The REAL problem student (part 1)

October 6, 2013

Remember the first one, a few months ago?

Well, it turns out she was a piece of cake. Because last week, I met D.
The universe sometimes likes to have a little laugh I suppose. Therefore I shall also mention, so you can all laugh a bit, that it was the first week of going from over a pack of cigarettes a day to zero. None. Nada. Well nicotine substitutes don't count, they are nowhere as good. Day three, I think. Just to test my nerves, probably.
 

Back to my story: D. is a friend of one of our divemaster's trainees, and therefore wants to do his Open Water course with us. I get introduced to D. as my student...and it turns out pretty fast that he can't really speak proper English. So well, I decide to use his friend as a translator during the course, because even though you don't speak underwater, before doing so you need to talk quite a bit on the surface. Luckily, D. has done all his theory online so I don't have to worry about this. 

So day one, here we are in the pool. Usually, with one student, I can go through all the pool stuff within 2 to 3 hours depending on how comfy they are. Now, after over 4 hours this first day, we are far away from done. Another pretty important detail is that D. is very big. Which doesn't help him when it comes to buoyancy or skills because he is not very flexible or fit. And he is probably about twice my weight.

Of course, everything is taking ages to translate, so I cut all all the crap about "this is why we are doing this, just in case blablabla", just focus on "this is what we're going to do and how it's done, look at me". Still, the mask exercises take ages and are not done in a very convincing way, and despite the fact that he can swim, it turns out he cannot use a pair of fins. Bicycle kicks, as we say, just using knees to move his legs around with no other effect than going upside down most of the time. After over 4 hours, he is exhausted and I am about to have a nervous breakdown, so I call it a day.
 

Day two, getting ready to meet the ocean. Very difficult to read someone's mind when you don't understand a word of what they are saying and reciprocally, so I have no idea whether he is excited, nervous, stressed, etc. His "translator" keeps telling me he is OK, so off we go.
I think the word "disaster" is a bit of a understatement to describe this first dive. He cannot fin or stay even a bit horizontal, and this is where the words "be all over the place" make suddenly complete sense. I'm holding him the whole time while he is either trying to dislocate my shoulder by going up or attempting to take me at the bottom of the ocean with his weight. First time ever I use my BCD to move someone underwater, but my tiny fins and me kicking up all I can is just not enough. After 10 minutes I am tempted to put an end to our misery, but then a little voice in my head goes "remember, an open water dive has to be at least 20 minutes". Crap. Dive time: 21 minutes. I sucked down half a tank just trying to control him. This is not looking like it's going to work amazingly well. 
Back on the boat and where my translator is. I don't know what my face gives away but I feel like I have just witnessed something quite more dramatic than the last episode of "Friends". So I ask to make sure D. is OK, and I get that he was "a bit nervous but the fish are pretty". I don't quite know how he had time to glance at the fish while trying to kill us both. I remember him he has to do skills on the second dive, he stills wants to go. OK then, back in the water.
Since none of his diving skills could be any worse, I see a slight improvement in the fact that he tries to lay horizontal. It's more 45 degrees really, so I physically lift his legs up and try to move them to show him how to fin. And I still hold him for most of the dive because my explanations on buoyancy have apparently not been very successful. At some point during this dive, for the second time ever (the first one being my first manta ray ever) I actually cry a bit under my mask out of frustration or despair or both. At the end of the dive, I make him kneel down in about 6 meters of water to do the skills. All goes fine until we reach the mask flooding (fill your mask with water and clear it), he floods it...and try to escape to the surface while spitting his regulator out of his mouth. The whole thing lasts about 5 seconds while I put my fins on his knees and holds his BCD and put his regulator back in his mouth and try to lie backwards to balance his efforts to go up. He finally stops and calms down, we complete a safety stop and go up. And he smiles trying to tell me it was nice. REALLY??

And when we go back, I just don't know how to get him through the rest of the pool without trying to drown myself at the bottom of said pool.

How do you reckon this is going to end? To be continued...

 

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