Full-Contact Management

14 May

We have Doc McGhee, the rock ‘n’ roll svengali who kept Motley Crue, Jon Bon Jovi and Kiss on the road, to thank for the term full-contact management. That’s punching people…

Now, I’ve been considering training as a scuba instructor over the next year or so. It seems like a nice lifestyle, a good string to one’s bow, relatively stress-free, combines easily with other occupations, and the like.

Sure, I’m not the best diver in the world. But compared to earning the money required to spend a lot of time underwater, acquiring a profession which gives you free diving and free time in which to do other things makes a lot of sense from where I’m at now. (Z considers it a “cool job”.)

Then I met Matt…

Matt is from Hawaii by way of Minnesota and a few other places. He’s an amiable, laidback mid-Westerner with a Celtic colouring, somewhere in his mid-20s, teaching scuba by day and bartending by night.

We are in Coron Bay, the Philippines, hanging out after diving some of the monster wrecks out there, and he is running through advanced diver’s sign language (inventively obscene but still highly intuitive).

Then he says, “Of course, as an instructor, you sometimes have to punch your students.”

“Punch your students?” I say. Matt seems so sweet and laid-back, I can’t imagine him punching anyone, though he does have that bartender evil streak.

“Yeah,” he says.

“Who have you punched?” I ask.

“Well,” he says, and gestures to the German couple he taught Rescue Diving a year or so ago, with whom he is holidaying this year. “There was STEVEN.”

They nod, in shared recollection.

“Who was Steven?” Z asks. “What did he do?”

“OK,” he says. “Steven is this big, fat, gay — not that that’s a problem — Irish guy. He was on the rescue diving course where I met these guys. He had a job offer from the resort on the basis of this course. So I thought he’d pay attention.”

“OK,” I say.

“Well,” he says. “We’re doing this exercise where I’m a drowning diver, he has to get out of all his gear, get me all out of my gear, and do a swap. Like I say, he’s not been paying attention. So when he leaves me face down in the water, I’m not overly concerned. I lie there for a while, thinking, come on, I’m face down, he’s got to figure this out, he’s going to figure this out. Then, ‘Nope,’ I think, ‘He’s not,’ so I look up. Just in time to see the top of his head going below the surface.”

“Christ!” I say. “What happened?”

“Well,” says Matt. “He stripped off all my gear. Then he took off all his. Apart from his weights.”

Faces round the table begin to fall in astonishment. “Yep. He’s a big guy, too,” says Matt. “So he’s got around 18 kilos of weights on him. And he’s in panic. So he’s sinking. Flailing.”

“Can’t he take them off?” I ask.

“No,” says Matt. “He’s panicking. Blind panic. He can’t think. He’s going down. No fins. No mask, no snorkel, no regulator. Nothing. And lashing out. So I go down — and I have nothing, no fins, no snorkel, no mask, no air, no BCD — and try and get the weights off him. I can’t see, because I have no mask. And he’s flailing around, going down, down, down, pushing me off him, and I have no fins to keep him up.”

“Jesus!” I say. “How deep was the water?”

Matt turns to the German guys. “How deep was it?” They don’t know. “Let me think. It was a dropoff in Utila, Honduras. Maybe 50 metres, 60 metres, straight down.”

I try and envisage this guy sinking — like the proverbial stone. To certain death. “So I get the weights off him,” he says. “Somehow. I don’t know how I did it, still. When he surfaces, I punch him, right in the face. And, let’s put it this way, he didn’t get the job, but he listened REAL hard after that.”

There are more, as well. The guy who, twelve metres below the surface, decided he’d had enough, spat out his regulator, inhaled a big lungful of air and headed for the surface.

“There,” says Matt, reflectively, “You have to hit someone in the stomach. Basically, they surface with some water in their lungs, they’re gonna cough a bit but they’re gonna be OK. They surface with a big lungful of air expanded to double its size, and they’re toast.”

Or Matt’s buddy’s anti-star pupil. The guy who — and it’s always guys, for some reason — ran out of air at 30m down. “Using too much air and not checking his SPG,” says Matt. So he solved it in the only way he thought he could. Snatching the regulator out of his instructor’s mouth (knocking off his mask and blinding him in the process), then trying to head for the surface.

“Jesus!” I say. “What do you do in those circumstances?”

“You grab them. Fin downwards to slow their ascent, breathe from your alternate air source once you’ve found it,” says Matt. “Oh yeah. And when you get to surface, you punch them in the face.”

Full-contact management at its finest. Doc McGhee would be proud…

2 Responses to “Full-Contact Management”

  1. jessiev May 15, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    i am LOVING it. matt! what a great set of stories…

    • MummyT May 16, 2010 at 9:49 am #

      Such a sweet boy to look at him. You really wouldn’t have thunk it…

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