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.