I updated my Facebook status a while back, and a friend commented partially in jest that they thought my life was a ‘permanent vacation’. I’ve known this friend since I was 4, and while I knew she was kidding around a bit, the insinuation that my life is all sunshine and beaches still hurt. I work very hard to live the life that I do, and trust me, it’s no vacation.
Diving is a 365 day a year operation. The water is always wet, and always there. If you can dive it, chances are someone will want to. And if there’s no one diving today, you need to be in the office to make sure someone can book divers for tomorrow.
Most dive jobs are 6 days a week, some are more. I’ve worked up to 15-16 days in a row between days off. This is the norm. Since I left Vancouver over a year ago, I’ve probably had around 45 days off. In a YEAR. Please note: this is not VACATION TIME additional to ‘weekends’ (what are those??), this is IN TOTAL.
The average Canadian gets around 10-12 days vacation in a year, plus all the weekends and long weekends . . . that’s around 125-130 days off a year. I repeat, I’ve had 45.
I work harder and longer and more than the average person, in a place that is not my home, under seriously questionable management, with customers I can’t always communicate with. I take pictures of sun and sand and palm trees because these are the geographical features that have replaced rain and pavement and evergreen trees. I wear shorts and tank tops because I already sweat all day long, and to wear anything else would be suicide. My hair is bleached blonde by the sun because I spend so much time outside for work: I can only imagine what all that time is doing to my skin.
I chose this job because I love to dive, and working as a divemaster lets me do that almost every day. I get paid a pittance, have barely any savings, and can only take actual time off between contracts, which means that I’m not getting paid anything at all for those few weeks. My job comes with a lifestyle that generally includes a lot of sun and sand, and my main activity is something that most people only do on their days off or vacations. Just because I am with vacationERS doesn’t mean that I am also vacationING.
So, no. My life is not a permanent vacation. It’s nowhere near a permanent vacation. It’s a life just like anyone else’s life. I get up, I go to work, I come home. I pay bills, I clean my toilet, I cook dinner.
Sometimes, it can be magical. I’ve been to some truly fantastic places, and met some wonderful people, and had really great dives with complete strangers that I will remember forever. Those are the good days, and some seasons, almost every day is a good day! I’ve worked for some incredible managers, as part of a great team, in an amazing location where life just seemed that it couldn’t get any better. Unfortunately, you win some, you lose some. Palm trees do not instantly make a place great; sand doesn’t mean your manager will be competent; blue skies don’t ensure a team dynamic.
For me, this is the life I choose to live, just as you who are reading this make your own choices about the lives you choose to live. My life isn’t easy. It’s not easier to give up everything and move away, it’s not less complicated, but for me, those hardships and complications have been worth it, and so I will continue to live this life for the foreseeable future. And no, I’m not on vacation.