In case you missed it, a Florida lifeguard was fired for saving a drowning swimmer. Huh?
Turns out, the swimmer was in an unguarded part of the beach, and the lifeguard left his own station to help with the rescue. It's a good rule to mind your own business and especially to not cause unintended harm by acts of intended benevolence.
[What if other swimmers in the protected area needed help? (Turns out other lifeguards had covered for him.) What if by saving the drowning man, the lifeguard creates a moral hazard and hence other swimmers start taking risks in unguarded parts of the beach, confident that lifeguards will come to rescue them? All valid arguments, but weak ones.]
Rules are made to be broken, and this was one such case.
Tommy Lopez, the young lifeguard, had more common sense than the beach contractor that fired him.
"I'm not going to put my job over helping someone. I'm going to do what I felt was right, and I did," Lopez said. Four other lifeguards resigned in support of Lopez, saying they would have done the same thing. Moral sentiments and virtue ethics to the rescue of wooden rules.
Belatedly, the contractor rescinded the firing and offered Lopez his job back. So far, he's refused. Would you want to work for this company that doesn't know the difference between basic right and wrong in these circumstances? Would you trust someone who hired you back only under public duress?
(I guess it worked for Teresa Sullivan and Helen Dragas…)