I both hated and loved my first job as a dive instructor. I hated the job because it was a diver-certifying factory – highly regimented and soulless. I loved the job because, since all the instructors were in the same boat, we found ways to entertain ourselves. To keep work from becoming monotonous we would play practical jokes on each other. We included the dive shop staff, resort staff, and even the clients in the pranks to keep things interesting. Here are some of the naughty things we did to entertain ourselves. These are mean, don't try them at home . . .
Chili Powder in the Regulator
One of the most lucrative courses for the big dive resort was the DSD (Discover Scuba Diving) Course. Tourists who had never considered scuba diving before would try diving in the pool and then sign up for a one day DSD course.
During the introductory speech, the instructor would demonstrate diving techniques with a scuba tank set up on the table in the classroom. If he left his tank unattended, one of us would sneak in and sprinkle chili powder into his diving regulator mouthpiece. The unknowing instructor would get to the part of the speech where he demonstrated for the wide-eyed, slightly frightened students how they would remove and replace their regulators underwater.
“It's easy,” he would say. “Just remove your reg, blow out small bubbles so that you do not hold your breath, and the put the regulator back in your mouth. Then, to remove any water in the regulator, you just push the purge button here and . . .”
At that point he would explode into tremendous hacking, wheezing, coughs. His eyes would be watering and he would not be able breathe for several seconds. The students would stare in horror until he explained the prank.
Potato Chips in the Booties
The dive instructor equipment room was located in a run-down, humid hut constructed of poles through which indigenous critters could easily creep. After finding several “friends,” such as cockroaches and small land crabs, hidden in my diving booties, the wisdom of shaking out my booties before shoving my feet into them became apparent.
The idea of hiding crunchy objects inside my friends' dive booties was a logical consequence of the traumatic experience of accidentally smashing cockroaches between my toes. We would sneak a few potato chips into the toe of an unsuspecting instructor's dive bootie and then wait in suspense to see if he remembered to check it before putting it on. The instructor's horrified gasp, accompanied by words better left to sailors, would send us all into fits of laughter.
If we really wanted to embarrass (or enrage) our fellow instructors, who spent afternoons and evenings traipsing around our sleepy beach town in flip-flops, we would put a few drops of food dye into an instructor's dive booties before a dive. We found it most effective to use different dye colors in each bootie.
After a dive, the instructor would remove his booties to find he had one blue foot and one red foot. Depending upon the instructor's disposition, he would either show up that afternoon in sneakers, or wear his colored feet proudly – while bad-mouthing his crazy friends at the dive shop to anyone who would listen.