A guy came in the bicycle shop the other day. We got to talking and it turns out we have something in common: We’re both Eagle Scouts, the high rank of the Boy Scouts of America. It got me to reminiscing.
To be an Eagle Scout one of the things you have to do is earn a number of merit badges; awards given for learning and demonstrating know-how about such things as camping, first aid and other neat stuff.
One of those is lifesaving; rescuing someone from drowning. I had earned all the required merit badges for the Eagle rank except for that one.
So while at Boy Scout summer camp I took a crash course in getting that badge. When the final test came to swim out and pull a struggling guy back to shore, I flunked. I nearly drowned in the tussle with the “victim.”
The sensation of almost drowning freaked me out. I didn’t want to go back in the water. But I wasn’t going to be stopped from being an Eagle Scout. Months later I started taking another lifesaving course.
One day I was telling my summer camp story to an older scout. He passed on a tid-bit of advice.
“When you go out and rescue the guy, fling your arm over his chest, reach under his arm and yank his armpit hairs. It surprises them and they’re all yours.” This was something they didn’t teach in class.
When test day came I swam out, sized up the struggling guy, got behind him, flung my arm around him and yanked his armpit hair hard.
The guy screamed and stopped fighting me.
I pulled him back to the side of the pool and was told I had passed.
I got my lifesaving merit badge and thus my Eagle rank.
But the dude I “rescued” gave me dirty looks for the rest of the day.