Lifeguard Beach Authority
Miami Beach, United States
I don't spend excessive amounts of time on the beach, yet it seems like not a day goes past that I don't hear the piercing cry of a safety whistle, or see the flailing hands of a lifeguard in his tower.
Yes, I understand the flag warnings on display and the riptide threats that ultimately claim lives from exhaustion (because folks don't know to swim parallel to the shore to escape them). And I also understand that lifeguards are like the police—no one likes 'em until they need to be saved.
But what I don't like watching are these guys bitching at people to swim closer to the shore when they're sometimes only 30 paces (or less) out. They jump out of their towers and zip over to the shore on their ATVs, and proceed to belittle the swimmer(s) in front of everyone, often for no apparent reason. Sometimes this leads to verbal altercations.
My problem is that I don't recognize the authority of any lifeguard on a public beach to tell me what to do. What if one zooms over to me and tells me he doesn't like where I'm swimming, and I refuse to follow his instructions? What municipal authority does this individual carry? Is it illegal to refuse the orders of a lifeguard?
I understand that they're the expert, and shouldn't be bothering me without a reason, but many of these guys aren't letting swimmers wade out past the waist-deep level on calm days. There's a lot of shallow water around the South Beach shore, as well as a large sandbar that you can easily walk out to—all within the buoyed swimming area.
It seems like this type of nagging is omnipresent in the United States. Laws, guidelines, and authority figures seem to nag and manipulate daily life like an annoying parent. Safety, cleanliness, and a reduction of chaos have been obtained at the sacrifice of personal liberty.
I don't like being told what to do, and resent the laughable little controls you find everywhere here—like the directional arrows spray-painted onto the boardwalk telling people what side they should adhere to, lest there be chaos on the wooden walkway.
The problem is that Americans are born into a controlling mindset, and have difficulty breaking free. The country loves to work itself to death, having pushed the notion of free time and travel into something obtained only after age 65, or crammed into a few short vacation days.
Perhaps the United States should adopt a new national tagline… I'm thinking of something along the lines of Arbeit macht frei.