Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Crude, Lifesaving Station

My Adaptation of “A Crude Lifesaving Station”by Theodore Wedel

Along a dangerous seacoast, shipwrecks often occurred. Grieved by the tragedies, a small group of people gathered together to establish a lifesaving station. They built a little hut, bought one small boat, and set out to save lives. They kept a constant watch over their coastline, and went out selflessly, day and night, to rescue those in need. This little lifesaving station became famous because they saved so many lives. Those whose lives were saved joined in the work, and folks came from all around the area to be a part of this noble project. They donated their money joyfully, gave of their time and effort willingly, and grew dramatically. They were able to purchase new boats and train new crews, so more people were saved than ever before.

Over time, though, some of the members of the lifesaving station became concerned that the hut was so crude and the equipment was so basic. They believed that a larger, better-equipped station would help them to accomplish their work more effectively. They built a large new station, replaced the emergency cots with comfortable beds, and filled their new station with functional furniture. In fact, the lifesaving station was now so nice and so comfortable that it became a popular gathering place for the members. They decorated and furnished the station exquisitely. They met and discussed the importance of lifesaving; they developed programs to teach their children about lifesaving. And they grieved together at how many ships were running aground.

But the members found that the maintenance and upkeep of the lifesaving station left them too busy and tired to go out on the boats. So, they hired crews to man the boats. Because the members still cared deeply about lifesaving, they held classes on lifesaving, sang songs about life saving, and gave demonstrations. All of the decorations in the station supported the lifesaving theme. They even had a large lifeboat at the front of the station as a constant reminder. Comfortable in their modern lifesaving station, and encouraged by the results of the professional lifesaving teams, the people felt good about themselves and more people continued to become a part of their lifesaving club. Every now and again a dispute would arise about which brand of boats was better for lifesaving, or about certain techniques and methods for the crews, but the lifesaving club continued to promote the concept of lifesaving.

Then, one day, a crisis came. A large ship foundered off the coast, and the hired crews made an heroic rescue. They brought boatloads of cold, wet, dirty, half-drowned folks into the lifesaving station. As you can imagine, the beautiful new lifesaving station was thrown into chaos. The rescued people made an absolute mess of the place. They dripped mud and water everywhere, soiled the sheets of the beds, and left the place smelling like dead fish. There were children who did not behave well and a few young people who did not show proper respect for the beautiful lifesaving club. Most of those rescued were foreigners, not of the same social standing as those in the lifesaving club. A few members were offended and vowed never to return.

So, the life-saving club did the only thing it could. They set up a shower-house outside the station. They mandated that rescued people must wash up and put on clean, proper clothes before they were allowed to enter the clubhouse. At the next club meeting, a sharp division occurred. Some members felt as if the lifesaving should be stopped, as it was so unsavory, disruptive to the club, and destructive to the station. Some of the original members and a few that had been rescued in the early days argued that they could not abandon their lifesaving purpose. Eventually, the majority won out and the lifesaving operations were suspended for the good of the club.

A few folks still believed in lifesaving, so they went down the beach and established a new lifesaving station. They did not have the money for a fancy clubhouse, so they erected a tiny, crude lifesaving station with one old boat. But many lives were saved. Soon, people began to join with them, excited about saving lives. They trained volunteer crews to save lives off the coast. The task quickly grew beyond their ability, and they hired the crews from the old lifesaving station and put them back to work. Some of the members began to wonder why the old lifesaving club had such nice accommodations, while theirs were so sparse. So, they erected a new lifesaving station. Eventually, like the first, they suspended lifesaving operations for the good of the club. A small group split from them and started a new lifesaving station, small and humble, farther down the beach.

Over and over again, the process repeated itself. Today, if you go to that place, you will find the coastline populated with large, ornate, beautiful lifesaving stations but the shore is littered with the bodies of those who have drowned.

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