Editor’s Note: Piste Off Liftie is a new, tongue-in-cheek column exploring the fictional exploits of a quintessential dirt-bag ski lift operator. Enjoy!
Man, I’m so glad that winter is coming. Don’t get me wrong, I totally love my summer gig working at Silverwood, and who wouldn’t? I mean, where else can you get paid to enjoy free food, free rides and epic bikini-watching? Plus, Idaho has cheap booze and cigs. Yeah, love me some bikinis and cheap smokes. But I digress. Winter is my favorite season simply because I get to go back to work at the mountain. Now to all of you Starbucks-drinking, khaki-wearing, Volvo-driving flatlanders, this might not sound all that attractive, but hear me out. Winter is definitely better than summer for those of us that work on the hill, and here’s why.
Winter means fresh air. Did you enjoy smelling like a campfire after spending an hour outside this summer? Was it fun digging those nasty ash boogers out of your nose on the commute home? Hell no. I haven’t coughed like that since I took my first puff off of the peace pipe back in the late 1980s. Just wish I could remember if I enjoyed it…. Anyway, we don’t seem to have that problem in the winter in the mountains, now do we? About the worst thing I have to smell is the diesel exhaust from some a-hole’s Compensator in the parking lot in the morning. You know who you are.
Winter means no commuting. Sure is fun sitting in standstill traffic on I-90 at 5 p.m. when it’s 105 degrees out, ain’t it? Or better yet, getting stuck behind some d-bag on Francis who thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to drive 20 mph and then gives me the finger when I high beam him cuz my horn doesn’t work. Once the lifts start spinning, these memories fade away. With my 1982 Pace Arrow sitting in the parking lot, I just have to roll out of the fart sack and cruise up to the lodge. Best part is the bathrooms are freshly cleaned and spotless that early in the morning, but not for long thanks to the Folgers instant coffee and organic gluten-free oatmeal I had for breakfast.
Winter means no dress code. Creased slacks, starched shirts and shined shoes might be the norm for many poor bastards in our misguided society, but not for this cowboy once the snow flies. No sir, the dude definitely does not abide. My mountain uniform consists of a pair of semi-baggy gangsta snowboard pants and an old-school, white long john top with an Iron Maiden t-shirt over it. The t-shirt gets switched out every two weeks with the one my cousin got me at a Beastie Boys concert in 1992. Punks fear me, chicks dig me.
Winter means water conservation. Having to shower and shave every day sucks. So does paying some twice-divorced, tattooed, lip-pierced hairstylist to cut my hair once a month. Plus she usually does a crappy job. Once I’m on the mountain, I go totally feral. Come winter, I’ll have a beard that will make Grizzly Adams jealous. It might hold crumbs from dinner four days ago, but damn it will keep my face warm. For the record, long hair on men is totally hip today, so don’t be a hater. And a warning – showering twice a month means you might want to stay up-wind of me. Just saying. //
Brad Northrup spent his previous life living and working in the mountains. He now owns four pair of creased khakis, frequents Starbucks often and spends way too much time commuting.