The inspiration was a short discussion about a video clip posted on the forum in order to dig out what went wrong as I understood. I have to add that it was all about WS jumps, in which I have no practical experience Ė Iíve done it few times and somehow it did not attract me.
My remarks, although Iíve presented them moderately diplomatically, probably disturbed the jumper who not just published the video to discuss, but heíd recorded it as well, so the comments concerned himself.
So I was asked for the number of my WS jumps and who trained me and I immediately knew that the riposte would begin with an indication of the incompatibility of my comments, as I had less experience and had been trained by less known instructors.
I understand that because I see it all around. This reaction is very common and very harmful to young jumpers. I wouldnít pull my chest hair because of that as I do my own job, especially when I'm encouraged to do so on the forum.
The fact that I am not a WS fan doesnít mean that I do not learn and do not seek information. I'm learning all the time, because all the jumpers share one sky and as a jump master I want to understand what I do. I do not fly "corners", I do not free-fly but it doesnít necessarily mean that I do not talk to dab hands experienced in these matters. I do analyse accidents, watch videos, consult - I just have such a fixation for so many years, so if someone personally doesnít call me dickhead, build their own career or build their ego, then the rest of the replies I treat as normal human reactions and as a broad discussion about given subject.
However, Iím coming back to this virus, which is harming our society in a rather insidious way, which has many mutations but also has a common denominator - The Number, namely: the current number of jumps.
Here I want to add, that as the owner of pretty substantial number myself, I think that it is not very important and I can afford that way of thinking, and even more - if I have ĄThe NumberĒ already and itís not important in my opinion then it should be even more convincing for young jumpers.
Regardless of the number of jumps, everyone has a gift of life and everyone is a threat to other jumpers.
That's true. It's not a Number what counts. What counts is the awareness of many interdependencies between jumpers, pilots, ground crew etc. There we are only one cog in a wheel. We are never suspended in a vacuum, we never have freedom. Mutual respect and communication is the cornerstone of mutual security.
If someone does not respect others, it is hard to change it. The problem lies within himself and is based on a decreased self-esteem. So on the outside, there will be built the image of a self-confident prick, or a mysterious like "donít touch me" loner. It's more about self-improvement than mutual safety.
At the same time the communication is relatively easy to rebuild.
First the story:
A couple of years ago, in Seville, there was a candidate for a free-fly coach. Pretty antipathetic young man, whose body language showed the "DILIGAF?" type attitude and it was not just towards young jumpers but also the instructors of the drop zone. Ha waited as a whale until plankton would fall into his mouth and he would shine with his flying skills as a coach. However, he was told that as a crewmember of the zone, he also had to perform other more mundane functions, such as discuss landing mistakes in order to maintain the level of security of the zone. So he crawled to the landing zone and started to work. I was caught in his sights as one of the first. Just after my landing, I helped the student on the radio and I was picking up my equipment when he started tutoring me. I was a little surprised as I felt that this was about a mistake Iíd made, nevertheless I listened carefully. During the explanation I understood that he confused me with my student because we wore the suits alike. However I did not interrupt, because I was interested in how he would explain the error, which actually my student committed indeed as a complete novice. I listened to the end, thanked and said that I would pass it on to my student. At no point did I want to stop him and say he had not enough jumps to instruct me. Because it would be disrespectful and it would be the very virus that is consuming skydiving.
I'm convinced that the mentioned jumper reaction which contributed to this post (I thank him for that again) was due to duplication of a certain pattern. He had to be treated probably the same way in the past by other jumpers. Restrained, blocked or ignored because he did not have the proper authority to present his opinion. Our learning process relies heavily on imitation. This particularly applies to social behaviour, action within the group.
So let us think, because each of us jumpers was (or actually is) a young jumper: how many jumps and what qualification you need to be heard by others?
Please see that just asking this question shows its absurdity. You cannot set any such limit, there always be those who have more and those who have less jumps. So we should walk with some counter placed on the chest, which presents number of our jumps, the number of years in sport, and the names of the important instructors who taught us. Only then we would know whether we are allowed to say or not.
It's a blind and sick way.
Even a little experienced jumper can add a lot to a safety of a much more experienced one, if only because he presents a completely different perspective. If the opinion expressed is illusory and in fact false, the explanation from the experienced jumper will be understandable and very positive response. There will be communication, there will be exchange of experiences that will flow either from the younger one, who has noticed something aptly and "old dog" can make an adjustment in his behaviour, or "old dog" will explain the freshman that the matters are a little different than he thought.
Is it so difficult?
Well, yes and no. My optimism is somehow limited. I donít believe too much in the "old dogs". They are encased in their views, often have a wooden head additionally wrapped in golden plate by ĄThe NumberĒ. Especially if over the years instead of constantly learning, they just chased the digits.
The lack of knowledge combined with the lack of communication skills leads to unpleasant conflicts in the face of a valid question from the freshman.
Who of us did not hear something like: You donít know, you donít know! Tough life! You will never know than! How the f... did you pass the theory?
This is a clear sign that the respondent does not know what to say or knows the answer but does not know how to explain it, so he prefers to protect himself for the future to avoid further problematic questions. And the freshman already knows that when he becomes old dog, he will do exactly the same baptism to some other freshmen and the wheel of events will get its closure. The scheme will complete.
Young and old, do not be afraid to ask and do not be afraid to answer. If someone leaves you with your question in inelegant way, then just say that you can see that he doesnít know the answer, but maybe he knows someone who knows one ;) He will stay with his bulleted ignorance or antisocial behaviour. Then it will be a good deed to come to him again after some time with another question. Let him see that rude behaviour does not protect him from questions.
Old people should not be ashamed to answer. From my experience I can see that every time I say that I canít answer the question at the moment, but will try to prepare for next day I see recognition on the other side. Because showing respect to the one who asks is much more important than the answer itself.
Each answer to the question, each explanation consolidates the knowledge we gather and is a very important element of the training. That is why I once again encourage you to learn how to ask, learn to listen to the answers, learn to answer and learn to explain. It will help us all to create a safety platform, which is communication.
translation Andrzej Przygodzki