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Maxed out

The Great American Road Trip begins

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“I’ll be home for Christmas….”

Actually, I won’t be. But assuming I make it past Homeland Security, past the very thorough check of the contents of my car after the U.S. Border Security person motions me into the Disassembly & Complimentary Strip Search line, past the questions about why a guy who lives in Whistler is going to the U.S. to ski… for a month, past the suspicions that I’m smuggling skis into the country because of the number of them they’ll find in the ski box, past the suspicions I’m smuggling something else into the country, the hiding place of which they’ve yet to find, and finally, past the suspicion inherent in traveling with Zippy the Dog and no apparent dog food — another story — assuming I successfully negotiate all of that, I’ll be somewhere I used to call home for Christmas.

So will all the rest of my nuculer family. For the first time in 15 years, I’m going somewhere other than to work over the holidays. That’s because I’m not going to work over the holidays or any other time this season. At least not the work I’ve done for almost that many years at Whistler Mountain. Figuring I’d rather take my bereavement leave while my parents are still alive and can enjoy my visit, I decided to take the year off. It was the only way to get Christmas off and it came with side benefits I couldn’t foresee.

Not the least of the unforeseen benefits was arriving at Creekside on opening day this season and seeing a lineup all the way out the maze, across the courtyard, over the bridge and growing by the minute. I was very happy to see that lineup. I was extremely happy to stand at the end of it and kibitz with the other opening day skiers. I was downright giddy to board the gondola 50 minutes later.

That’s because the alternative to standing in line was doing what I usually do, standing on the other side of the counter for 10 hours watching the line of people shuffle by to get on the gondola without me and watching another line, almost as long but not nearly as merry, file in to get their passes, sort out their problems, air their grievances, ask where the bathroom is. And while dealing with all those logistical conundrums — conundra? — is honourable work, necessary work, yea even noble work… I’m not really missing it. Not even a little. Okay, maybe some of the nice people I see year after year after year. Naw, I’m just rationalizing. Sorry guys.

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