Thursday, March 08, 2007

An Interesting Short (Or, The Most Brilliant Patron Identifier)

I'll try to spin the most minor of The Park's idiosynchracies into something entertaining:

We all gaze longingly into the middle-distance and recall our own departments as the coolest areas in The Park to work- Bungee Tower had suburban testosterone and views of thunderstorms rolling into the valley from McAfee. Lola Cars folks got to race around "testing the cars," and scam food from the Lola Cafe all day. Alpine Base sat in AC and ruled over the slide-grommets' destinies. First Aid rolled the dice of potential HIV exposure mixed in with a healthy dose of boredom, spades, and laziness. GS got to pick up baby diapers from the Wave Pool. But nobody could beat the gig held at the top of Big and Little Gironomo.

These life guards truly had the cush show. They were the creme de la creme- or at least knew someone in a low-grade supervisory role- and hung out at the top of the cliff jumps. The cliff jumps were always shady as a lazy summer day- a cool breeze blew off the water of the 20-foot-deep pool below; the sound of waterfalls echoed from within this oasis of trees that was tucked between the bumper boats and the Tiki Bar. These guards were the most physically fit- they all looked good in The Park-issue shorts or one-piece suits. They could jump from 30 feet above and descend upon the hapless swimmer, thereby saving their pathetic lives from certain demise in the tragic and uncharted waters of Vernon Valley.

I was already working at The Park and into my second summer season when I had noticed it. My middle-distance gaze today cannot recall if I was tending to a nondescript head injury, or maybe boarding and collaring a neck injury in the Colorado River Rapids, but there it was. "CFS."

As the kind of person who usually plays off something I don't understand, waiting until it's meaning or definition reveals itself through casual conversation or some other means of learning it's context, I waited curiously. But I kept seeing "CFS" on the wristbands of patrons, written in black sharpee marker. Sometimes in the Base area, online at Tarzan, hanging poolside at the Wave Pool, at the Signal Six Code Yellow at the queue pool- everywhere I went.

The mystery was solved for me one day at the top of Big, in the shade. I had been hanging around there with Steve and Jimmy- two lifeguards who were supposed to be The Shit and had graduated from saving a dozen a day from The Wave Pool- and I casually posed the question about "CFS."

I had a good segue. Steve had just turned away a patron from the 30-foot jump after checking his wristband, which even I could spy had "CFS" conspicuously emblazoned in bold black upon it. I said, "Hey, why could'nt that guy jump?"

Steve glanced down at the next patron's band- which was clean of this demarcation- and let him pass on to the jump. He responded, "Care-Free Swimmer."

"Huh?" I asked. That patron had passed and jumped; the line empty.

"Can't Fuckin' Swim. These assholes come here and jump into 20-foot water thinking it's as deep as their bath tub and they sink to the goddamn bottom. I see CFS on their wristband, I know they've already been rescued from drowning once today. Probably at the Wave Pool. I'll be goddamned if I'm gonna jump off of this into that ice-water and pull him out again. I swear, these fuckers sink right to the bottom, and they're always 200 fucking pounds."

He paused, realizing he had to clarify the dual meaning "CFS." "If someone asks what CFS means, though, we tell them 'Care-Free Swimmer.'"

"Oh," I said. Mysteries solved.

Yeah, these guys had the cush show, and I guess they jumped off that cliff to rescue folks a lot less often than I had figured. After all, the Wave Pool guards had already screened out most of the victims for them.

10 comments:

therese said...

I really loved watching those storms roll across the valley. For a moment, at least. Then reality would set in and I would have to scramble to stow away the cords and run down the steps of the 100-foot lightning rod that was the bungee tower.

Colleen said...

Why would someone try jumping off that cliff in the first place if they CFS? Maybe I'm being too practical by asking that...

therese said...

That's a question for the ages, Colleen.

tflynn said...

One theory is that patrons thought the water below was waist-deep. Yet another was that many couldn't speak/read English and just nodded their heads "yes" when asked by the guards if they could swim. But my favorite theory is that they knew it was too deep, but jumped anyway because they saw that lifeguards pulled you out anyway.

You see, most lifeguards at your local public pool maybe saved 2-3 people per summer from drowning. These guys were pulling 2-3 people out a day.

00doc said...

In addition to doing first-aid at the park I was one of the cliffs guards one summer ('84 or '85 I think) and the cliffs pool supervisor the next. Generally the guards at the top of the clifs did not go in (except for the search for the submerged swimmer - which was before my time). The "Superguard" went in the most (from the bottom of the slide) and the island guard went in a lot. The guards on the tops of the cliffs were supposed to keep the patrons from continuing to jump in - and on the guard in the water. There were ring buoys that could be thrown down if the island guard missed.

We didn't have a way of marking the non-swimmers but it was not uncommon for people to ask, "you 'da life-guard, right?". Then say, "so when I go in you're going to save me, right?" it was also common to see one guy jump in and then his friends all laugh hysterically and onloy then tell you that he can't swim.

tflynn said...

I forgot about the much-coveted "SuperGuard" position. Yes, it's all coming back to me now...

MR10 Driver said...

I forgot about CFS!

Another great story, there is definitly a book for us First Aid veterans.

Just found this site and still reading.

Ken

Keivn M. said...

My ex gf (Wendy) used to work as the "superguard" at the cliffs. The stories she would tell about saving city people who couldn't swim were incredible. Two or 3 saves a day was the norm easily.

bigal said...

This blog brings back alot of memories.Although I did not work at the park I was a frequent patron
starting in 1982-1990.And yes most of the time I spent at the park involved alcohol or other substances.I was never injured at the park,although many of my friends were.It all came down to common sense,if you act like an idot the chances were pretty good you would get hurt.

Anonymous said...

I too was a frequenter of the park in the mid-80's. I can distinctly remember getting to the 20-foot cliff as a 10 year old, and having the guard there do multiple "joke" pushes from the cliff. Like, "I'm gonna push you in!", and then grabbing my shoulders. Until he eventually pushed too hard, I lost my footing, and fell of the f'ing cliff! If that guy ever posts here, I'd like his name and address. Just to stop by... maybe say "Hi!"... perhaps set his house on fire...

Fantastic blog! The injuries all come rushing back!