appearances can be deceptive – edited
It’s been an up and down adrenaline tinged few weeks, the rush of passing the PADI Open water scuba instructor exams soon faded into a panic to look for work, something I resolutely refused to do before I had passed for fear of jinxing the result. We’ve enjoyed a very lovely and long holiday exploring the world and learning how to dive but now we need to get down to the business of earning our keep once again, eek!
Sadly it seems there are as many dodgy dive shops as respectable ones and jobs in respectable ones rarely come up as the staff appreciate their position and hold on to it. Like teaching anything the pay for being a scuba instructor is a pittance and working conditions are often shocking and hours ridiculously long, it’s definitely a lifestyle choice not a career one. But having experienced excellent dive shops with a great work ethic and full boats most days I know it simply doesn’t have to be that way for a company to thrive and that excellent dive shops run by excellent people are out there, thankfully!
The credo of in PADI we don’t say anything bad about other dive shops even if it’s true raised its ugly head again. I can’t quite get my head around the old boys’ club-ness of it all, it’s certainly a bizarre credo to have when speaking the truth about low standards would surely only promote higher ones and safety amongst professionals and dive shops but anyway.
My first job offer was in an ideal location in waters I know well and am excited to dive again, except they’d lost two divers resulting in their deaths because of their unsafe diving practices and simply changed their name and carried on with the unsafe diving practices…not adhering to well respected dive limits for the dive sites not consulting tide tables in an area known for its wicked currents, as it was I had to wait until some poor soul had to burst my happy bubble by telling me.
You are not badmouthing a dive shop if you are stating the facts…unsafe diving practices…no boat briefings…inadequate dive site briefings…no first aid kit or emergency oxygen…too many divers per guide for the conditions…staff not being paid for work they have done…unhygienic gear storage…these are not badmouthing, they are holding that dive shop up to PADI standards and letting other dive professionals and recreational divers make informed decisions about where they want to work and/or dive, sigh!
The next job offer was in waters new and unknown but well I got carried away, my innate over excitability had me shouting from the roof tops before all the facts had been gathered. They didn’t have nitrox, then offered to get it for me – very nice indeed. when asked about a work permit I was told to get a visa at the airport – so not the same thing, I don’t know my spidey senses were just tingling. Working without a visa seems common practice in the dive industry but not something I was willing to do in a country where working illegally ends in imprisonment. Decision to refuse made, an investigative minded friend also unearthed reports of them not paying staff and unhealthy conditions in the included apartment so a lucky escape all round it seems. Although they did come back and say they would get me a work permit they were so keen, by then the damage to our confidence had been done. The Middle East had never been in our plans and although we are sad not to be diving the Red Sea, we’re both happy we won’t need to be putting shoes on anytime soon 😉
So yesterday after a week of extraordinary highs and lows we mentally slapped ourselves out of a gentle depression we were sliding into and once again fully embraced the beauty that is Panglao. I really love this island, would love to live and work here, the people are so friendly, it is truly beautiful with great swaths of undeveloped greenery, the sun is wonderful, our little apartment homely and our neighbours welcoming and today is a new day.
We’re still incredibly lucky and we’re still on holiday until the 4th January and have almost three weeks in Bangkok with friends and family coming up before then and of course we have CHRISTMAS!! I’ll find a job, but not just any job, the right one, where the owners don’t think standards is a dirty word, where they work hard and have fun, where safety is paramount and smiles are the order of the day, I’m nothing if not a believer Xx
Ps. remember when choosing a dive shop that great reviews for a dive shop do not always a great dive shop make. Usually I discard the top and bottom reviews thinking the middle ones more accurately reflect whatever is being reviewed but in dive shops the two terrible ones may be more honest than all of the glowing ones thrilled at seeing a manta or a shark and oblivious that the equipment was old and faulty, that there should have been a briefing or that there was no first aid kit or that standards were ignored, buyer beware 😉