A couple of years ago I was working as an instructor in underwater helicopter escape for the oil and gas industry. If you came on my course I would talk to you for a day and a half and then I’d put you in a big indoor pool and we’d swim into a helicopter module and have some fun. At least, I thought it was fun. Some of the participants viewed it rather differently.
Here is a stock photo from the internet of what it can look like.
I wasn’t one of the divers as they’re just there to grab you and get you to the surface fast if you have a problem. I was inside the module, facing the participants and watching their progress. Most of the time I knew that someone was going to have a problem even before they knew it themselves. You get used to spotting the signs.
During all of this I just held my breath as wearing bulky SCUBA gear inside a tight helicopter module is not a great idea. The other thing that I had to manage and hold was my bladder.
I have never peed in a pool. Not a single time in my life. The reason for that is that I was brought up to respect others. I was also taught to have consideration for the effect of your actions on other people. I also possess enough imagination to know that I don’t want other people peeing in the pool for me to swim in, so maybe it would be a good idea not to do it to them.
But what about the course participants, I hear you ask. Surely they’re all peeing in the pool? Not so fast, oh no, no, no. Do you see the brightly colored yellow suits that they’re wearing? Those are called dry-suits. So if you pee in a dry suit then the only person swimming in your pee is you.
Believe it or not I had to explain this to people. “Guys, this is a dry-suit. If no liquids can get in then no liquids can get out. Think about it.”
The group’s ability to collectively understand this concept was a reliable indication of how well they would go doing the underwater helicopter escape drills.
I’d been doing the job for a few years with the same colleagues when one day I had to stop a drill as I was just busting for a piss. My usual bladder management ability had failed me, and so I scrambled out, plodded down the stairs, and went to the bathroom where I performed the herculean task of extracting myself from my wetsuit in order to pee without getting it all over me. Then I zipped the wetsuit back up and headed back to the pool.
After the course had finished and the customers had left I went to give the other staff a hand to pack up the gear. One of the divers, who was also an instructor when I wasn’t available, asked me why I had got out of the pool to pee. I remember staring at him with a blank look on my face. He may as well have asked me why I sat down to take a dump. Recognizing my confusion he let me off the hook:
“Just pee in the pool, dude. Everyone else does.”
I grimaced. “No, they don’t”
“Yes, we do,” said every other staff member present.
It was one of those moments when your entire world-view shifts. There was my life when I assumed that everyone else was a responsible non pool-peer like myself, and then there was my life when I knew that there were at least two other guys in the pool with me who were quite happily emptying their bladders for me to swim around in underwater.
There was also an in-between time of sheer horror that lasted about four seconds as I digested this planar shift in my reality.
“The pool is full of chemicals, dude,” said my now quite disgusting colleague. “It’s what the chemicals are there for.”
“The chemicals are there for inconsiderate morons,” I said. “They’re not there for everyone to be inconsiderate morons on purpose.”
Everyone just laughed. They weren’t able to take any offense due to the fact that they all thought that it was absolutely hilarious that not only was I getting out of the pool to pee, but that I actually assumed that everyone else had my same self-control.
It’s an isolated example but it demonstrates the effect that controls and protections have on our lives. Instead of making people behave more responsibly, controls have the opposite effect.
Maybe some of you are reading this and wondering what the big deal is. People pee in the pool, that’s just the way it is. I disagree. It turns out that peeing in the pool even when there are lots of chemicals present is a bad idea.
“If this was just one person peeing in the pool, then clearly that would not be a problem,” says Ernest Blatchley, an environmental engineer at Purdue University. “But we have evidence to suggest that there are circumstances where the concentration of these compounds could, in some cases, or in fact have, reached the concentrations that are detrimental to human health.”
Because it’s not just one person peeing in the pool. Just about everyone is peeing in the pool under the erroneous assumption that the chemicals will deal with it, when in fact the chemicals are applied in dosages to protect against a small number of morons peeing in the pool.
I’m not going to lie: the way I viewed my colleagues completely changed on that day. These were guys that I had respected as industry professionals, who taught manly courses such as sea survival and confined space rescue on offshore oil rigs, and yet the entire time they had been peeing in the pool.
When I was in it.
You can’t come back from that. There is adult behavior and then there is self-centered moron behavior. And there is a clear demarcation line between the two. It is not just clear; it is lit up in flashing neon light with billboards the size of skyscrapers.
I had never for a moment considered that not peeing in the pool would need to be a trait of the modern man but perhaps it should be. After all, it is the things that are supposedly obvious that the immature have so much of a problem understanding. But if I went down that path then the list would be endless. If you can’t work out for yourself that peeing in the pool is bad for multiple reasons on multiple levels then you’re simply not an adult. You’re a kid-let.
If you’re reading this and you pee in the pool I have just one thing to say to you:
Oh, and stay the hell outta my pool.