That must have been the professionalism that Jeff Ellis & Associates wanted Tomas Lopez to demonstrate when he was approached by a person asking the lifeguard for assistance on behalf of a drowning man, in Hallandale Beach, FL. Unfortunately (I guess…) Tomas didn’t “toe the company line.” Instead he fell victim to compassion and a sense of higher duty, and left his post to rescue a drowning man.
In thanksgiving for his heroism, his Orlando-based employer fired him. His offense, he chose to rescue a vulnerable man and left his employer vulnerable to law suits. As his supervisor, Susan Ellis told the SunSentinel, “We have liability issues and can’t go out of the protected area. What he did was his own decision. He knew the company rules and did what he thought he needed to do.”
In other words, Tomas Lopez should have told those requesting help: “Sorry he’s drowning, but saving him isn’t in my job description.”
Thankfully, Lopez broke that rule and did the right thing. Now because of the public relations disaster facing Jeff Ellis and Associates, and the potential loss of clientele (including Disney’s brand new Aulani resort in Hawaii), the company has offered Lopez his job back. Seems like the very money they fired Lopez in effort to protect, will still be lost. Hmmm…God has a funny sense of humor.
In thinking of this strange story, I reflect upon the parable of the Good Samaritan. When others of stature within the community, who were able to help, preferred to obey their rules rather than to do the right thing, Jesus held up a despised Samaritan as a model of the Christian Ethic. Despite not being one who adhered to the Law of Moses, it was the Samaritan who would inherit eternal life…not the priest, neither the Temple assistant.
I’ve recorded a brief video mediation surrounding this event.
When presented alongside the story of this lifeguard, the parable confronts us. As odd as this event may seem, it still provides some lessons for us. What would you have done?
It’s easy to say that we would have chosen to save the drowning man over preserving our jobs. But, I’m sure we’ve all had times on our own jobs where we could have helped – should have helped – but responded: “Sorry…but doing that isn’t in my job description.” Have you ever said that? What was the situation?
When we respond that way, what would Jesus say to us? In this situation, what would Jesus say to Tomas Lopez? Surely, someone in management within Jeff Ellis & Associates would profess themselves to be Christian. What would Jesus say about this company’s response? What do you think of the response?