As far as careers go, shark wrestling has rarely been a strong recommendation from high school guidance counsellors.
Now Paul Marshallsea knows why. His first scuffle with a shark was also his last. Not that Jaws Jr. got the better of him (or the entirety of him, as can be the case when you tangle with a predator sporting a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth and a belly the size of your average overweight Canadian’s).
No, sir. Marshallsea, 62, is looking for work only because his former employer fired him. His offence? He and another man wrangled a 1.8-metre shark away from kids who were wading on an Australian beach –- while Marshallsea was on stress leave from his job in England. When the clip of his actions hit the Internet, his employer hit the roof. Apparently the old “if he’s healthy enough to wrestle a shark, he’s damn well healthy enough to shuffle papers” mentality isn’t dead, even in this era of an enlightened workplace.
This strange tale gets stranger still. Turns out the employer, Pant and Dowlais Boys and Girls Club, is a Welsh charity that was founded by Marshallsea and his wife Wendy (who also was on stress leave, and who was also sacked, presumably for aiding and abetting a rescue). Charity certainly does not begin at home here.
You want more? This club offers activities for children aged 6 to 18 – kinda similar to the demographic of swimmers who were within the shark’s range.
The club is being pretty quiet about all of this, other than to say its trustees had been dealing with a “range of issues” with Marshallsea, who went on stress leave in 2010. Can you say “power struggle,” boys and girls?
A judge most likely will, if this lands in court, where the media frenzy it stirs up will make sharks envious.
Marshallsea has his case ready. His wife’s doctor told the couple to take a vacation to lower their stress levels. The beach seemed like an ideal spot. And when a danger arose, he reacted.
But what will the club say? Was the dismissal warranted because Marshallsea is reckless? (He didn’t wait 20 minutes after eating before jumping into the water.) Or because his actions actually endangered everyone on the beach? (People — not sharks — are the biggest biters of other people, so he should have wrestled some kids out of the water to protect the others.)
Perhaps the club will call a few witnesses to criticize his actions, among them some of the adults who, when their precious quiet time at the beach gets disrupted by loud children, have secretly wished for a surprise shark visit (like many of us).
Marshallsea really can’t lose here. If a court sides with him, he’s got his job back and could use the settlement money to join the millionaires on Shark Tank. And if a judge backs the club, well, he can always make big bucks starring on Shark Week.
Those rewards may be enough to make high school guidance counsellors rethink their career recommendations.