Kristen Chapter #1: Orientation Meeting

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Published on 23.02.06 11:09 Age: 14 yrs

Letters : 8355 Words : 1403

By: Nemo

Kristen gets assigned to Black Knife beach

Kristen studied the card in her hand. The man at the front of the auditorium said, “The city provides lifeguard service at a number of locations—public beaches, neighborhood parks, the pool at the rehab center, and so on. They are all listed on the assignment card. Now, strange as it may seem, these are not all considered to be glamour assignments.” Most of the people in the auditorium laughed.

There were about two hundred people in the room, roughly equal numbers of men and women. They were an attractive bunch, all trim, fit and genial. Most were in their twenties. Kristen, who had just turned 18, was undoubtedly one of the youngest. She was almost giddy with excitement at being a member of this group. For years she had dreamed of becoming a lifeguard.

Kristen could have been one of the most popular girls at her high school. She had a sweet, lightly freckled face, and she wore her platinum blonde hair in a cute pageboy bob. She knew that the boys’ heads turned when she walked by. Clearly they admired her trim 5’5”, 110 lb. form. She had briefly worried that her breasts were too small, but when she noticed how the boys eyed her chest when they thought she wasn’t looking, she decided her breasts were just the right size.

But Kristen hadn’t enjoyed much of a social life in high school. While her friends had gone off to pursue typical teenage diversions, Kristen had spent most evenings in the gym, at the school pool, or in classes, working to develop the strength, stamina and skills that a lifeguard needs. Her hard work had paid off. This was the first day of her summer job—one of the city’s elite team of lifeguards.

The speaker at the front of the room raised one of the assignment cards high over his head. “Each of you has been granted points,” he continued, “based on seniority, past performance, and your scores on the tests.” Kristen had four points. As a rookie, she had no seniority or past performance, but she had done well on the lifeguard qualification tests.

“You can distribute these points any way you like to ‘score’ the locations on the assignment card. If there are some locations where you would particularly like to be assigned, use some or all of your points to give those locations a positive score. If there are some places you would particularly like to avoid, use your points to give those places a negative score. Most of you will still be assigned at random, but we do our best to honor everyone’s preferences.

“If you don’t like your assignment and can find someone willing to trade, you are welcome to do so. But all trades must be completed today, so everyone can be registered at their final location. Once your assignment has been registered, it’s final—you will work at your assigned location for the entire summer. If any of this is confusing, please trust me—the whole process is not nearly as simple as it sounds.” The audience laughed again.

Kristen pondered how to use her four points. She knew they wouldn’t be enough to get her one of the really choice assignments, but maybe she could still use them effectively. She gave the veterans rehab center and the senior citizen’s center scores of –2 points each. “God, I am so shallow,” she thought. Lifeguard was an important job, and veterans and senior citizens deserved protection as much as anyone. But she was an 18-year-old young woman, ready at last to begin enjoying life. She had been looking forward to getting a great suntan this summer, and maybe meeting some cute guys. “Maybe I can be noble next year,” she thought as she handed in her card.

The rest of the morning was spent filling out a seemingly endless succession of forms for taxes, insurance, a retirement fund and ten thousand other trivial demands of the bureaucracy.

At lunchtime, everyone went to down to the cafeteria together. The more experienced lifeguards mingled with the rookies, and entertained everyone with hilarious tales of pranks, practical jokes, and general tomfoolery from their own experiences in previous years, interspersed with sobering stories of tragedies and close calls. From time to time, someone would tell a short, simple story about a colleague’s heroism. It was obvious that while the lifeguards had a lot of fun on the job, when the going got tough, they worked hard, they were all business, and they were a team.

After lunch, they returned to the auditorium and watched a series of boring training videos about departmental rules and procedures, fire safety, sexual harassment, and the like. There was more paperwork, to document that everyone had seen and understood the videos. Each person received a stack of papers and booklets containing even more rules and regulations. As excited as she had been at the beginning of the day, Kristen’s enthusiasm was almost depleted by mid-afternoon.

“Are you still with us?” Kristen looked up into the dark penetrating gaze of the young man sitting next to her. He brushed his unruly jet-black hair back from his forehead and smiled. “It looked like you were starting to doze off,” he whispered.

Kristen shook her head and smiled shyly. “Sorry. It’s been kind of boring,” she said.

“Don’t worry, the boring stuff is almost over. I’ve been through this before.” He tapped the name tag on his chest. “My name’s Ted. It’s my third year. They’re about to announce our assignments.”

The man at the front of the auditorium spoke as if on cue. “Okay, everyone, we have your assignments!” Two clerks came forward and picked up stacks of manila envelopes and began to pass them out. An excited buzz filled the auditorium, broken occasionally by a little shout of joy or disappointment as each lifeguard received his or her assignment. The speaker raised his voice to make himself heard.

“Please note that the envelopes we are handing out include the combination for your locker. Don’t lose this! If you swap assignments with anyone, you must swap envelopes, and you must see the secretary outside the auditorium to register the change.”

“First day on the job is Monday. Everybody be there bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 6AM. Your uniforms and equipment will be ready for you then. If you are not familiar with the location of your assignment, please take some time this weekend and go there.”

The noise level was rising steadily. The speaker shouted, “Thank you for your attention. Congratulations to you all! Now, let’s have a great year!” A cheer rose from the entire group just as Kristen was handed her assignment envelope.

She eagerly read the assignment printed on the outside of the envelope. The Point Pleasant Recreation Center. “Rats,” she muttered involuntarily. She knew it well. It was only a few blocks from her parents’ home, but it was a kiddie pool, really. There was only one lifeguard on duty, so her chances of meeting a sexy male lifeguard seemed pretty dim, too.

“Point Pleasant? That’s not so bad, is it?” asked Ted.

Kristen blushed. “I suppose not… it’s just, um… not what I had in mind.”

“Well, maybe we can trade,” Ted said. He reached up and accepted his own assignment envelope from the clerk. “Oh—sorry.” He frowned. “It’s, um… it’s Black Knife Beach.”

“Still want to trade?” Kristen asked, holding up her own envelope.

“Really? You’re—you’re sure you don’t mind?”

“Not at all,” said Kristen, surprised that Ted would be willing to trade a beach assignment for a kiddie pool. Black Knife Beach was way out in the boondocks—but that meant it was far enough from her parents’ home that she could justify moving out and getting her own apartment. “Black Knife Beach. It’ll be great!” She smiled broadly.

Ted looked at her quizzically, then returned her smile. “Okay, if you’re sure.”

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