Hell and hallelujah

double red flags

Twin red flags whipped furiously in the driving rain. The banner corners, frayed by the frantic urgency of the storm, cracked like wet, twisted towels with every wind direction change.

Rangers patrolling the beach on ATVs yelled out warnings to those flirting with rip tides and undertow, cautioning that they would be better off on the beach, than being dragged miles out into open sea. Indignant over having their ocean vacation ruined by draconian and anachronistic rules hampering their holiday enjoyment, they waited for the green-clad enforcers to leave, then jumped back into the churning water. Their rescuers already too far beyond their cries for help to save them when the kraken took hold.

Stumbling from the monster surf with the sodden casualty, the rescuer collapsed to the sand while his comrades expended lifesaving efforts on a hopeless cause.

As ghoulish onlookers crowded around in a snaking semi-circle, macabre commentary of the day’s entertainment made the rounds.

“No umbrellas, no sunglasses.”

“It’s just hell and hallelujah everyday”

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ranger patrol double red flagsIn Florida we have a flag system to indicate beach conditions. If deemed dangerous enough, either because of rip tides, strong surf, or marine life (read: sharks), double-red flags fly, and the beach closes. Shore Patrol has authority to ticket anyone violating a double-red warning.

Understandably, DR flags fly before, during and immediately after a hurricane or tropical storm makes landfall. It’s hard to explain just how powerful rip tides are and how deceptively fast you can be dragged out into open water, sometimes miles from shore.

Regardless of how strong a swimmer you are, you can become a drowning victim within minutes.

Here is the portion of this post where I rant

I don’t care how far you traveled to vacation at the beach. I don’t care how long you’ve lived near the ocean and that you’ve swam in stronger tides when you were a kid.

Your right to enjoy the Gulf ends when you put someone else’s life at risk to pull your sorry ass out of that water because you chose to disregard the law or that no one is going to tell you, you can’t go for a swim. Once you became a potential victim it’s the obligation of the Shore Patrol to make heroic efforts to save you, at risk to their own life and the lives of their fellow patrol members.

The first named storm of 2012, Alberto, formed on May 19, nearly two weeks before the official June 1 start of the Atlantic and Gulf Hurricane season.

Master's Class

Inspired by the Incubus song, “If Not Now, When”
No umbrellas, no sunglasses, hell and hallelujah everyday

*The backstory of this post is an excerpt from a post first published on my former site, “If Mom Says OK,” on Sept. 12, 2008, in the wake of Hurricane Ike which made landfall on Sept. 7 in Galveston, TX; updated and edited.

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12 replies »

  1. I really love the aesthetic choices of the words you used, I had to read it once for pleasure of them and then again to catch the content. As to the rest? Holy crow, I could not agree with you more. I don’t live anywhere near rip tides, so I’ve got no personal experience but I’ve seen rescuers trying to get to people who refused to leave their houses during floods and I get so aggravated. It’s just ridiculous.

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  2. I’m a rebel, until I’m not. You tell me to get out , I get out. Nothing is more important than the safety of others.

    I loved the picture…it was the perfect image for this piece.

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  3. Excellent title.

    I like how the red flags are the protagonists. You sort of nod and recognize their place in the story. Good piece, partner.

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  4. It’s a similar situation to the people who decide to ski/snowboard out of bounds. Idiots think it’s a lark, never considering their stupid actions might mean someone else loses their life. There are REASONS for putting up fences. Ski patrol doesn’t do it for their amusement.

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  5. Hell and Halleluiah! :-) It’s better that you rant (if they pay attention) than to wish you had said something to that person that would have listened, if only someone had said something.

    I don’t mess with big water, it hides the full fashion of its strength (even when it already appears to be aggressive), and is much taller than I am when it pulls me to the floor.

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  6. That was fast, and your point is made excellently here. I will never understand the surfers who jeopardize not only their own lives but rescue workers lives just to “catch the big one.” There’s a lot of beach mentality I don’t get. LOL. Great writing!

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