“I said no mustard!” the man said after consuming half of the dog in one bite. “Just give me my money back!”
“I’m sorry, Sir.” James replied, handing the man’s dollar back. Inside, he was seething. He knew that this man would go to the next vendor and order another dog with mustard and do the same thing. After two or three vendors, he will have scored a free lunch and spend the rest of the afternoon bragging to his asshole friends about his brilliance. James sighed in frustration as he watched the guy heading for another hot dog vendor.
James loved the beach and even liked his summer job here on most days. The past few days were not like most days, however. Something was bothering him and he had no idea what it was. He felt anxious all the time and had to force himself to be civil to his customers. It was like his mind was cluttered with crap and his flusher was broken.
“Oh, God! Someone help me please!” James was broken from his thoughts at this sound and looking around, saw a young woman running towards him holding a young girl who appeared to be unconscious.
He set his vendors tray on the sand and stopped the woman. “What happened?” he asked.
“I don’t know. She was playing in the water and then started crying and running towards me. She just collapsed and now she isn’t breathing.”
James pulled his cellphone out of his fannypak and handed it to the woman as he took the little girl from her. “Dial 911!” he ordered as he laid the girl down on someone’s beach blanket. He noticed the tell-tale sting marks of a jellyfish, made sure her airway was clear and began CPR. A crowd soon gathered and a lifeguard appeared and took over the chest compressions leaving James to breathe for the little girl.
James could feel the tears pouring down his face as he looked at the young girls face between breaths. “Come on, baby, breathe for me.” He heard himself repeating over and over again. “You can do it! Come on! Breathe!”
It seemed forever but soon the rescue squad arrived and the paramedics took over. “What happened?” one asked.
“Jellyfish sting.” James replied pointing out the sting marks on her leg.
“Not a drowning.” The paramedic said into his radio, “It’s a shock reaction to a jellyfish sting it appears….no she isn’t….yes…okay.” He opened his bag and filled a syringe with something and gave the little girl an injection. Then they used a defibrillator to shock the young girl’s heart. Within seconds, it seemed, she was breathing on her own and crying. The sound of the little girl crying, was the sweetest sound James had ever heard.
The crowd began to disperse as the young girl and her mother were placed in the rescue vehicle and left the scene. “Great work, James!” He turned to see Cindy, the lifeguard who had assisted him. “You probably saved that little girls life by acting so quickly.” She quickly gave him a hug and kiss on the cheek before walking away to go back to her guard station.
James went to retrieve his vendor tray and was shocked to see it empty. While he was trying to help the little girl, people in the crowd had stolen all his hotdogs. He felt the tears of frustration building again as he picked up the tray. He knew his boss would be expecting him to pay for the loss. He didn’t care… he didn’t care about anything anymore.
He walked back to the concession stand and laid his tray down on the counter. The owner walked over to him and started to say something but James spoke first. “I laid my tray down and people stole the product. You can take it out of my pay if you want…I just don’t give a damn! I’m taking the rest of the day off too, unless you want to fire me and I don’t give a damn about that either!”
“Hey, hold on sailor! Cindy stopped by and told me what you did. Don’t worry about paying for that stolen stuff and if you want a day or two off, it’s fine with me. I’m proud of you James. Not just for saving that girl either. I’m proud of you because you’re a good and honest worker. And, even more important, you’re a good son…what father wouldn’t be proud of you?”
James looked into his dad’s eyes and for the first time in days, felt like smiling. “Thanks, Dad.” He said and started to leave.
“Hey, James!” he heard his dad yell.
James turned around and looked back at his dad. “What?”
“Hang in there, son. Medical school is tough but you going to be a great doctor someday.”
This time, James did smile and waved to his dad. He found a place to sit and was soon lost in the comforting sounds of the ocean. He spent the afternoon just quietly thinking. After the crowds were gone James sat on the beach watching the sunset and listening to the sounds of the waves flushing away the daily debris from the crowds as well as from his mind and sighed contentedly.