San Gabriel Valley

Fired 'Gangnam' lifeguard to El Monte: Please un-fire me

Swimming-pool-e1347825758742.jpgDaniel Surmenian loved his job as senior instructor lifeguard at the city of El Monte's pool. And he knows that most of the 1.4 million people who watched the YouTube video of El Monte lifeguards clowning around Gangnam style smiled. (The video samples the style of South Korean rap superstar Psy.) So he asks, what's the problem?

The city fired all 13 lifeguards who took part in this video.


From his piece at Zocalo's Nexus:

It hurt to be fired from a job that has been part of my life for most of the past eight years. But it was also strange. Pool employees have committed far worse offenses and just undergone a standard protocol of write-ups, suspensions, and so forth before being fired. In the video, we were doing what we do at the pool—having fun, engaging with each other and the wider world, and, in my view, reflecting the spirit of a fun, welcoming place for people of all ages.


Fortunately, I’m not the only one who seems to feel that way. The local community and even people from around the world have expressed support for us. Plus, of course, Psy. That’s been gratifying. And overwhelming. On Tuesday, those of us who were fired are going to appear before a meeting of the city council and have our case reviewed.

I still don’t understand why we were let go. Maybe it was just panic. Or maybe my supervisors were jealous about some of the sexy dance moves. Whatever it was, I hope City Hall comes to our rescue. If we get our jobs back, I promise to ask for permission to be involved in any future video tributes to Korean rap stars. Also, to my new friend Psy, should you ever be in El Monte’s aquatic center there’s a complimentary diving lesson with your name on it.

Photo: Zocalo Public Square


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