There’s plenty to be annoyed about in skiing right now. Fast Tracks, predatory paid parking, broken reservation systems, the price of gear, the influx of new skiers into the backcountry, you name it, we’ve got it, and we’ll complain about it. I’m not immune to the malaise by any means-- we’re off to a slow start snow-wise so far, I just skipped opening day for the first time in a decade, for petty reasons, and on top of that my new bibs are too narrow for my gut and my boots make my feet want to fall off. I complain. A lot. This isn’t some fluffy self-help article encouraging toxic positivity.
But be nice. Be nice this season. Please. Just. Be. Nice. To. People. This. Ski. Season.
One of the painful paradoxes of skiing is that the people who have to deliver the most frustrating news to skiers are very rarely the people who have any power over that news. The ticket seller didn’t set the price of tickets, the resort’s social media manager is not behind all the policies that are making the hill not feel like home any more, the parking attendant didn’t decide we should have paid parking this year, the shop employee didn’t start the pandemic that led to increased demand for backcountry gear and broken supply lines to get it to this continent, and the lifty didn’t sacrifice a goat to ensure that the snow would be thin.
But we, as skiers, are often angry, and those people are close at hand to vent to. As an industry, we love to shoot the messenger. And we gotta stop doing that.
It’s hard to work in customer service in the ski industry at any level. These jobs don’t pay enough, most folks in them are dealing with absurd housing shortages, and ski resort management is often uncaring and demanding. On top of that you get to deal with entitled assholes who are projecting all the frustration in their life onto the person who has to tell them that lift tickets are more expensive on holidays.
Mad about Fast Tracks? So is every other local skier. But the people you can talk to, the employees manning the maze or serving you that apres beer or bumping your chair, can’t do anything about it. So don’t take it out on them.
Does paid parking really grind your gears? It’s not the parking attendants’ fault. It’s really, really not. And if you’re complaining about paying to park when you drove your happy ass up to the hill solo, well, fuck you.
Angry that you’re stuck behind a plow going 30 mph when you really need to pee and it’s a powder day? Too bad. Be nice. Don’t tailgate them, don’t pass them dangerously, just breathe a little.
Does the mega resort industrial complex in many ways epitomize all of the negative repercussions of late stage capitalism? Sure, totally. But that is not the harried person at the ticket window trying to sell you a $200 ticket’s fault. In fact, the resort is probably screwing them much harder than it’s screwing you.
Do the conditions suck? It’s not patrol’s fault. Don’t yell at them about it. And don’t go down to the resort shop asking for a free base grind when the signs clearly stated that unmarked hazards exist.
Did you pay way too much for this expensive ski vacation that your kids aren’t enjoying and your wife is mad at you about, and really isn’t helping you relive your glory days as much as you were hoping? None of that is your server’s fault. And yes, that one seems oddly specific, but at any given time there are at least three middle aged men in every resort bar who are pissed for those reasons. And all of them will tip poorly.
Does your ski resort’s social media really piss you off? I get it. But I know that being a dick on Instagram doesn’t help anything, and instead it just hurts folks who probably have dreams of running this account in a much better style but are hamstrung by foolish supervisors. So, as my mother used to say, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, consider putting your phone back in your pocket instead of thumb typing a screed.”
Be nice to people. Be nice to people at your home hill. Be even nicer to people on vacation. Tip well. Thank folks. Bus your table. Return your empty glass. Drive slowly and considerately through ski towns. Park tightly without being asked to. High five patrollers. Bring snacks for lifties. Ask them how their day is going. Grit your teeth and smile through the exploitative resort policies and overpriced tickets and underperforming gear. The people you are interacting with are just as frustrated as you are. Be kind to the people around you. You’re skiing. That’s pretty cool. Plenty of things need to change, but being a dick won’t help any of that. Be nice this season.