The following are three stories written by friends of ours several years ago about the benefits of being a diving instructor. It's all in fun so we hope you enjoy the humor.
I awoke this morning to a world wreathed in dew and bird song. It used to rain a lot here, but since I got my PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor Certification, every day is blessed with clear skies and soft, warm breezes. My maid served a breakfast of Eggs Benedict, Brazilian coffee and fresh fruits carved into the shapes of mythical beasts. She used to serve me yesterday's left over rice, fried in rancid oil with a cup of weak Nescafe on the side, but after she saw my Dive Instructor's Diploma on the wall, she went out and earned herself a Cordon Bleu degree.
After breakfast I drove to town. I used to drive a six-year old Honda Dream motorcycle, but the very first student I taught in an Open Water course tipped me with a Lamborghini because he loved diving so much. I drove off and half way to town a police officer puled me over for going 135 km per hour in a school zone. He demanded to see my driving license, passport, visa, insurance sticker, registration, birth certificate and the results of a recent blood test. I flashed my PADI Instructor's card. The cop gave me a grin and wouldn't let me go until he had used his uniform shirt to clean my windshield.
I was in a hurry because I had to run a few errands before going to work, but luckily every traffic light turned green as I approached and there were convenient parking places in front of everywhere I had to go. It has been that way since getting my Instructor's card. At the grocery store everything was 90% off for Dive Instructors. At the Post Office I picked up a sheet of the Dive Instructor's Commemorative stamps (Free for Instructors) and at the clinic the doctor informed me that since becoming a certified Instructor I'd lost twenty pounds, my hair had become thicker and wavier, my teeth were whiter and more even, and the herpes on my lip that has bothered me since high school had gone into spontaneous remission. I thanked him, and he thanked me for allowing him to be my physician before tearing up the bill and offering me his only child in marriage.
I drove out of town, stopping briefly to take a look at the new Dive Instructor's Memorial being constructed in the traffic circle at the center of town. The mayor has promised that the statue will be completed in time for the unveiling on International Dive Instructor's Day, when it will be the rally point for the Dive Instructor's Day Parade. I won't get to attend, unfortunately, as I will be in Oslo accepting the Noble Prize For Diving, and then going on to New York to address that United Nations committee on What We Can Do To Make Life Easier For Dive Instructors.
I arrived at the pier and parked my car. Immediately a dozen local fishermen threw their naked bodies across it to protect it from the sun, promising to remain there until I returned. The liveaboard boat was purring like a kitten at the dock, my boat boys lined up on deck in clean white ducks and striped jerseys; to a man they were sober, sane and multi lingual. The guests were lined up as well, all the men rugged and handsome and all the women languid and demure. They had all memorized their books, studied their videos for weeks on end, and paid in full. Not a comp or barter deal in the bunch. The captain had scrubbed the boat stem to stern with a toothbrush, filled the tanks with diesel fuel and water, and painted my mother's name on the bow. Everything on deck was in its place and lashed down, the galley was bursting with food, and the local liquor distributor had given us cases of beer and scotch as a promotion.
I did a brief inspection, welcomed the guests on board and went up to the bridge. The captain gave me a brisk salute and offered me his log. I looked out of the transom and over a sea that was blue as a robin's egg and smooth as a baby's butt. The first mate kicked the idling engines a bit to let me hear their tune. I gazed off to the horizon, and beyond, and I said "Take us out, Mr. Sulu."
Yes, I have heard about the ozone layer, and I'm using the Super Shutout #77 sun block you sent me! Just yesterday, in fact, I lathered it on a new colleague named Inga who has legs so long that a sunburn would involve quite a bit of pain indeed, if you were to measure it by the inch.
Yes, I am looking after myself, and there are no more dangerous bugs around here than there are anywhere else, and maybe fewer. The only difference in my health is that I don't get colds any more. Oh yeah. I should also mention the drinks that tasted like lime juice. I have only been told this morning, too late, that they are called Kamikazes. This name I have to think, is an understatement, and must remember to pass along a postgraduate piece of advice for future IDC/IE candidates. Do not drink and dive, they know already. Do not drink Kamikazes and then plan to do anything for the next 24 hours may be a new one for them.
This morning I woke up hours, maybe even days too early. It wasn't enough that, as usual, a variety of colorful birds were creating a great hullabaloo outside my window, almost drowning out the sound of the surf, which was also annoying me more than somewhat. No, I had to also get this large palm frond crashing down on my roof and telling me to forget about sleep, it's up for another hard day at work.
Danger? You want to talk about threats to your little boy's life and limb? Mother, I can tell you about hazards you've never even dreamed of. Do you know how many people are killed by falling coconuts every year? I don't know either. But this morning I would have volunteered as a statistic. On my way to the dive shop I stopped to take a nap under a palm tree, hoping never to wake up, I tell you frankly. Not one coconut fell on me, sad to say, although Daeng the beach masseuse talked me into an hour of therapy, which made me feel better, but which also cost eight dollars.
In answer to your question, mother, I don't know for sure whether I've got a steady girlfriend or not. And no, if I got one she is not Thai. She's either Mexican or Danish--I think. Carmen the diving instructor from Mexico, with whom I thought I had something already going, showed one of the other IDC candidates, a former car dealer from Denver who is a Dork, my hammer claw shrimp in its burrow. This was the same shrimp that had been in this same spot for the past year at least, and it was something special just for her; and now the Dork from Denver was showing everybody my shrimp as though it were his own discovery. His and Carmen's. Yes mother, perils lurk hereabouts, but some of them have been imported from Denver.
And maybe from Denmark. If Carmen wants to play that game, I've promised to take Inga from Denmark, another new Instructor to the beach barbecue in Phi Phi Island next week.
Work is going fine, although I have a beginner student who has a fish phobia- why he wants to learn to dive I don't know--and I'm having trouble finding a good site for his open water training dives. And we've seen so many whale sharks this season that they bore me, I hate to admit. About the only thing that inspire awe in me these days are Inga's legs.
No Mother, I haven't been teasing the sharks. There's never been a diver bitten in this whole region, so don't worry. The main danger posed by sharks around here is from all the whale sharks we've been encountering. Our customers tend to push their bottom time to the limits, they're having so much fun. The manta rays are almost as bad.
I find that I'm brooding about this upcoming trip to San Francisco. Thai International Airways is having a Thailand tourism promotion and, somehow, I got elected to go on behalf of the local diving community. There's going to be me and 13 young umbrella painters from Chiang Mai, and each one of them, I have been told, would herself be a worthy subject for a painter of beautiful things. That's right, for some reason (maybe there is a god in heaven) your son the Sultan of smooth gets to introduce them to the US of A. And the Dork from Denver ( an argument on the other hand for atheism) got hold of this information and passed it on to Carmen, who then told Inga. It could be that the local ladies are to prove my ruination after all, just like you warned me, Mom. Although I'll no doubt learn to live with this. Probably things could be even worse, when I think about it.
By the way, I don't think you should leave dad if he goes ahead with his plan to take early retirement and do the IDC course out here. Why don't you come with him? You'd like it. Just avoid Dorks from Denver, if I can give you some advice for a change; and don't drink the Kamikazes.
Introducing new divers to the wonders of the undersea world is by far the most satisfying aspect of working in the diving field. Students and divers are amazed by the amount of marine life that you are able to show them. One of the more challenging jobs, however, can be dealing with the subject of (Don't say it! Don't say it!) ..... SHARKS!
Beginners tend to have an irrational fear of sharks until they actually see one swim by. This is not surprising considering the sensationalist movies that have been produced in the last 20 years or so about our friend the shark. These man-eating stories have made it tough for us diving educators.
On one hand, we want to promote the fact that sharks are wonderful to see and that we hopefully will see them during our diving trips. On the other hand, we don't want beginners to be frightened about their first dives. If we say "Sharks, sharks, sharks," we certainly will not be teaching too many new divers.
Student: "Yo Teach, what's the story with SHARKS?"
Instructor: "Ummmmm, errrr, weelll..." (Our instructors are quite well spoken.)
Student: "Well, have you ever seen one?"
Instructor: "We'll talk about that in your advanced course!"
Now, if you think you're going to have trouble handling normal sharks, just wait till you start talking about WHALE SHARKS. What is your beginning student going to say when she hears that we just may see a 12 METER SHARK THAT SWIMS RIGHT UP TO YOU!
Fortunately--or unfortunately, depending on your point of view--we've had to deal with this problem many times over the past few years as we've had more than our fair share of encounters with these gentle giants.
A couple of years ago, one of our nervous students, who will remain unnamed to avoid further embarrassment, had attempted to become certified several times and could not complete the course. She had problems students typically have with breathing, mask clearing, and her fear of, well...; you know. Her husband, being an exceptional liar (they've been married a long time), backed up our well-spoken instructors in saying that we would definitely NOT see sharks while diving here.
Just a few days later, after she finished her course with us, we were proven wrong.
While taking her advanced course during her first liveaboard dive trip, the student in question was cruising along at about 30 meters with Bent, our Norwegian Course Director. Looking back over his shoulder, Bent happened to notice a large object, bearing a striking resemblance to a train, approaching him rapidly with the apparent intent of making him a smaller meatball. Thinking fast on his fins, he soon realized that this "object" was actually a 14 meter whale shark, which unfortunately neutralized all effects of nitrogen narcosis that he was enjoying at the time. Our student on the other hand was so surprised that she literally jumped into Bent's arms! Now, jumping is a rather difficult--if not unnatural action to perform underwater. But since she was so good at it--and it didn't seem to bother the shark--she was complimented on her newly acquired skill. Fortunately for us, she was far too embarrassed--not to mention far too excited to remind us of our half-truths about shark sightings.
The problems we must deal with as diving professionals are just too numerous to talk about here! But seriously, for us, it's just knowing that when we wake up in the morning, we'll be diving instead of fighting traffic on the way to some stuffy office. Knowing this makes us feel that we can handle even the most difficult of problems such as learning the finer points of whale shark encounters.