Don't assume

Lifeguards, 7-Eleven, and a lemonade stand. Also, 7 other things worth your time.

My wife and daughter and I spent Father’s Day at the beach yesterday. It was a really great time, and I needed it.

But let me ask: Are there are any other former lifeguards on this list?

This was my go-to job during high school and college summers (perhaps to my future dermatologists’ chagrin, although so far I’ve been lucky). And, there are some habits from back then that are hard to break.

For example, whenever I go to the beach now, all these [censored] years later, I’ll catch myself automatically checking out the lifeguards’ setup. (The guards on the Jersey Shore were pretty squared away. Nobody drowned, at least.)

Also, back then, I got certified to teach the Red Cross lifeguard, CPR and first aid classes, so that I could become a captain of the lifeguards—basically, make more money, and not have to sit in a chair all day.

In the classes, they emphasized that a lot of people who died in accidents, or from cardiac arrest, might have survived—except that every bystander assumed that some other bystander would call 9-1-1.

So, that created another habit—basically not assuming. For example, in about 2000 or 2001, I was in a 7-Eleven in Washington D.C. late one night, when it was robbed. A bunch of us ran out the door while the guy trying to rob the place was tussling with the clerk.

As I got across the parking lot, I thought, two things: First, hmmm, maybe I should have helped the clerk. And second, I’ll bet everyone else assumes someone else will call the cops.

So, I called. I remember being shocked that the first police arrived within less than a minute.

Another time, maybe a decade ago, a friend and I were walking down the street when a young woman collapsed suddenly on the sidewalk. I ran over, called an ambulance, and stuck with her. (I know I was thinking about the lifeguard thing then, because my friend laughed at how quickly I ran over, so I told him.)

The woman had a seizure, but she was OK; in fact, I wound up going on a date with her later. Fortunately, it didn’t amount to anything. (See above, about me going to the beach with my wife and my daughter; obviously it was long before my wife and I got together).

Anyway, my mind has been meandering like this tonight because of something Patrick Skinner shared over the weekend.

You remember him: the CIA guy turned Savannah cop I wrote about a few weeks ago. He wrote about twin 7-year-olds down the street from his house, who set up a lemonade stand.

Rite of passage, right? Plus, who knows, but I always think that kids who run lemonade stands are more likely to grow up and run businesses.

You can guess what happened though, given that it’s Skinner telling the story on Twitter. An uptight neighbor showed up and started complaining and asking whether they had a business license.

I should mention that the kids are are black and the interrogating neighbor was white; the kids’ parents think it was racially motivated but I wasn’t there so I can’t say.

But, I do know there’s a happy ending, in that the parents apparently said, fine, we’ll call your bluff—and they paid whatever they had to pay to the city to get the kids a business license.

Then, the whole thing went quasi-viral, at least locally, and the kids wound up with a much more robust lemonade stand than they would had otherwise.

Anyway, there’s a lot going on this week. And I’m sitting on my back deck Sunday night, still smelling like sunscreen, trying to find just one or two good points to make in a world that seems like it’s off its axes.

So, I’ll channel what Skinner, the cop, had to say about the lemonade stand story.

Because sometimes there’s an armed robbery or a medical emergency and it makes sense to call for help. But, other times, as I’m sure you’ll agree — sometimes, it’s better to handle your problems yourself.

Sometimes, you realize, they’re not even really problems.

“Just to be clear,” Skinner wrote, “an adult drove by and saw these young twin sisters selling lemonade, and her first reaction was to complain and ask about their biz license. Angry and bitter is a bad way to go through life. Don’t be that person.”

7 other things worth your time

  • This is something: Malala Yousafzai, a human rights activist who was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2014 after being attacked by the Taliban for being a girl going to school, completed her exams at Oxford University. (BBC)

  • Did teens on TikTok troll the Trump campaign by registering for tickets to the rally in Oklahoma, with (obviously) no intention of going? President Trump is reportedly “furious” at the “underwhelming” crowd size. Meanwhile, pirated copies of John Bolton’s book are available for free on the Internet, and Bolton, who was national security advisor less than a year ago, says he hopes Trump isn’t reelected. (NBC News, Bloomberg, AP, ABC News)

  • How Elon Musk and Steve Jobs embraced “awkward silence.” (Good observations by my colleague Justin Bariso.) (

  • Is Covid-19 over? The WHO reports worldwide records, a dozen states have set their own records for the most daily cases since Friday, and a U.S. infectious disease researcher expects a “forest fire of cases” and no let up this summer. (Bloomberg)

  • Kind of funny: Here’s a primitive video game Bill Gates wrote in 1981. This was right around the time Microsoft went public, so he was about 26, but he was also already worth millions. So, a spare time thing. (CNBC)

  • The world’s largest jeweler says it will use only recycled gold and silver by 2025, and one of its big sources will be old electronics. (Fast Company)

  • I've tried rewriting this three times so it doesn’t sound tabloid-y, but it’s really heartwarming and interesting, so we’ll just quote from the article itself: “When Terri Herrington's husband Bryan died 16 years ago, he saved the lives of four other people through organ donation. She befriended Jeffrey Granger, who received Bryan's kidney and pancreas. When that kidney failed last year, Terri immediately volunteered to donate her own kidney, which is now living on with Bryan's organs in Jeff.” (CNN)

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