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Ski Resort Living 8 February 2010

Posted by magicdufflepud in Uncategorized.
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More than once after it became clear I’d be heading Colorado my friends wondered if I’d come home for Christmas or MLK weekend. Or ever. “No,” I told them. “The nature of the job means that I don’t really get to take time off. But I am living in a vacation destination after all–maybe you should come visit me.” And thus far, they’ve fulfilled that end of the bargain. College buddies Weeks, Bell and Cottrell came out this weekend for a quick romp in the snows of Keystone, Breckenridge and Vail, and for the most part they spent their time alternately gaping at the scenery and greeting it head-first: too many faceplants in the powder, I guess. Former roommate Brett will arrive in March for more of the same.

But at the other end of the bargain is a life perpetually confined to this resort world of rental properties and Christmas lights that have yet to come down. I’m beginning to think nothing will dislodge them save a sudden onset of of Mardi Gras cheer, and even then this will remain a place of transients, faces seen once at a bar or on the lift. It’s about this time of year, too, that the niggling differences between this and real life begin to pop up. Just one of the twenty-somethings that staff the reservations call center lacks a college degree; a couple more have completed post-graduate education. And everywhere else the sons and daughters of what are predominately well-to-do families are spending these first 12 or 18 months of their degreed lives removing snow and picking up trash, generally for fewer than $10 an hour.  The economist in me sees an enormous, probably outsized, value placed on the snow which hasn’t exactly arrived in abundance this season. Why else turn down a secure office job to scrape ice off the stairs at 7:45 this morning? What’s the marginal value of those powder days? Tens of thousands of dollars, evidently.

But when you’re here on vacation you miss that; the trip hinges on the snow and the bars and just how quickly and painlessly you can check into your room. Who attends to those matters doesn’t, well, matter. That’s not a plea for recognition but rather an attempt to highlight the key difference between the ski resort and any other player in the service industry. At the moment I can think of no other sport that sustains an entire population on the promise of another day of play. No one sacrifices for golf. Surfing maybe. Has anyone chanced a job offer to spend another day on the racquetball court?

No.

Perhaps the ski industry takes advantage of us. We don’t receive holiday pay. We don’t get vacation. Sometimes we work six day weeks. But in the end, we ski. And every year, that promise draws thousands of folks like us to resorts around the country. So, Ullr, please send snow. We’re paying for it.

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