Over the long weekend (which I made even longer by taking Friday off as well), Michael and I went to Panama City Beach. We only stayed Saturday night, but the point was not really to go the beach but to get away from the house. It was good that getting away from the house was our goal, because we got in the ocean and had fun for a few hours, then decided to go get some drinks for that night. We went, got some drinks, and by the time we got back, they had put up the double-red-flag that means NO SWIMMING! Grrrr. Previous to this, the hotel pool had been empty, and the beach was full. Not a big deal, because it's a big beach. Walk a little and you can find a semi-quite spot (remember, this is Memorial Day weekend, not Spring Break). The hotel pool however, was not big. It was a normal size pool, with an abnormal amount of people attempting to stay cool in the heat. That would be ok, if I were the same size as those who made up the abnormal amount of people. But I'm not. That's why I'm trying to loose weight. But that didn't help me at that moment, because I couldn't reach into the future and say 'hey future self, go down there and have fun for me'. Even if I could it wouldn't help very much because then my future self would be having fun and not me.
Anyway, Michael and I decided to take our drinks down to the beach and walk in the surf and watch the sun set. The sunset was gorgeous! What was not was all the people STILL IN THE WATER!!!! I don't know if these people didn't grow up around beaches and couldn't read and therefore didn't know that a double red flag means no swimming (the signs interpreting the different color flags are all over the place) or if they were just that drunk. Perhaps they couldn't understand the little symbol of a white stick-figure swimmer on a red background with a big white lined-through circle over it. DUH!!! And do you know what the emergency workers got for taking the trouble to put up all those flags? They had to rescue 35+ idiots who thought 'they could handle it'. I'll grant that one or two, maybe even 5 or 10, were either the cause of the flag change from yellow to double red, or were in the water as the flags were being changed and did not yet realize the danger. But THIRTY-FIVE people? I heard about a few who were on the beach in the middle of the night (or really early morning) and drunk who had to be rescued. If you really crave that much thrill, go find a roller coaster!
Here's the real kicker: two people died. I don't know the story for one of them, but the other was Pierre Allen, just back from a tour of duty in Iraq. Was he being an idiot and thinking that he could handle the conditions? NO! He was on vacation and he tried to help out someone who was drowning. That just pisses me off. I'm sure the person he helped (who survived) felt really bad and I'm even willing to say that that person may have been among the first victims of the rip current. No blame should fall on that person unless that person really deserves it. However, what a crappy way for a vacation from your job to end. You just try to help out, do your job even though you are on vacation, save someone else's life at risk to your own, and you end up dying, at 21, after just getting back from hell. Silver lining? Well, I believe in heaven and hell, and I'm pretty sure Mr. Allen went to heaven. 'No greater gift' and all that. If you are inclined to prayer, please offer a prayer for him and especially his family. I'm sure they can use all the help they can get right now. While you're at it, pray for all of our troops who are out of the country, and especially those who are in danger, and Mr. Eric Williams, who is currently in Sadr City, Iraq. If you aren't inclined to pray, then just send good thoughts their way; they so deserve it for making sure we can sleep soundly at night.
So the big lesson of this blog??? Our troops deserve every kindness we can possibly give to them because of who they are and what they do, and DON'T SWIM ON DOUBLE RED!!!!