General Question

dalepetrie's avatar

Do you believe that swearing at someone in anger is threatening behavior, which would justify calling a sherriff?

Asked by dalepetrie (18014points) July 2nd, 2009

OK, we took my son to a beach tonight that had a dock to fish from and a swimming beach which was staffed by lifeguards. On the dock, two other kids came by and started fishing. They appeared to be there with their grandmother who must have been close to 70, and who didn’t seem to be paying any attention to them whatsoever. I thought the kids were playing nice with my kid, but later I found out they were teasing him, making fun of his name, messing with his stuff, etc. My son, 7 (almost 8) was very gracious to these boys who appeared to be probably 10 and 12…he even baited their hook with his own bait, lent them his net, let them play with and even dump out the fish he was collecting in a bucket (none was big enough to keep), etc. We tried to get him to go swimming earlier, but even though these bigger kids were not treating him well, he would not go swimming until they did. I thought the kids were OK, but then they get off the dock and start berating people. For example, an ice cream truck came by twice while they were fishing. Out of earshot of my son, one of them says something like “faggot ass ice cream man, think he gon’ come here when there’s a Dairy Queen ‘cross the street.”

Often my thought when I see this kind of thing is “where is the parent?” Well, the grandmother was sitting at a picnic table, not directly looking at the kids, and she said nothing when the kids were throwing around insults and profanities, but she’d have needed to be stone deaf not to have heard them. So, these kids already had their swim trunks on and just got their shirts off and went to the beach, so I brought my son to the changing house as he was not wearing his suit yet, and he got suited up. Now, after I saw that these kids had no respect for adults, or seemingly other kids based not only on things my son told me they had said, but things I HEARD them say to him, and after an incident when my son was coming off the dock hollering “shut up” loudly at them, which he explained was because they started telling HIM to shut up (of course we told him this was not acceptable even if they HAD started it), and seeing that they had ineffectual and inattentive guardianship at best, I felt a little leery about my son going out swimming with them.

I WAS going to go swimming myself, which would have been fine, but the suit I brought was the wrong size and I couldn’t fit in it. Well, my son has had swimming lessons and is in fact a better swimmer than I. Now, one other factor making me a bit on edge…two weekends ago, we were going to go to this very beach to swim and fish, instead, we went to another beach. As it turned out, that same day, at the beach we were going to go to (the one we went to tonight), a 16 year old boy drowned while lifeguards were on duty. And then, just 3 days after we went to this OTHER beach, a 7 year old boy drowned THERE (where my son DID swim for like 4 hours) while trying to get to a raft beyond the barriers, while lifeguards were on duty. Just before we were going to leave that evening when he did go swimming 2 weeks ago, my own 7 year old swam to that very same raft, and reported to me that he thought he wasn’t going to make it there for a while. So we were a bit nervous even though neither of us believes in “fate” as something you can tempt.

Anyway, with the kids putting us on edge, and knowing what had just happened in that lake not two weeks ago, and my son’s own “close call” in another lake where a kid drowned 3 days later doing EXACTLY what he was doing, we were a “bit” nervous about him swimming in that lake without one of us in the water. But, there were 3 lifeguards on the beach and one in the lifeguard house, my wife and I were watching, my son is a pretty well trained swimmer, and we told him not to go out too deep, and he agreed. So, he went. Basically almost immediately, I went to our car to get a chair, my wife had one and I went to get one to set up next to hers, and as I’m heading back, I hear my kid hollering to the other 2 kids, “let go, let go of my leg, let go of my leg, stop dragging me, let go of my leg, I can’t go out this far, it’s too far, let go of my leeeeeeggggg….” My wife was running up there, yelling at the kids LET HIM GO, RIGHT NOW, and eventually they did. But in that whole time, with my wife hollering, my kid hollering and two kids bigger than my son dragging him out deeper than he wanted to go, against his will, 4 lifeguards…two standing on the beach, one sitting in the big chair and one in the lifeguard building, didn’t do a goddamn thing. I didn’t expect anyone to clear the beach or to strip down and swim out there, but I thought, damnit, at least blow the whistle! At first I was angry at those little bastards, and the whole while the Grandma is sitting out of eyeshot, oblivious to the whole thing.

My wife then goes and gets the grandmother, whose response is “oh dear”. She comes with my wife, and the kids are denying they did anything up and down. The lifeguards are just standing there even still, all the kids were still in the water. My wife talks to the lifeguards, the two on the ground anyway, a man who was the manager, and a woman who did nothing and they basically just talked at her, saying that my son’s head never went under. She was asking, “didn’t you hear him hollering for like 20 or 30 seconds, because I didn’t do anything at first,” and they were just trying to make excuses as I saw it. It pissed me off.

So I walked up there and here was the conversation I had (I was red faced and angry, I had been scared first off and second, I didn’t feel like they were doing their jobs…I could hear the fear in my son’s voice, and the fact that he KEPT saying it and they KEPT ignoring it made me angry…the fact they they were trying to justify their collective inaction to my wife and basically talking AT her and not TO her, really pissed me off).

Me – “Didn’t you hear him hollering, ‘let go of my leg, let go of my leg’?”

Lifeguard – “He didn’t seem to be in any danger, and his head never went under the water, he…”

Me – “But he KEPT yelling for like 20 or 30 seconds until my wife did something about it,”

Managing Lifeguard- “I was doing my job…”

Me- “Well you weren’t doing it very fucking well…”

Managing Lifeguard (to a 4th lifeguard in the building), after blowing the whistle and telling everyone to get out, FINALLY – “Call the Sheriff, he’s threatening me.”

She went in to the building to call the Sheriff, I went there to ask her if she was the manager, she informed me that the Nazi pinhead on the beach was the manager.

I stormed out of there basically saying I was leaving before you Nazi fucks can have me arrested rather than do your jobs. My wife actually started interacting with the other lifeguard who was very nice to her, talked to her and not AT her, but I was too angry at the time to see this, so I kept berating him. My wife even said to the guy, “you can understand what happened here a couple weeks ago is in the back of my mind,” and he said, “not on my watch.” He assured her he knew what he was doing, was well trained, and there’s a fine line between horseplay and someone being in danger, he did not feel my son was in danger and thought he had come with those kids. He was kind and apologetic, and my wife seems abated by his explanation, but I still feel that he dropped the ball along with the rest of them.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, I was 10 feet away from the lifeguard when I swore at him, he was on the sand beach and I was on an elevated grass slope, plus I’m a fat guy, this guy is a trained lifeguard with an athletic build, not like I could have threatened this guy if I’d wanted to, nor could I have caught him if I DID intend him bodily harm…I was using WORDS…angry WORDS, but nothing but…I didn’t come at him, I didn’t get in his face, I didn’t raise my fists to him, just said that one thing. And last time I checked, telling someone, “you’re not doing your job very fucking well,” is not the same as telling someone “I’m going to fucking choke you”. This other pissant lifeguard said later that they understood we were leaving and didn’t feel safe, and that they had called the police back and told them not to come, but that they regard profanity as “threatening behavior” per their regulations. So apparently the profanity those kids were using didn’t count for SOME reason, not really sure what this regulation is, or if it indeed exists or if someone was just practicing a bit of CYA.

I’m just curious, what do you think? Does an irate father on the beach who throws out one foul word after seeing two kids try to pull his son under the water and seeing 3 full grown lifeguards do dick about it justify calling the cops, or was I dealing with a facist little prick who hides behind his little lifeguard uniform to feel like a man, and is willing to pull rank to deflect blame for his own stupid mistakes?

Clearly I overreacted, to what degree do you think I did so? Do you think it’s proper protocol to wait until a kid’s head goes under to blow a whistle? Does the fact that they thought the 3 kids were together (because their guardian was nowhere by) make it any more acceptable? Should they be a bit more cautious in light of what happened there recently? Should it be acceptable anywhere in the United States for someone to call the Sheriff on someone for using the “F” word? Doesn’t the fact that there was only ONE OTHER kid in the water, making the kid to lifeguard ration 1:1 make their inaction all the more appalling. Am I wrong for being so fucking pissed off that I’d love to rip that lifeguard’s head off and shit down his neck?

Give me some perspective before I scream. I promise not to bite your head off if you tell me I was 100% wrong and they were 100% right, I just would appreciate the reason behind your reasoning. Like if you’ve been a lifeguard or know a lifeguard and that is just part of the “lifeguard code” to call the cops if someone swears at them, and that it’s also proper protocol to wait until a kid’s head goes under before you act, then if you know that to be 100% true, fine…I just want to know, because if that’s really the case, I’m not sure I want to take my kid swimming in any more lakes this summer, ESPECIALLY not that one. I’m also wondering if there is someone you think I could, or should call to report their behavior if you think it’s wrong, and how I’d go about finding the right person(s). Thanks.

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50 Answers

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Sounds like the lifeguard was scared, embarassed for being called out for sucking at his job, and he just did the only thing he could think of to try to regain control of the situation. You were 100% RIGHT. You are the parent and it’s your responsibility to take up for your child. I think you did what any good parent would do. (I probably would have also given the grandma a piece of my mind)

I’ve never been a lifeguard, but I’ve seen lifeguards blow the whistle and pull kids out of a pool for far less than those brats were doing. If I were you I just wouldn’t let my kid go back to that lake because it is basically unsupervised. Maybe there is a park ranger, etc. who is supervisor of the entire lake area that you could report this to.

dalepetrie's avatar

@BBSDTfamily – kind of what I thought, but once he pulled that pussy move, my goal was to stay out of jail…38 years I’ve never come CLOSE to running into trouble with the law and some asshole teenager is gonna call the cops on me for saying the F word? I certainly wasn’t going to give them a reason to have me arrested. All I want to get this joker fired, and possibly 2 of the other 3 (in fact I’m not all that convinced that the 4th one was blameless, but he at least seemed polite and understanding of our point of view unlike the others who just wanted to make an uncomfortable situation go away). According to my wife, the other lifeguard who was gracious towards her pretty much scoffed when she asked “HE’s YOUR manager?” I have reported this to the investigative team of one of the local news stations via a phone tip, it will be interesting if they call me back. If they don’t bite, there are at least 6 more stations and 3 or 4 papers I could contact…I’m just wanting to make sure that I’m not making a fool of myself by pressing the case that they weren’t doing their jobs when they really were, and that my one little word isn’t going to completely absolve them of their dereliction of duty and be seen as proper protocol.

cyn's avatar

hell no! you did the right thing. Horseplay can be something dangerous. Someone could’ve been hurt! I would fire the lifeguard if I was the real boss! freedom of speech…damn it!

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Your little word came after they failed to act on their duty as lifeguards, so no it does not absolve them of their duty. Public profanity is a misdemeanor in some places, but the lifeguard just was embarrassed it seems to me. I would definitely report it to every news outlet. If you can’t get him fired, at least expose him. It’s the least you can do before another kid drowns.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

In some counties/cities you can be fined or legally warned for swearing (indecent action or something like that).... But if he had called a sheriff because you swore at him, the sheriff would’ve probably laughed his ass off/and or fined him for false emergency upon arrival.

Side note, if no one else is parenting those children, feel free to do it when YOUR child is involved. You may not have the right to do parenting for their parents. But if your kid is involved you have EVERY right to set rules.. and if those kids don’t want to follow them, then they don’t have to play with your kid.

Kraken's avatar

The police don’t serve and they don’t protect. Call a friend or relative instead if you want results.

MacBean's avatar

If a person honestly feels threatened by another person’s angry swearing, then yes, police involvement is appropriate. The guy doesn’t know you at all. All he knew was you were getting angrier. He had no way of predicting if that would be the end of it or if you’d jump on him the next minute and start punching him in the face. He probably figured better safe than sorry.

cyndyh's avatar

I think you were in the right. Here the people you’d contact would be the city’s Park and Recreation. I think you should write a letter about this to the Parks and Rec that runs the lifeguard program there (actually you already have above) and ask if kids are really safe with those kind of lifeguards on duty.

Where I’m at the lifeguards are hurting for hours. I bet they are there, too. Maybe they can replace those do-nothings with someone who has safety in mind -especially in light of recent events.

Best of luck to you. Let us know if/when anything comes of this.

Grisaille's avatar

Sounds like you had quite the day.

As it stands (and to answer the question), I don’t believe, in this case, calling a Sheriff is justifiable. Regardless of all that, what would have happened if your kid was a little older – say 13 or so – and he was on the beach alone with kids 15–16? If anything, I would have called the Sheriff on the damn lifeguards for not doing anything.

Am I the only one who thinks those little bastards screwing with your son both deserve a serious talking to?

Response moderated
augustlan's avatar

Honestly, it sounds like both you and the lifeguard over-reacted a bit. You had a better reason, since you were scared and angry. They saw what was happening, and didn’t believe he was in danger (doesn’t mean he wasn’t). I don’t think that necessarily means they were derelict in their duties. That said, it would have been nice if they’d been understanding about your concerns, and took the time to explain it without being dicks about it. I don’t think he should have called the sheriff because you oh my god cussed.

Grisaille's avatar

@DarkScribe While I understand everything that you’re saying, I think you’re forgetting how scared he might have been at that moment. Let’s put it into perspective:

- You have a good kid, that just wants to play with the older kids.

- The older kids are being dicks, cursing at adults and being a jerk to your boy.

- Already upset with the day, you go to the car for something and hear the blood curdling cries for help from your child. You quickly remember that two other children have drowned in the area recently.

- Showing up to the scene, you see your wife yelling at the children, whilst the lifeguards are all standing around, picking their noses.

- You know that they know that children have drowned here.

You’re telling me that you wouldn’t be upset? Granted, cursing is a debate for another day. I find if very normal if he was yelling, but I get what you point out: “One told you that your kid’s head never went under water – it means they were watching.”

However, why “idiot”? Because his natural response, as a scared parent, was to yell at the lifeguards?

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@DarkScribe Thank God you are not a lifeguard looking after my kids.

DarkScribe's avatar


Sure I’d be upset if a kid of mine was being bullied, but I still wouldn’t blame the Lifeguard. A lifeguard’s job is saving lives, not being a de facto parent.

I am a parent and I don’t yell at lifeguards. I grew up on and still live in a surfing area. I have NEVER seen anyone yell at a Lifeguard over an issue that was nothing to do with them. A beach is not a kindergarten, a parent is responsible for their child, not a Lifeguard. The kid was not in danger – end of Lifeguard responsibility or interest.

DarkScribe's avatar

@BBSDTfamily Thank God you are not a lifeguard looking after my kids.

Why not? Like many surfing Australians I used to be a volunteer lifeguard when young and was a damn good one. If your kids were in danger, then I’d do something about it. If they need better parenting, I have no interest. Lifeguards are not pretend kiddie Police.

Grisaille's avatar

@DarkScribe There’s a line between bullying and putting a life at danger.

I’m inclined to believe this case, in @dalepetrie‘s mind, crossed it. I get what you’re saying, but cut the guys some slack. It was a moment of terror.

cyn's avatar

something is telling me that @DarkScribe went through this situation in his lifeguard years…

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@DarkScribe Lifeguards are supposed to protect those swimming under their watch, and anyone who does not consider two kids trying to pull another under water as a threat should not be a lifeguard. What should he have done? Waited until they did pull him under water or dragged him out into the very deep end? I mean how far would you let something go? Not saying he should have swam out and spanked the kids, but blowing a whistle and telling them no horseplaying would have been appropriate.

DarkScribe's avatar

@BBSDTfamily anyone who does not consider two kids trying to pull another under water as a threat should not be a lifeguard.

Unrealistic nonsense. Kids do it all the time. It’s called high jinks.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@DarkScribe Wow. Kids do it all the time is your response? Kids do a lot of things all the time that lead to accidents. I hope you are not responsible for any children, for their sake.

DarkScribe's avatar

@BBSDTfamily _Wow. Kids do it all the time is your response? _

Yes, it is what is known as reality. Try is sometime – you might even grow to like it.

Any large surfing beach is crawling with kids doing similar things. They are not baby serial killers trying murder people, they are just kids playing and teasing each other.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@DarkScribe Like I said, glad there is no threat of you watching my kids. I don’t understand your stance on lifeguarding, as I have observed lifeguards blowing whistle for horseplaying many, many times. It is a commonly posted rule in most swimming areas. Like I said, I don’t think he should have spanked the kids as a parent should, but he shouldn’t allow horseplaying in deep water.

Response moderated
BBSDTfamily's avatar

@DarkScribe doesn’t mean much to me, good night though.

YARNLADY's avatar

this is a good example of why I made a decision in my life that I will never under any circumstances use swear words, even in anger. All it does is exacerbate an already difficult situation. If you would have been the one to suggest calling the police to address the out of control hooligans, rather than berate the lifeguard, without the swearing, I suspect you would have had a much less painful outcome.

dalepetrie's avatar

Everyone but @DarkScribe, thank you. And @DarkScribe, as I said I welcome all opinions even those not friendly to me, and normally I would value the input of someone who has seen the other side of the lifeguard stand. I do not however welcome being called names out of the blue with no provocation, and to me, your open hostility pretty much undermines your credibility in my eyes before you even began posting your opinion. You’ve made your position clear, which you could have done without a personal attack, a clear violation of the Terms of Service of this site. As for your stated opinion, I will beg to differ in our relative definitions of horseplay, as in my opinion when a person is actively calling out for help for 30 seconds, it ceases to be horseplay and begins to be assault. I further note that no one was asking the lifeguard to be a de facto parent, he had two who were very pro-active in putting an end to the situation and removing our child from what we felt to be a dangerous environment. As I see it, people who drown usually do so because they panic…we had a 7 year old boy here who had clear panic in his voice, who was repeatedly hollering for help, and it would have taken nothing more than the blow of a whistle and a “let him go” from the lifeguard to end the situation. As it was, to get the children to stop, my wife basically had to go into the water in her street clothes and prove to these little hooligans that she meant business.

Now, to say that I was yelling at the lifeguard for a situation which had nothing to do with him, I say that on a beach with 4 children, where 2 of them are together restraining a child smaller than either of them, a child who is fearfully begging to be let go for nearly 30 seconds, one should not have to expect an emergency situation to develop before the person in charge puts an end to the activity. This is not over cautious hand holding, this is common sense. As I said, there was one lifeguard for each child swimming, it’s not as if one of them respectfully asking two children to stop physically assaulting my child was too much to ask for in my humble opinion. By your reasoning, it would have been okay if they had pulled my child under the water and he had panicked and sucked in a bunch of water into his lungs, because the lifeguard would have been able to swim to my child, bring him to shore and start mouth to mouth breathing in time to save his live. Well, you know…I’d rather not have to go that far before someone actually gets off his ass and does his job.

And furthermore, if a situation involving 2 children bullying a 3rd child has “nothing to do” with the lifeguard on duty, then who the hell, DOES it have to do with? Are they not charged with keeping order so that the swimmers can remain safe? Allowing half of the people swimming to physically assault and intimidate another quarter of the people does not seem like maintaining any semblance of order, and if the concern is not to have a situation which would disrupt the other swimmers, then is it not their duty to put an end to any situations which might result in a disruption, such as, oh, I don’t know, two kids restraining a third, smaller, screaming child? That seems like a pretty big fucking hazard to me. But, if that opinion makes me fodder for your childish name calling, so be it. However, I too am glad I’ve never had the misfortune of swimming on a beach you’ve been guarding…any lifeguard who regards pulling a panicked child under water as “horseplay” doesn’t deserve to be guarding anything much less human lives.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@dalepetrie If I could “Great Answer” you twice, I would.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@YARNLADY I agree with you that we could all go without swearing and maybe get further in situations such as this one. However, when emotions run high- as they do when a parent sees his child in danger- sometimes a little dirty word slips out on accident.

dalepetrie's avatar

I have one other thought I would like to add. I fully understand that a lifeguard’s job is hard and I appreciate the work that they do. I also understand that they undergo training, which can essentially be boiled down to proper protocol…if you see a, do b. I get that, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, I think they use time tested methods to ensure the greatest overall safety of all swimmers.

However, I would say that protocol should NEVER trump common sense. If protocol says to get involved once a child is in danger, common sense should add, “and be proactive by ending any potentially dangerous situations you see developing as is practicable.” That is not to say, “drop everything every time you see horseplay.” Yes, children do dunk each other and pull each other under. Yes, it’s possible that at FIRST one could make a case that all 3 of them thought it was 3 kids who knew each other screwing around. But, when you have a smaller child pleading for 2 bigger children to “let go, let go of my leg, let go of my leg, stop dragging me, let go of my leg, I can’t go out this far, it’s too far, let go of my leeeeeeggggg….” continuously for 30 seconds, while the pitch of the child’s voice is becoming increasingly fearful and panicked, then I’d say what you have is a situation where it is likely that a panicking child is going to be pulled under the water. Any lifeguard worth his salt should see that as a potentially dangerous situation brewing.

dalepetrie's avatar

@YARNLADY – as for making the decision to never use profanity, I laud you. For me, it’s not that easy…I was raised around free flowing profanity, particularly when anger is involved, and it’s not that easy to turn off when you are in an angered or panicked state…I wish it were because I can certainly make my point far more powerfully if I do it without profanity. To me it’s kind of like the accent you put on your sentence for strong emphasis when you’re really pushed beyond your boiling point. Perhaps that makes me an undisciplined or otherwise imperfect person. As a human being, I can live with that.

fathippo's avatar

i think swearing is what people do when they get mad, and to express what they mean more strongly, i would think it was threatening, and definetly wouldnt call the police over it aswell…

YARNLADY's avatar

@dalepetrie I can appreciate swearing is second nature to many people. I grew up in a family that never did, and married the same, so I can’t really take too much credit for not. It just isn’t in my vocabulary, and never was. However, it seems that some places actually have made swearing in public against the law.

JLeslie's avatar

F@&K that lifeguard! :). Seriously, the lifeguards should have helped your son. When I was young I used to swim in a community pool and generally any rough housing got at minimum a whistle from the lifeguard. I am a good swimmer, I love the water, I don’t need to hold my nose when I jump in the pool or dive, I can tread water forever, but don’t push me in when I am not ready or drag me under…I’m afraid…especially if I don’t know you well and you think it is funny. If I was a parent witnessing this being done to my child I would be very upset also. But, there are a lot of people who play in the pool dunking and pushing and seem ok with it…I bet people who grow up to be lifeguards are those kind of people; people who seem to have no worries in the water, and don’t care if they swallow a gulp every so often.

Here’s the thing, society today seems more and more intolerant of any display of anger. God forbid on a flight you just simply disagree with a flight attendant they treat you like you have a bomb in your pocket. Look at the elections, everyone went on and on, still do, about how nothing ruffles Obama, they like his cool as a cucumber demeaner. But, sometimes getting heated up is how something gets done, or how the other person knows this is really serious. It seems, using profanity crosses the line for a lot of people, so I guess that is a bad idea, you won’t be effective—good to know for a situation in the future.

What I think we learned here is that this is not the beach for you, go to a different beach. Be weary of older kids playing with your son. Younger kids think older kids are cool and might put up with some abuse to hang out with them. Sounds like you did everything right in regards to keeping an eye on him, and this just reinforces your instinct as parents to watch him while at a lake. Lifeguards are trained if God forbid your kid gets caught in a riptide or needs CPR, but you are the one who will watch YOUR kid the entire time while in the water, the lifeguerd is watching the whole beach.

Lastly, even though you felt these lifeguards were being obstinate, there is a chance that you did impact them, and next time a similar situation comes up they might react to children who seem to be playing a little too rough.

The irony is those kids were mouthing off and behaving horribly and no one did anything about it, and they were doing it out of pure meanness. You got a little heated out of fear for your son, and they make it like you are a villain. I understand why that feel unjust, and probably drives you crazy. Like I said f$!k them.

casheroo's avatar

I would have probably reacted the same way as you. But, the guy was probably following procedure in calling the sheriff, so you can’t really fault him for that.

SirBailey's avatar

My thoughts:

1. You’re not gonna win, so don’t bother escalating this.

2. I would NEVER go back there.

3. I TRULY understand, if the lifeguards saw the three kids hanging around together all day and clowning around together and, maybe at times, seeing your son laughing with them, that the three were friends.

4. I would have been WORSE then you to the lifeguards.

5. I think you are putting all your eggs in one basket as far as them calling the police because you used a swear word. I think they called the police because of non-verbal cues your anger was giving off.

6. Finally, at the point at which you allowed your son to go swimming, your story provides ME with more then enough info to EASILY decide “There’s no way I’m letting my kid swim with those other 2 kids”.

JLeslie's avatar

Good point about the non-verbal cues, that makes sense. I have a family member who, when he is angry, seems like he is going to kill the person he is angry at. I know, after knowing him 40 years, that he would never raise a hand or throw an item, never once a physically violent act. But, the person on the other side of his anger, receiving his wrath doesn’t necessarily know. This family member when accused of being scary or violent tempered always replies, “but I would never hurt anyone, that is not in my mind at all.” But the other person cannot read his mind, this is what he forgets.

janbb's avatar

Oh dear! Such a muddle. I can see your upset with the whole situation and yet I can sort of see where the lifeguards are coming from. I can also understand Darkscribe because I think we’re seeing some cultural issues wherein American parents today are very protective of their kids and probably quick to jump on officials whom they feel are being derelict while Australians may be much more self-sufficient in their attitudes.

The whole day was probably very upsetting to you, Dale, and understandably so and I imagine you wish you had been able to intervene earlier and/or go in the water with your kids. While you saw the lifeguards being derelict in their duties, they didn’t see the whole backstory as it were and may have only seen an angry disruptive parent coming at them. Calling the sherriff seems an overeaction, to be sure, but they didn’t know where you were going to go with it. I think everyone – parents and officials – are often on a hair-trigger in America today and all lose perspective. I understand how upset you are, but I think it would be more profitable at this point to focus on how you can keep your son safe while allowing him some freedom than to get in to a vendetta with those lifeguards.

That’s my two cents for what they are worth.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

You were right, but you know what? When your son first told you those kids were a problem, you should have been spending time with your son, and not leaving him at the mercy of the bullies to have someone to interact with. An 8 year old should not be hanging out with 12 year old strangers. There’s nothing that says you have to have a purchased bathing suit to wear to to into a lake.

Anger and calling people names is not a good example to set for your son.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

when it comes to threatening behavior, the size and build of the people doesn’t come into play. So you’re a fat guy and the lifeguard is a buff athletic type. When a person in charge of a place, be it a lifeguard, a security officer or someone else NOT a police officer, they have rules to follow if they feel threatened. I have that in my job. We are trained to call the cops the minute we feel threatened, no matter what. Swearing is a threatening behvior, whether you think so or not. Body language is involuntary, and he could have seen yours as threatening. Sort of goes back to the old line, It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, its the size of the fight in the dog.

As for the lifeguard and your difficulties with that particular beach, the best way to handle it is to rant at a few friends to clear it off your chest, and second, don’t go back to that beach. If I don’t get the service I think I deserve at any place I pay to enjoy myself, or to shop, or whatever, I walk, and refuse to spend another fucking dime there.

Money talks, and the best way to show how yours talks is to spend it only where you feel the place deserves your business.

When your son first told you those kids were a problem, you should have been spending time with your son, and not leaving him at the mercy of the bullies to have someone to interact with. An 8 year old should not be hanging out with 12 year old strangers. <—- this is great advice, I’d take heed of it if I were you.

dalepetrie's avatar

My comments to the most recent replies.

First off, I want to make it clear that the lifeguards did not, as @SirBailey put it, observe my son playing with these kids “all day”. Basically, their pre-existing relationship was about an hour on a dock, and that dock was not in the line of view of the lifeguards. As far as the lifeguards were concerned, they had no way of knowing if these kids had EVER interacted before this. They made an assumption. I can understand this assumption if they were playing together in the view of the lifeguards, but they were not. My son had literally JUST gotten into the water. Those two kids had already BEEN in the water for five minutes. They were out by the ropes the WHOLE time. My son never voluntarily went more than half way out.

As for “leaving him at the mercy of bullies” and not spending time with him as @PandoraBoxx suggests, it was not like this at all. In fact, I had spent plenty of time with him, and I had intended to swim with him, I didn’t have a suit I could wear. I did however talk with him beforehand. I told him that he could not go out too far and he agreed. I told him not to play with those kids if they were bullying him and he agreed. Fact is, he stayed AWAY from those kids and THEY went to the shallow end, grabbed HIS legs and dragged him, kicking and screaming into the deep area.

As for the idea that they may have felt threatened by my verbal cues, I understand what you’re saying, but I think in this case the notion is preposterous, even if the size isn’t an issue. Because 1) I was several feet away from this lifeguard, 2) I was not approaching him or flailing my arms, and 3) he did not do ANYTHING until I used the F word, and it was as much as stated to me that THAT was the reason. This pinhead wasn’t afraid of me, nor did I give him any verbal or non verbal reason to be, and he knew it. Nor, @PandoraBoxx did I call the guy names in front of my son, I said, when my son was still way out in the water and couldn’t hear anyway, that he wasn’t doing his job very fucking well. Furthermore, I’m fully aware that nothing says you need to have a purchased bathing suit to swim in a lake, but I certainly didn’t feel the need to go into a lake wearing pants when my son has had swimming lessons, is a better swimmer than I am and there is one lifeguard per kid stationed at the beach…you know, you kind of have to let kids stretch their wings a little. I mean, you’re gonna judge me for not holding my nearly 8 year old’s hand to the point I didn’t walk into the lake with my street clothes when I had to drive home and didn’t have anything to change into afterwards, while @DarkScribe is going to judge me for not letting the kids go off and roughhouse in the water? You seem to be jumping to some pretty judgemental and inaccurate conclusions there, maybe you’d better re-read the question?

Also @evelyns_pet_zebra – money isn’t the issue, it’s a free beach.

fathippo's avatar

by the way up there i meant i wouldnt think it was threatening, but i kinda accidentally wrote would…

dalepetrie's avatar

@fathippo – I got the jist of it I believe…I do that myself often enough. Some people swear when they get angry, some don’t. To me it seems there should be more to it than just using a word before you get the police involved, at least in the United States of America.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

I still think you should report it and if you can’t get him fired, at least expose him.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Personal attacks are not permitted, and have been removed.

gooch's avatar

Stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me….so no

Bluefreedom's avatar

Your behavior wasn’t inappropriate considering the circumstances of how they related to the safety of your son and the inaction of the lifeguard(s). Even if you were upset and uttered a profane word or two, this doesn’t constitute a direct threat because you didn’t voice any intentions of doing physical harm to anyone. The most it might be interpeted as would be Disorderly Conduct but even that is a big stretch.

The lack of vigilance and action on the part of the lifeguards is appalling in my opinion considering how important it is to be careful when younger people are swimming and playing in the water. There must be someone who is higher up than the main lifeguard and manager and that would be the next appropriate person to talk to in ensuring someone is informed about the less than desireable behaviors and work ethics of the lifeguards.

EmpressPixie's avatar

The best thing to do, which I think you already know, is always to calm down and interact very calmly and politely with any consumer or customer service situation. And while I realize your kid’s life was potentially at stake, since you knew it wasn’t by the point you were yelling, you really should have taken a walk and calmed down before talking. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do your damnedest to get them fired or retrained or whatever you think is right. I’m just saying it’ll be a lot easier without swearing.

To answer the question—using the “f-bomb” or other strong curses are certainly enough to have any customer service rep disengage with you. In a position where he cannot choose to do so, calling in some sort of back up is probably appropriate. However, as an adult on a public beach, in a public space, frankly if all you do is curse your first amendment rights should be protected. And the Sheriff, if someone actually showed up for a cranky, but otherwise non-violent adult, would probably be annoyed the lifeguards were wasting time. Honestly, I see it as an intimidation trick.

As for what happened—that is in no way appropriate. I have only ever interacted with lifeguards who would move on that kind of thing. If they can’t hear what’s happening, yeah someone’s head has to go under water usually, but if they can then they use verbal cues. Because they aren’t morons and know that stopping a situation before it fully develops is way more important than saving someone later.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Well, there’s your problem, it’s a free beach. They’ll let any sort of riff raff in then. And personally, if I thought my kid was in danger, I would have gone out and got him, street clothes or no, car seats and upholstery eventually dry out. But hey, you got the whole thing off your chest, and you got to swear at a lifeguard, so we’re all good. :-)

dalepetrie's avatar

One other thing I’d like to clarify, I get that you will get through to people more if you don’t come at them swearing and screaming, and yes, there was an emotional element here, but one thing I can say is, in this case, it wouldn’t have mattered. Basically of the 3 lifeguards on the beach 2 of them talked AT us, only one attempted to actually talk TO us. This guy was a name, rank and serial number type….wanted to state his peace that he did his job and expected me to shut up about it. Had any one of them addressed the situation like the one guy did after it was all said and done, they might never have gotten such an earful.

Bluefreedom's avatar

@dalepetrie. That comes across loud and clear. The lifeguards had a responsibility to be more proactive in their approach to their work and they didn’t do it. Additionally, it seems like 3 of the lifeguards need to work on their IPC skills perhaps. I still think you acted like many other parents might act given the same situation. If I had a child that experienced what yours did, the lifeguards would have rued the day that they ever met me.

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