Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

News and what we do



Suppose you work like a dog, trying desperately to cram three weeks of work into a single week in a pointless attempt to stave off facing six weeks of piled-up work when you get back from your one week holiday – feel free to diagram that if you find it confusing.

You rush home on Friday with every intention of sipping several relaxing cocktails only to find yourself up to your neck in a logistical nightmare as you struggle in vain to pack what gives every appearance of being enough gear to launch an Everest expedition.

Halfway through packing – which is actually your third attempt to fit 200 pounds of crap into bags with a maximum capacity of 150 pounds – your teenage daughter informs you skiing sucks and she’s decided to spend the holidays with her best friend whose parents you suspect are swingers and your spouse suspects run a child porn ring out of their basement.

During the course of the ensuing meltdown your younger son manages to mangle three fingers in the trunk you’ve just sat down hard on hoping to bring the overstuffed sides close enough together to latch, precipitating a trip to Emergency, X-Rays and several splints that clearly call into question his ability to grip a ski pole.

Your flight is of course delayed, which turns out to be fortuitous since you’ve been randomly selected to be stripsearched, which, to your embarrassment, graphically reveals the fact – completely and understandably forgotten in your mad dash to meet the airport limo at 4:30 in the freaking morning – you made the unfortunate decision to wear a pair of your wife’s underwear since all your clean pairs were packed in the finger-eating trunk.

The airline not only fails to deliver your funked-out, perpetually pouting daughter her requested vegan meal but has only overcooked brown stuff, rumoured to be beef, as an alternative to a 12-hour flight fueled only by pretzels and honey peanuts, but runs out of both liquor and functioning toilets long before you arrive in Vancouver.

Needless to say, the bag containing your ski boots is missing entirely and the finger-eating trunk explodes open in a shower of your clean, male, underwear when it finally hits the baggage carousel… which is does long after every other bag on the plane has been delivered and claimed, thus saving you a modicum of further embarrassment.

Which is ladled on you in spades when Customs randomly selects you to stripsearch, for the second time in less than 24 hours, a new, personal best.

You arrive in Whistler, relieved to finally be somewhere you’re fairly certain you’ll only have to disrobe when you feel like it. Of course, it would be nice if your room was ready, which it isn’t, being occupied it turns out by the last guest who is frantically trying to pack his own logistical nightmare for the trip home, but at least you can have a drink or six to soothe what you hope is your final barrier to happiness.

As soon as the bar opens.

You wake reasonably fresh and ready to hit the slopes the next morning. Now if only you could find the slopes… somewhere mysteriously hidden in the thickest, lowest clouds you’ve ever seen… behind the torrential curtain of rain… falling on their peaks… wherever they are.

And on the way to Guest Services, to pick up your tickets which were inexplicably not in your check-in package at the hotel, some joker from the CBC shoves a microphone in your face while another joker in a matching jacket points the unblinking eye of a camera in your direction.

"So," says the joker with the microphone, "How do you like the liquid snow?"

Pondering the manifold insults heaped on your shoulders during the past 48 hours, still reeling from the 80-hour work week you knocked off to go on this trip, wondering why God has abandoned you in your hour of need, you shrug your shoulders and say, "Well, it could be worse."


That interview wouldn’t make The National… with Peter Mansbridge.

One of the reasons it wouldn’t make the news is because, well, it isn’t news. Now, take the sputtering, screaming, histrionic, I’m-never-coming-back-here-again-after-spending-$20,000-on-my-vacation-and-having-it-rained-out kind of reaction. That’s news! It’s news because it’s both heartening – especially during the peace on Earth, goodwill towards men time of year – to see someone who isn’t you suffering such indignity, but it’s especially news because it’s rare to see an adult someone suffering such indignity with all the grace and aplomb of a four-year-old throwing a hissy fit.

It’s rare. As in not the norm. As in deviant. The fact that it’s also both colourful and feeds right into the CBC’s preferred bias, shared by an alarmingly wide swath of the Canadian populace, for getting a warm, fuzzy feeling when the successful stumble, ensures it’s news.

The boring fact is, most of the unlucky souls who chose the week before Christmas instead of the week after Christmas to holiday in Whistler suffered silently and stoically. Most of them were adult enough to comprehend the crapshoot that is a Christmas ski holiday. Most of them have endured less than idyllic vacations sometime in the past and most of them understand they’ll very likely endure them again some time in the future. It’s the nature of the beast. If you don’t like disappointment, stay home.

If, at the very core of their being, they’re skiers, they’ll be back. They’ll be back either because they’ve skied these two mountains before and the fire to return has been burning ever since, or they’ll be back because they’ve heard too many stories about how good it can be here and, let’s face it, hope springs eternal in the heart of every ski junkie.

If their passion for sliding down snowy mountains is secondary to holidaying in a place they’ve heard is très cool, they’ll flit on to the next trendy flavour and probably would have anyway.

In the age of global warming, it’s something we’re going to have to (a) get used to and (b) develop a better response to than lashing out at the messenger because (a) that just makes us look dorky and (b) makes about as much sense as pullin’ your ads because a competitor advertises in the same medium.

I know it’s not news but I sure spent the week before Christmas talking to a lot of tourists who were disappointed in the skiing and had some uncomplimentary things to say about Mother Nature but were downright complimentary about the very generous refund policy the Mother Corp has towards lift tickets and ski school. They were also warmly appreciative at how empathetic the locals were to their plight and how quick most of us were to offer up suggestions on alternative activities to while away the time before cocktail hour. They were even talking about coming back.

Of course, that isn’t news… it’s just what we do.