going to be okay … for now. His good deed was about to be punished in the most insane way.
Word spread quickly and his coworkers patted him on the back. Tomas couldn’t help but feel proud.
He loved his job so much. However, when the boss came in, it wasn’t the same look of happiness. The round man looked furious. He pointed a sausage finger at Tomas and said, “You’re fired.”
He felt his heart drop. “What?!” It wasn’t just him either. The rest of the room all wore the same look.
His rotund boss raged. “Do you have any idea what you did?! You ignored the boundary sign. You KNOW you’re not supposed to go past it!” Everyone gaped. But Tomas wasn’t going to stay quiet.
“What was I supposed to do? Just let him die?!” He couldn’t believe it. Seriously!
That stupid metal sign was going to decide the fate of another human being? The boss wasn’t done. “We’re liable! We only pay you to protect OUR part of the beach. Nothing else! Get your stuff and get out.” Then something unbelievable happened.
Tomas grabbed his bag, but then seven other members of the team stood forward. “We’re going too then.”
They all grabbed their things and walked out with Tomas. It was a mix of appreciation and anger. His resentment carried over the next few days until he got a surprising phone call.
He listened to a reporter gush about the story and beg for an interview. Tomas blushed and felt a sheepish wish to withdraw from the sudden limelight.
However, he quickly realized he could do some real good. He could save more people than in his old job. What happened?
His media coverage forced the beach to re-evaluate the boundary policies. It didn’t stop there.
Several job offers for better lifeguard positions came through. The best part? The old job asked him to return. It took all his self-control to give a polite, calm “no”, but inside his heart was dancing.