Studly and I both have tons of vacation time, unfortunately we also have employers that put a clock on it: if you don’t use it by a certain day, you lose the time. We realized we were each at the maximum, so we started planning a vacation fast. Studly desperately wanted to go scuba diving on an island somewhere, but due to my passport troubles, our only options were the few US islands. Hawaii is our choice, and a few weekends before our trip I heard that a certain large sports store almost like a chalet (hint hint) hosted monthly intro to diving classes. Talk about good timing (or so I thought!).

We signed up and took a short drive to our local store, complete with pool. After filling out some forms, we were escorted into a small room to watch a short video on the basics of diving. The voice over was a cheerful Australian woman, but rather than focus on the extremely important points she spent the first third of the video telling us about the wonders of diving, how it will open a whole new world that most people will never see…on and on. I know lady, that’s why I’m taking the class, now tell me how NOT to die. On the back of our contracts agreeing not to sue the store in case of serious injury or death was a quiz. An illiterate idiot could have guessed the correct choices, but the ‘teacher’ (who had sat happily staring into space the entire movie) simply repeated the answers and then escorted us out of the training room.

We were instructed to grab masks and fins out of bins and I took a while since I had no idea about sizing and no one was there to assist. Then we all climbed into a small pool and were divided into two large groups. They placed our equipment on us and our ‘instructor’ told us he would demonstrate a skill and then one by one we would repeat it. Aside from the quick overview on the video, none of the equipment was explained to us. He told us to go on our knees under the water, I remembered on the video the woman said press the button to inflate and do…something to deflate the vest. Hmm. I was the only one still above water, so the instructor came back up to ask what was wrong. I explained and he said “Do this” and it looked like he simply pulled the hose. Ok, I can do that. So I tried and nothing happened. They ended up putting weights on me that made me sink like a rock.

It was hard to follow everything and during one of the exercises the instructor showed us how to clear a mask (remove water from it). When it was my turn, I added a bit of water and then cleared it. Apparently I hadn’t added enough, since the instructor then flooded my entire mask and I desperately tried to clear it, getting overly chlorinated water in my eyes. When it was Studly’s turn, the same thing happened and he panicked, going to the surface of the water. Since we were only in 4 feet of water, I stood up to see if he was OK. I made it just in time to hear Studly explain that the water had flooded his nose and the instructor to tell him he needed a custom made mask since he had an ‘oddly shaped face‘. Asshole.

At the end of the instruction the teacher kept signing something. Finally we gave up, since none of us had been told the sign and we all stood up. ‘You can swim around for a bit, in the shallow end only’ the instructor grumbled at us. How were we supposed to know what the sign meant? I tried to swim around, but the weights meant I sank to the bottom and had to work to stay a few inches off of the floor.

They asked us to inflate our vests and remove them, I desperately pushed the button but nothing happened. The instructor came over and showed me a different button to inflate it. “The one you were pushing was the deflate button.”

“Uh, there’s a deflate button?”

“Yeah, how were you deflating it?!” “Pulling the hose the buttons are attached to, that’s what it looked like you did.” With a disgusted look, he took my vest and I got out of the pool.

I was convinced that there was NO WAY I was going to scuba dive after that. If that’s what it’s like in a pool, how would I do under 50′ of water, in the open ocean with dangerous animals!?

They were lining up the vests and I thought about the saliva on my regulator so I asked one of the men pulling vests and air tanks out of the pool.

“Yeah, we wipe them off.” He said with a snicker. Four days later Studly had a bad cold which quickly jumped to me. That morphed into my current illness, I think that Intro to Diving class is the WORST idea I’ve ever had!

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