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I was fortunate enough to grow up on a pretty decent diving lake. I would wake up to my dad planning the weekend dives with his tables and trying to explain them to me. He had me convinced that the fish he speared tasted better than the others. Eventually I was old enough to join and we dove together just about every week during the spring and summer until he passed away. So diving has always just been part of my life and no big deal.
Recently I was on a trip in Kauai and was amazed how many ppl think diving is terrifying and a death sentence. I showed a few ppl at the resort some pics and they were all blown away at the beauty and uniqueness. Several expressed that the "wish"they could do it. I asked them why couldn't you? The answers were all very similar. "Its crazy", "i don't think I could do it", "its too dangerous". Etc....
A lot of my company was there for a business trip and the ppl that didn't know I was a diver were completely blown away. I'm just surprised at how the non diving public perceive diving.
After so many years at it, not really. I think I have heard it all, but...
I did get a new one a year back. A 13 year old was exposed to diving for his first time, and he liked it. His father mentioned to the boy that "his friend Doc" (me) was diving all the time. The kid responded, "But he's all crippled up and can't hardly walk!" His dad then reminded him that for that fleeting moment- he too was weightless and free from the bonds of gravity.
So, yes- even after all these years, I did learn something about the way we are perceived.
My wife tries very hard to keep her "professional work life" separated from her other pursuits. They would absolutely flip-out if they could understand how proficient she is with a handgun, much less her attitude on related subjects. I always ask her- How many people in your work day understand that you regularly stand waist deep in the Ocean, in total darkness, with 60# of metal strapped to you- and then solo dive out into that darkness?
Not many would even be able to conceptualize that- even some of her associates that are "certified" divers. I think some of them might have bungee jumped, zip lined, maybe even tandem skydived. Oh, boy.
Since I mostly shore dive, I commonly encounter that question from people. I love it when kids ask ... my standard response is "Oh, sharks and octopus and mermaids." You should see the look when that last item registers ...
If it's after the dive, I'll show them the pictures I just took on that dive. I sometimes get kids who want to try on gear or breathe off my reg ... it's always fun to let 'em.
Someday I want to go down to my local mudhole with a big-screen TV and just set up a picture show in the little paved area next to the dive site entrance ... just to let all the non-divers see why there's always divers going down there ...
It was just below freezing and snow was falling steadily. As we stepped toward that portal separating a cold and dreary world from the tranquility and wonder of another dimension teeming with life and color a passer-by shook his head and muttered "crazy". Poor fool. If he only knew. (Airsix)
I think the biggest reaction we get is when Debbie and I are shore diving at some locale where there are non-divers. This past February on Maui we (combined age 118, combined percentage of white hair 95%) enjoyed a day's diving at a site called "Old Airport," north of Lahaina. There weren't any other divers around that day, though usually there are a few. There is nice grassy park with covered pavilions and nice bathroom facilities there, including fresh water shower right by the beach. Lots of the people enjoying the park and beach (a great spot to go if you are West Maui, by the way) were at first amused that we though we would dive, then probably worried about us while we were out, and then very helpful in assisting us on exit (carry a dive flag, empty tank. etc.) Between dives we shared just-taken video with some of them and their kids. Turtles are always a big hit. We took leisurely surface intervals to drink some water and eat an apple or orange, and people became very interested. Debbie would get the best questions: Aren't you scared? I can't believe you dive- do you think I could? What's down there? (video response to this question is best) and my favorite, "How old were you when your started? (she was 49). The non-divers that day were typical: Their reaction is first to us, then to diving, then to the video, then they want to hear about equipment. Many express genuine interest, and we refer them to one of our favorite local shops on West Maui to try a discover scuba class or get information on certification. And we get to feel like celebrities for a few minutes. It's great fun, and nice to have a guy half my age tote gear to the car sometimes. Debbie doesn't mind either. If anyone out there has a friend or family member anxious about diving, have them check out the "about us" page on our website, scubasnobs.com. They might just conclude "If those guys can do it, I sure can!"
My wife doesn't understand why I like diving. I even brought her to the LDS, and she chatted with to owner for a while but just has the attitude of, "I can just put on a mask...and look around....all done". I finially got her to start going to the gym with me, now I'm just working on this one. She does, however, enjoy tanning on the beach/dock/whatever there is. The rest of my family thinks its suicide.
I think most people just like to scare themselves into being scared of diving. Others (which I find a lot more common) have heard scaredy cats and like a broken telephone misrepresent entire situation in their own minds. Considering associated costs it is not hard to understand why only a small fraction of world's population actually dives.
One of most frequently asked questions I get is about sharks. People assume that oceans have 9 bazillion sharks so that when you go into water they suddenly swarm all over you.
Another frequent question I get is about the cost. People think that scuba diving costs thousands of dollars and its out of their budget.
I am going through that exercise with my folks where I am certified, step father wants to get certified and mom is scaring my sisters. Since they all come down here about once or twice per year I figured out an easier way. I have a hookah setup that runs from a scuba tank and so far after few dive trips experience has been more or less positive.
Before I dived, I thought nothing of it. Thought it was as recreational as taking a hike through the mountains - just strap a tank on and swim around til you got no more air. Then I sat down for class and had quite an eye opener.
I'm quite surprised how many people appear nervous or afraid to try it when I talk about it. People always wanna know how deep, how long, if you can feel the pressure, what it feels like underwater, getting lost at sea, and SHARKS... but I'm not surprised they want to know that - as it seems like the next logical question - and I love answering, no matter how much it's asked!