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The Power of Voodoo

I am not a superstitious person. Despite my affinity for tarot cards I don't believe in divination. I don't think there's anything particularly enchanted about fairy circles. And I certainly don't believe that any one of the untold legion of gods throughout history are any more real than any of the others.


Just not a very mystical person, I suppose.


But there are three superstitions to which I hold fast:


1) I ALWAYS spit in my mask twice.


I think it's because I used to use two window masks before I found a frameless that fit. But it's just become such an entrenched habit over the years that it makes me deeply uncomfortable not to do so.


I'm convinced it's the second spit that REALLY keeps the mask from fogging.


2) No bananas on a boat.


Nope, not ever. Used to think it was hogwash. Until working on a boat day-in-day-out for years. And every single fucking time the day was going completely pear-shaped, you'd turn to see some hapless goon peeling the banana they brought with them from the breakfast buffet.


Got to where, when we were having such a day you could ask, "Who has the banana?" And someone would sheepishly produce one from their dry-bag.


So no bananas on boats. As far as I'm concerned... that's not superstition, it's just science we don't yet understand. Someone should get a grant to study it.


3) Bad things happen in threes.


This last one isn't about exact numbers, really. Sure, maybe it's the very first failure that ruins the day. Maybe you could wade across a battlefield of failures and make it through the whole dive -- without having had any fun, though. It's mostly about how much one is willing to tolerate, in terms of failures, before something like a dive day is simply no longer worth it.


I tend to tolerate only a single minor-borderline major failure. The second one usually earns my thumb. Because I don't want to find out if there's a third round in the chamber. Or, if there is, I'd rather find out what it is on my way home instead of even further FROM home.


Today we got to give that third superstition an airing.


About to start the pre-dive for our second scooter run of the day, a buckle-pin on my student's mask broke. It's an old mask, apparently, and not exactly a catastrophe. His spare mask had a foggy lens and my spare mask wasn't a ton better.


But he decided to do the, "keep a tablespoon of water in there and use it as windshield wiper fluid" trick for the dive. It wasn't going to be a long dive anyway.


It wasn't a long dive.


At about minute 15 he signalled for my attention. When I turned he showed me a piece of string. Maybe four inches long. A piece of 2mm, black, static cord.


"Where in the hell did he get that?" I thought, "And why did he think I'd want to see it?" But as he started to pivot his body to show me his left hip I immediately knew...


The hip-dump of his wing. The pull-string had pulled clean out of it.


As I readied my thumb for deployment he was already turning back to face me. With his thumb fully deployed.


He had little problem controlling his buoyancy all the way back to the stairs using his shoulder power inflator. But, safely back on the surface without anything else having gone wrong, he explicitly echoed my belief that two failures is enough for a day.


So we came home. Fixed the wing. Torched the mask. And made plans for tomorrow.

In some other universe, he and I decided to push through it. And learned what failure three was when we made it all the way to an airdome 2000 feet downstream... And we both had a catastrophic gas loss at the same time.


Someone let the rescue teams in that universe know that we're still sitting there (uncomfortably, because the floor is covered in stalagmites). Let them know to bring cookies or something. Obviously tanks to get us out, too. But it's been hours and we're hungry.


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