So many people revert to the same fantasy when they’re bummed at work. They say something to the effect of… “I don’t know, maybe I’ll just go away to some tropical island somewhere and become a scuba instructor…”
I’ve had the thought myself. I’ve always been curious why we gravitate to that profession in particular, and then I met a scuba instructor, well, a scuba shop owner, actually.
He was by far the most chill guy I’ve ever met. He had to talk with his chin lifted so he could see you out of his half-closed eyes. His hair was bleach-blonde but he was about 60 or 70, judging by the wrinkles. And the wisdom.
From his dress and his attitude, I would have thought this guy was a stoner who drifted in from the beach — indeed he very well could be — but then I asked him about the goggles fogging up underwater and he dropped a science class on me.
And he wasn’t just smart. He was happy. When I asked a question, probably the same stupid question he gets every day from people going snorkeling for the first time, he laughed a real laugh, like he was actually amused; he opened his mouth wide enough for me to see the gold caps on his molars.
He truly didn’t care if I bought anything or not. I pointed this out and he said, “I want you to dive, man.”
And when I mentioned my wife used to dive, off Australia, he brightened up as if discovering the location of a missing person. “Bring her in, man. We have a meeting, a bunch of us, once a month.”
In the end, I gave him $10 for a week of snorkeling gear, actually 8 days. Whatever.
I know I will think of this guy when I’m enjoying the waters of Hawaii floating on the surface and looking down into another world that he lives in part-time. I’ll think of the scuba instructor closing his shop, walking off the beach into the waves, swimming around down there somewhere with the fishes, big smile on his face as his hair moves around in slow motion.
Maybe all of us are right. Maybe we should quit our jobs and just go to some tropical island and become a scuba instructor.
Or, maybe we should find a way to be like the scuba instructor in our own jobs: super knowledgable, amused, humble, eager to intoxicate people with what we know, and full of a secret we keep rediscovering deep down after we leave for the day.