At around the age of eight, I learned to swim at a boys’ club in Hollywood. Then at 16, I enrolled in a course with the American Red Cross and got myself certified as a WSI (Water Safety Instructor). With this credential I could secure gainful employment as a teacher, a lifeguard, or a coach, anywhere in the country. I worked a couple of summers as a lifeguard, and I loved it. I looked forward to a long, rewarding career in or near the water. Or in the immortal words of Kenny Chesney: No shoes, no shirt, no problem.
Then I did a bit of research, and got gobsmacked with a hard dose of reality: The career path for a WSI was very uncertain. By far the majority of these jobs were both part-time and seasonal. The pay rate was lousy. Beach duty paid more, and Baywatch made it look sexy and glamorous; but the work in the hot sun was grueling. After considering all of these factors, the good and the bad, I reached a decision: The job wasn’t for me.