Sonya Sorich column: Five people you'll meet while whitewater rafting

May 28, 2013 

This isn't just another whitewater column.

Instead, I consider it ground-breaking commentary on human behavior, based on my three trips down the local whitewater course.

During those trips, I've learned a variety of lessons -- only half of which pertain to adventure sports and water safety. The rest involve social skills. For example, what do you say when you hit a particularly rough rapid and end up in a questionable position that interferes with a fellow passenger's personal space?

Before embarking on a rafting excursion, it's best to familiarize yourself with the various scenarios that could create social awkwardness on your raft.

Fortunately, I've researched long enough to introduce you to some of the behavioral traits that might surface during your adventure. Here are five people you'll likely meet while whitewater rafting.

The Historian

Hey, have you heard "Chattahoochee River" translates into "river of death"? Yes, in fact, I have -- and the same likely holds true for nearly everyone else living in the Chattahoochee Valley.

Therein lies The Historian's problem. This person is intent on filling an otherwise peaceful trip with insignificant and sometimes inaccurate commentary on our region's history. Fun fact for all future Historians: "The word Chattahoochee is derived from the Creek Indian words meaning painted rock," according to the Chattahoochee RiverWarden's website.

The Person Who Wears Socks and Sneakers

My informal research suggests roughly 1 percent of the population was born with an ability to not only tolerate, but enjoy, the sensation of wearing wet socks. For the rest of us, it's a miserable experience. So if the person beside you is flaunting a hardcore grimace while rafting, check his or her feet.

The Person Who Wears an Item That Will Inevitably Disappear

Rafting isn't an opportunity to showcase Grandma's heirloom jewelry. But some people still choose to wear items that will inevitably get lost in the water -- and then act completely shocked when it happens. Examples include jewelry, sunglasses and flip-flops.

The Person Who Desperately Wants to Flip Over

This rafter is so intent on having an extreme experience that he or she might start rocking the boat during the calmest phase of your journey. Other symptoms of this personality include an incessant array of questions about Cut Bait and a tendency to knowingly disobey paddle commands.

The Person Who Abuses "Woo-hoo"

Yes, I understand it's an exciting experience. However, screaming in elation before you've even conquered a real rapid is just plain annoying. Let's preserve the sanctity of "woo-hoo," folks. Think before you scream.

Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at ssorich@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8516. Visit ledger-enquirer.com/sonya to read her columns.

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