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An Ocean of Dreams
May 2008 | by Jon Edelbrock


He was full of passion and zeal. But like many others, his goal exceeded his talents. He was a twenty-something idealist from the upper Midwest and he wanted to join California 's finest beach lifeguards in Del Mar.

In the spring of 2005, we received our usual inquiries from young ocean enthusiasts about the possibility of summer employment as Student Lifeguards, a seasonal position for individuals sixteen and over who have the hopes of becoming a full journeyman-level Lifeguard.

On a typical Tuesday, I sat down at my desk greeted by the usual phone messages; requests to return calls from vendors, employees, and ‘hopeful' employees looking to get an idea of our hiring process. For some reason, I particularly enjoy the conversations with the wishful, green, and eager hopefuls; perhaps I'm reminded of myself back in 1992 as a teenager with great expectations dead-set on making the pilgrimage west to live and work at the beach.

Most of the calls we receive from applicants are from 619, 858, or 760, area codes. Nick's number was different: 612. I remember pondering the three digits, as I certainly hadn't recognized them as relative to Southern California . I returned Nick's call and was impressed with the detail of his questions and knowledge of our work, despite his area code.

After a few conversations, Nick made an incredible effort by flying from Minnesota to San Diego to attend not only one, but both tryout dates we offered that spring. The first, and most important, part of our hiring process is the physical testing. It's hard and cold: if you can handle yourself well in the ocean with good speed you move on to the next step. If not, try again next year.

Nick, as others have before, scored sentimental points with his passion, preparation, and knowledge, despite his lack of ocean prowess. Unfortunately, Nick ended up at the back of the pack on both tryout dates but regardless, he gained respect from all of us by following his dream.

Each year I look forward to the spring and being part of the hiring and training process, however, for those aspiring to be Lifeguards, the City of Del Mar is not hiring this year. I'm thankful we've done a good job figuring out the employee retention equation, but I'm certainly going to miss being part of the youthful discovery process of years past.


Jon Edelbrock reports from the 17th St. Lifeguard Station.



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