HELL IS OTHER DIVERS
I LIKE TO THINK OF MYSELF AS REASONABLY OPEN-MINDED, tolerant and friendly. Unfortunately when I'm diving I seem to fall victim to rampant xenophobic tendencies that wouldn't look out of place at a Referendum Party rally. It's those Other Divers! They're driving me crazy.
I hadn't realised what a dive bigot I had become until a trip to Scapa Flow last year. I was peacefully squeezing my way through those bar structures inside the Tabarka when another group of divers entered the same part of the wreck. Rolling my eyes at my buddy, I indicated that we should go elsewhere. They were bound to be a bunch of muppets who would kick up the viz and cause an obstruction.
They're not diving with us, so they must be rubbish.
Back on the boat, I had forgotten about the incident until my dive buddy confessed to the very same sentiment. "Why is it that when I see another group of divers under water, I always assume they're crap?" he asked, slightly embarrassed. The guilty secret was out!
Next day we dived the James Barrie - a trawler at 40m - and two boatloads of other divers turned up. I tried to banish the evil thoughts from my head, but it was impossible.
Their semi-drysuits irritated me: What! No drysuits? What kind of divers are these? Their cylinders annoyed me: A single 12 litre of air for a deco dive? Nutters!
Even the way they behaved on the shotline drove me to distraction: yo-yoing about, tugging the buoy under water, and thrashing their fins close to my face. They wouldn't bog off, so I bagged off.
Dive Rage - I really wouldn't recommend it. As I drifted past them on my trusty SMB, I was ranting into my mouthpiece. On a rebreather, words can be quite audible, but as ventriloquists have discovered, certain letters are hard to form when you can't move your lips.
"Plonkers!" I exclaimed, expelling my mouthpiece with the vicious force of my "P". Whoops! So that'll be me, dropping my reel and scrambling to retrieve my breathing loop while my buddy convulses with laughter. Who's the plonker now?
I stepped off the boat that evening vowing to get to the bottom of my attitude problem. My dive buddies provided some inspired insight.
Theory 1 - Fishbrain: Diving makes you think like a marine animal. If a seal comes across something unknown, it has three considerations: should I: A) eat it? B) fight it? or C) f*** it? If none of these apply, the seal gets bored and leaves. So when you come across a group of other divers (and you're not feeling hungry or horny) you instinctively feel aggressive.
Theory 2 - Airhead: We all walk around thinking hostile thoughts as part of normal life. When we're in air, there's a lot of other stuff going on to distract us - we're usually talking or being talked at. Under water, the brain is more focused and we can actually hear those evil thoughts.
Theory 3 - Italians: Italian divers behave outrageously, banging their tanks to get attention, walking on coral, routinely running out of air at 30m... on the boat they're loud; they sing and are unreasonably cheerful. When you come across unknown ie "foreign" divers, it evokes in you the horror of the Italians. AND they switched sides in WW2 so you know they can't be trusted!
Hmm. Unsurprisingly, the longer we stayed in the pub, the more sense Theory 3 seemed to make. Perhaps there is a grain of truth here, but it's about being English and behaving properly. Other divers are no more likely to be crap than the people in my dive group, but... I've been introduced to them, so they're OK.
If a diver ever swims up and politely shakes you by the hand, that'll be me. Please reciprocate; the alternative is dive knives at dawn.