As a diver, I travel a lot – around 25 weeks a year. I am in and out of airports, hotels, resorts, buses, taxis, planes and dive boats almost half the year. At any moment in the summer, I can be surrounded by thousands of people in an airport with millions of travellers heading all over the world. I’ve been doing this sort of travelling for at least 12 years now, and as a diver you better get used to being delayed quickly.
All I can say is ‘enjoy the journey, damn it’. Enjoy the salty nuts, the $7 beers and uncomfortable coach seats, because 99 percent of the time, you will get to your dive destination. In fact, during all these years of traveling around the globe, I have never missed a single destination, ever.
That’s right, whether it be Indonesia, Palau, Philippines or Grand Cayman, I have always arrived to go diving. Has there been a few close calls? Yes, indeed. Was I delayed? Completely, but not by much, maybe a few hours, many even a day. Have I missed a bag or two? Yep, but those heavy bags always show up in a day or two anyway.
Now, if anything happens out of my control, like if a plane has mechanical issues, I think, thank god they caught the problem before the broken plane was up in the air. If my bags get delayed, I use it as an excuse to buy new clothes. Plus, I pack my dive gear so I can always go diving. But this isn’t just simply about making lemonade out of lemons. You also need to remember we are all on this dive journey together.
I was once on a flight heading back home from Atlanta and for the first time in all my years of travelling, the airline delayed its take-off because a group, about ten or so, of our fellow travellers were late to the gate.
I thought, wow, an airline is doing the right thing, so these poor souls don’t miss their flight, so they can get home and see their wives, children and maybe not miss a day of work. But other people already on the plane didn’t think this was such a great idea.
In fact, I can sadly report that most people already sitting in their seats were extremely unhappy (NB: Please note, I have deleted unpublishable words spoken and yelled in the heat of the moment).
“We were delayed a month ago and they left us standing at the gate. Who the hell are these people, anyway?”
“Let them miss their damn flight, it happens to me all the time.”
“I bet it’s some pilot that will end up sitting in first class.”
I sat quietly amazed how happy these same people would have been if the airline in their time of need would have done the right thing for them. But when you’re only worried about getting to your place, in your time, you lose track that we are all connected in this long dive journey.
Too be honest, I think it's a miracle any of us get to any of our dive destinations at all. Just stop and think of how many millions of travel employees work in this organised chaos; from the ticket agents, mechanics, pilots, stewards, baggage claim, air traffic controllers and yes, even everyone’s favorite, the TSA.
It’s a miracle— because while we are dive dreaming of the giant oceanic manta flying inches from our masks in the Socorro Islands, they are all praying for no hurricanes, no blizzards or even a big flock of birds to add more tension to their already stressful jobs.
So just remember to sit back and enjoy the journey with a big inner Zen smile – some people would rather you be upset with them by the way, but keep the smile to yourself and think about your next dive.