Black Strap: The Envy of the Guards

I’m just warning you, the title sounds way cooler than what this post actually is.

Basically, I’m a lifeguard. I’m assuming you all already know that. As such, we have a uniform: swimsuit in blue, black, or red, our lifeguard shirts, whistle, sunglasses, and the Guard+ fanny pack.

So, in our guard room, there is a definite hierarchy of fanny packs.

At the bottom of the line are the old fanny packs–they’re all red and fading, and the zippers are broken on at least half of them.

Next you’ve got the new fanny packs. They’re a brighter red, they’re shiny, and the zippers work, but the sizing is funky on the straps and they’re kind of an ugly shade of red. They’re alright, but they’re only second tier on this pyramid of fanny package.

The employee of the pay period (think employee of the month) gets to use the golden fanny pack, but that’s not actually the one everyone wants.

So, what does everyone want?

The black strap.

There is one–yes, only one–fanny pack with a black strap and buckle. It’s the perfect fanny pack–the red hasn’t faded, the zippers zip, it’s not the garish red of the new ones, and it has the black strap. It is universally acknowledged among our lifeguarding staff that the black strap is infinitely preferable, looks sleeker and more professional, and is coveted by all who aren’t wearing it.

This as it is, arguments just short of fights break out over who gets the black strap every time more than one person grabs it at once.

Typically, it’s whoever gets to it first, but sometimes there’s a tie, and it’s a bitter conflict between the guards who tied, often resulting in a cold-shouldered work day on the part of whoever didn’t get it.

This is how serious the black strap is, guys. It’s an invaluable piece of gear.

If you have the black strap, you win. We aren’t sure what, but you win it. There’s a silent, but acknowledged by all, air of respect. You’re wearing the black strap.

I haven’t gotten the black strap yet this summer–well, that was true yesterday.

Because this morning, when I walked into the guard room and over to the fanny packs, there it was. Hanging there, untouched, unworn.

I froze.

I glanced at the others in the guard room. No one had noticed yet. I looked back at the black strap. Yeah, it was really there. No one had put it on.

Completely silent, I grabbed it off its hook and strapped it on.

I nonchalantly helped with opening procedures, silently smug. I had gotten there first.

Then R came into work. I heard from the guard room, “Hey, who’s got the black strap?” R came outside and saw me. She saw the black strap.

She tried to act cool. “Heeey,” she said. “Wanna give me that fanny pack?”

HA! As if I was unaware of the merits of the black strap? Did she think me a fool?

I smiled. “Nah. Sorry.” I wasn’t sorry.

She sighed and grabbed a new one.

Today, the black strap was mine.


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