Raymond Seet, our dive instructor, is the Singapore embodiment of a “dude” – dark-skinned and constantly grinning, with the kind of impressively wild hairstyle that can only be achieved through years of salt water and wind exposure.
He led our group through the PADI theory class and the pool session – both of which I skipped, because I’d already passed the SSI version of these. I did show up for the final evening of quizzes and review sessions, and to finalise the itinerary for our trip to Malaysia.
As the de facto organiser and spokesman for our group of six, I was regularly tasked with extracting key information out of Raymond – when is the final exam?what time are we leaving? where are we going now?
Raymond has a way of evading even the simplest of questions. His favourite response seems to be, “um…later I tell you.” Sometimes he’d actually address my question, but always without answering it.
If I was sent to ask him, for example, the simple binary question, “are we paying for this meal, or are you paying for it?” I would return to our group scratching my head. “I think he said…”
This was sometimes frustrating but generally endeared him to us. The only time we lost our patience with him was during the harrowing death-ride to Mersing. All the vehicles on the road to Mersing drive rediculously fast for the road conditions, but Raymond seemed determined to be the fastest. He passed every other car, truck, van and motorcycle.
Ultimately, though, we were difficult customers, and we knew it. Raymond was very flexible and accommodating considering this. He worked around our schedules, provided us with door-to-door service for the entire learning process, and organised a really fun first dive trip – oil spills not withstanding.