When a lot of people break down camp from their hometowns to set up shop in the more glaciated states, a common first-time employer is their local ski mountain. With positions ranging from slinging coffee at the local café to public relations and marketing (for the bigger resorts), the skiing industry is not only an invariable moneymaker for state tourism, but also the lifeblood of many towns themselves.
My first job out of college found me shoveling snow and “bumping” chairs. I chose the mighty job of Lift Operator, as I couldn’t see myself enjoying the season stuck behind any ticket sales or lunchroom counter. From the moment I got my mountain issued snow pants and logoed parka, I was hooked. While the early morning car rides in sub-freezing temps took their toll during the early season, those cold memories were quickly replaced with better ones featuring cloudless days and first-tracks.
When recalling the “good old days”, what comes to mind most frequently is the feeling of community that working at a ski resort brought. During short intermittent phases that my car was operable, I made sure to repay the many co-workers who picked me up on the side of the road during those other, longer periods of time. When one of our co-workers got injured on the job, we brought him beer and pizza to take away the pain of being out of work for a few weeks. The mountain brought us closer together and showed us that we were beyond our titles and duties, a feeling and lesson well worth the wages.