If Baywatch has taught us anything, it’s that the job of a lifeguard seems pretty glamorous. They get to hang out in the sun, at the pool or beach day after day, and get paid for it. From the outside, it seems hard to see any negatives to the job. Don’t be fooled though. If your summer job involves spending hours on end around greasy fast food, then getting the chance to spend days smelling like sunscreen seems pretty damn good. However, once you get on the inside, it doesn’t take long to realize all the cons to taking on this “awesome” job. We’ve put together a list of a few things that aren’t so great about spending your days being a hero frolicking on the sand. Keep in mind not everyone who is a lifeguard is getting paid for their work, meaning they’re taking on these dramas 100% voluntarily. This deserves a pat on the back alone.
See also: The 20 Worst Jobs in the World
1. Terrible tan lines
Sure, one of the best things about working as a lifeguard is the fact you get to always take advantage of those sunny days. This means you get ample time to work on your tan which a lot of people might be jealous of. However, with tanning come tan lines which no one is going to envy you for. As a lifeguard, you don’t get to walk around in a bikini or board shorts. A lifeguard’s uniform usually consists of wearing either a shirt and pants or a full one-piece swimsuit. In the sun long enough, this will leave you with some lovely sleeve tans and a nice geometric pattern on your back from the swimsuit. Not to mention the damage being done to your skin, thanks to the constant sun exposure and inevitable burns.
2. Always asked for help
It’s sort of like people knowing you are a doctor or nurse. Once people find out you work as a lifeguard, they will always keep this piece of information in the back of their mind – possibly even after you have quit the job. Now every time something goes wrong when you are trying to relax by the pool, your friends are instantly going to call on you. If they have some sort of swim safety question, they’re going to ask you. If people can find the slightest connection between their question and your job (or past job), they’re going to come running to you. Work at the beach? Your friends and family will suddenly think you know everything about creatures that roam the depths of the seas.
On top of that, most lifeguards actually live in fear you will ask them for help or that they will actually have to handle an emergency at work. Even though you might know CPR, if you have never dealt with a situation like that before, the idea of having to do so is nothing short of terrifying.
3. Constant chlorine
This is one for all those lifeguards who work at pool sides during the summer. You might have noticed that pretty much all public swimming pools tend to smell quite strongly of chlorine. These chemicals are needed because they help keep the pool sterilized and clean. When you just spend one day swimming there, it usually just takes a nice warm shower to get rid of the scent from your skin and hair. As a lifeguard, however, you spend day after day dipping yourself in and out of the pool. When you spend an extended amount of time in this chlorine-saturated water, it eventually just becomes a part of you. No matter how much you shower, chlorine will become your natural scent letting everyone know exactly where you work. Also, if you have got bright, blonde hair, say goodbye to keeping that color perfect. Hope you like the color green because, eventually, your hair is going to start turning that color.
4. You don’t actually get to swim
You might be getting to hang around pools and beaches all day, but lifeguards only get to enjoy one half of it. During a shift, it is likely that they won’t even get to touch the water. Unless something bad goes down, there is no guarantee a lifeguard is going to touch that cool blue water today. Even if something bad happens, it’s not like they get time to actually enjoy the water. As lifeguards sit in the sun and fry away in the heat, spare a moment of silence for them as you frolic around in the nice, cold water.
5. Janitor duties
A lifeguard’s duties do not stop at simply sitting in their chair and watching people all day to make sure no one drowns. Particularly in small local pools, it is likely they have got a list of other, less enjoyable jobs to do. This can include janitor-type duties like cleaning the bathrooms, shower floors, locker rooms, and all the gross grim that can build up in the pool during the day. They take out the trash and maybe even run the nearby concession stand. They could even be the person called in when a floater appears in the kiddies’ pool. Not so glamorous and relaxing now, huh?
6. Time creeps by
When you are not meant to be doing anything but staring at a pool all day, keeping an eye on people, time tends to go by quite slowly. If you are working on a beach, this might not be so bad because you are likely to be working with a group of other lifeguards who can keep you entertained. However, if you’re working at a small pool, you’ll probably just be sitting up in your chair by yourself with nothing but your thoughts to keep you awake and attentive throughout your shift. You can only sit there and contemplate your life for so long.
7. The kids never listen
This is a big one if a lifeguard works at a pool. Little kids run amok every which way you look. A lifeguard’s job is to try and keep them in line and to make sure no one is doing anything that could get them hurt. Obviously, though, it can be hard to get little kids to take you seriously and listen to you when you are not their mom or dad. Telling a kid not to run and getting them to listen is like putting ice cream right in front of their face and expecting them not to eat it. Basically, it will probably never happen, and even if they do, it won’t be long before they start doing whatever it was again. Once again though, a lifeguard is not a parent and it is not in their job description to pull the kids into line. They just have to sit back and wait till they get to repeat themselves in a few minutes’ time.
Next time you make it down to the beach or local pool and you’re sitting there, lying on your towel, feeling envious of the guard a few meters away from you, this might make you think again. Just like you have things that you hate about your job, so does that lifeguard sitting there getting annoyed by a little kid and craving to go for a quick dip in the water.
Are you a lifeguard or have been in the past? Can you relate to any of this? Let us know in the comments section below!