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Between a Rock & a Hard Place- Sample Chapter from Ordinary Hero by Neil Cole

Ordinary Hero

It was another warm, sunny weekend with large crowds at Venice Beach. Venice is world renowned for drawing large crowds of crazy people. This day was no exception. The surf was big and the crowds bigger. On a day like this I expected to make rescues, but I never expected what was about to happen.

This rescue should not have taken place. I deserved no glory. I did not do everything the way I should have. My boss wasn’t sure whether to write a commendation or write me up for being foolish and breaking the rules. It wasn’t even my area, and in fact I didn’t do much. I just showed up and was trying to do what was needed in a harrowing circumstance.

The Venice section of beaches is divided into two areas: Venice North and Venice South, each with a supervisory tower as well as other towers. I was working at a tower next to the supervisory tower in the Venice North area. The supervisory station is at a beach point at the end of which is a man-made breakwater—a row of large rocks running parallel to shore providing some break from the surf. More than one lifeguard always mans the supervisory towers, they have a rescue vehicle assigned to them, and they always have a higher ranking and more experienced personnel than the other towers. At the time, I was a third-year guard who didn’t have much seniority.

Our lieutenant, Don “Rosie” Rosenthal, who supervised the whole area of Venice, didn’t have a tower. He cruised the beach in a truck and stayed at headquarters when not on patrol. I chose to work the Venice area because of Rosie’s reputation as a good lieutenant. He was also an old friend of my dad and uncle. They lifeguarded and competed with each other when they were younger. Rosie’s son and I were in the same rookie lifeguard class, much like our fathers.

On this particular day there was another guard in the tower with me because it was a busy summer weekend. He was older and more experienced than I, but this was my assigned tower, so he gave me a lot of respect, probably more than I deserved. That day we both noticed two things: a boat was getting dangerously close to the rocks in front of the Venice North station and was rocking up and down on some pretty big waves, and the lifeguards in the main tower were not doing anything about it. We assumed this because a lifeguard never goes anywhere without his or her floatation device, which is known as a rescue can. When a guard is in the tower, the bright red plastic can hangs from the roof at the front of the tower to let the other guards know that he or she is inside. In this case, the can was still hanging from the tower, and the rescue truck remained parked alongside the tower. We could not see that the guards in the tower were moving, even though they were right in front of the impending shipwreck.

The impending crisis was causing a crisis in our tower. We weren’t sure what to do. It is one thing to respond to an urgent situation that is occurring in front of a tower next to you; it is quite another to do so when that tower belongs to the boss. Besides, how could anyone miss such an obvious emergency?

... Read the rest of the chapter HERE


Ordinary Hero

Sample Chapter >> Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Need for True Heroes >> click HERE

To order the book Ordinary Hero click HERE
Ordinary Hero is the Retitled Paperback Edition of Search & Rescue

See also the article What is a Real Hero in God's Kingdom?

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