I learned years ago that I wasn't nearly such a good judge of character as I thought. When I sought volunteers for expeditions in Belize I got it in my head that I could avoid complications by conducting personal interviews with potential participants. It only took one field season to demonstrate that I was better off trusting to blind luck.
.. One summer we planned a two-month long excavation of two Maya sights ,on the north end of Ambergris Caye. Living conditions promised to be pretty rough as we would be living in tents, rationing fresh water and bathing in the salt water lagoon using Joy detergent. In addition to the heat. dirt, mosquitoes, Doctor Flies, scorpions and coconut crabs that loved to share tents with humans, there was the isolation in a small camp over twenty miles from running water and ice that I felt wouldn't be for anyone but the heartiest volunteer.
I needed sixty people to complete the crew and had selected fifty-eight when there was a polite knock on my office door. In walked two attractive women I guessed to be in their late thirties who were absolutely dressed to the nines. Dripping with diamonds and clutching their Gucci purses, they looked all the world as if they had just come from a fashion show or a meeting of the Junior League. It was clear that these ladies were from the privileged class, having gone to the right finishing schools and seen the best orthodontists from the time they were children. Both, it turns out, were divorcees having recently parted company with their wealthy spouses and were ready for some real adventure. Instinct told me to hustle them out the door but as I listened to their enthusiastic pleas. I confess I weakened, They were, after all, well educated and not without charm. After a few minutes, I caved in. I decided to accept their applications, whereupon they commenced a sort of cheerleader routine while giving me air kisses to both cheeks. My reasoning was along the lines of- what the hell, if nothing else they will provide some comic relief and if they crater on me I can always send them home.
The day they were to arrive in San Pedro, I waited anxiously at Tropic Air to collect the volunteers and start the long boat trip to Rocky Point. The door to the aircraft opened and out stepped my two cupcakes. This time I just knew they had made a special trip to Nieman-Marcus to get outfitted for the expedition. They looked like they both had starring roles in one of those god-awful 1960's jungle movies ... you know, with leopard skin trim on their safari jackets, bush clothing that you don't get at the Army-Navy store and (I'm NOT making this up) pith helmets with little fans in the brim that were powered by solar panels on top of the hat. All they needed to complete the look was an elephant gun.
The first day in the excavation I decided to put these two in a relatively safe area and assign them a task I thought they could handle. To my surprise they did a very credible job and never complained about the bugs, dirt, sweat and broken fingernails. By the end of the first week they had succeeded making friends with everyone and provided all of us with a great deal of merriment with their running conversations. It was sort of like having Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn digging next to you.
Toward then end of the second week I suddenly heard a series of ooooooh sounds that women usually reserve for moments of extreme ecstasy. You have probably guessed by now that the two best dressed archeological volunteers in all of Christendom had found the jade. Great scholars they weren't. but those gals could spot jewelry at four hundred yards in the dark!