Been a while

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I think this has been the longest that I've been without writing a blog since I wrote the first one (not including test entries) back last year sometime. That's mainly because of the circumstances I've been surrounded with over the past couple of weeks. So I'll do my best to get all caught up with what I've been up to over these 2 days off that I have. Although it's already gone 3pm on my first day off, so we'll see how far I get. It'll probably be a case of starting writing today. And then finishing tomorrow what I don't have the time/energy for now.

There's been quite a lot happening lately. Hard to know where to really start. I guess, at the beginning. Not that that's ever any fun.

In terms of snowfall, this whole season has been a big disappointment. Not to me so much, because, well I'm not used to seeing much snow. So I'd be happy with any amount of snow. But for the people whom are experienced skiers/boarders, this has been a poor season. And through the glimpses of good snow that we've had fall, even I've been able to appreciate the difference between skiing on good, fresh snow, and the crap that we've had at the resort for most of the season.

So it was a welcome sight, on the Tuesday of 10 days ago, to finally get some snow fall. Fresh snow, rather than the packed down crap that we've had to ski on for the past few weeks. I was working on Champagne on that day, so it didn't mean too much to me. However, even on a full day of work, I still managed to get in 5 runs. One before the mountain was even open, so that really was fresh snow. One of the perks of the job I guess. But I had Wednesday and Thursday of last week off. I remember saying in a previous blog about the staff trips that we get here, charged at cost. And how you'd be a fool to work here, and not take advantage of them. Well I'd not been on any staff trips yet. So my Thursday this week was to be my first staff trip to Lake Louise. With more snow supposedly coming that night, that gave me Wednesday to make the most of a rare experience. Panorama with fresh snow.

This day on Champagne wasn't something I especially savoured. I was working the lift with Laura, who is pretty unanimously viewed as a fucking retard. She really is dumb. And useless. And lazy. Somehow she doesn't get fired. But there's always a thought of "why me?" when you get stuck on a lift with her. You'll pretty much spend your day rectifying for her retardedness. And although I may make light of how much of a doss this job can be, it isn't always.

Snow is kind of like shit. There are different kinds. It's not just a case of snow, or no snow. Different snow reacts differently to different conditions and surroundings. And it's really warmed up since earlier in the season when I was bitching and moaning about it being -35°C. You'll still start the day at about -10°C. But leaving the house before 7 every morning, this really isn't anything too spectacular. I'd expect it to get almost this cold during the night back home. And there I never owned any of the Winter clothing that I do here. But by midday now, you can be well into the pluses. Maybe as warm as 10°C. And in these conditions, fresh snow, when compressed by an act such as skiing over it, very quickly becomes ice. This isn't so much of a problem in areas on open runs where the areas that people ski will be wide and varied. But what about the loading ramp of a chairlift? This same area will have people continually going over it, in exactly the same places, for the whole 7 hours that the mountain is open. At her own request, Laura was starting at the bottom of the chairlift. And first thing in the morning, before the fresh snow has been packed down into ice, you can shovel or rake a whole ramp in 5 or 10 minutes. It's easy work. Doesn't take any effort.

I was obviously starting at the top of the chairlift then. And waiting patiently at the top for my lunch-break, I get a call from Ben. He's the crew-chief on this lift today. Wants to know if Laura's up there already. No sign of her up here. She managed to take over 50 minutes, for her 30 minute lunch break. I get along with Ben well, so to help him out, I greatly shorten my lunch break to about 15 minutes, to help him get back on schedule. Because by taking that extra time on her break, Laura has royally screwed him over for the day. As she seems to do on a regular basis, yet still not get fired. I didn't really mind doing that. I wasn't too happy about it. But this is nothing unexpected when you get stuck on a lift with Laura for the day. It's just one of those things. Once in a while, everyone has to take one for the team, and work with the lifty retard. They probably have to tick a box to satisfy the governments criteria of hiring lazy fuckwits or something.

That wasn't so bad. What was bad though, was getting to the ramp after lunch, and seeing that Laura hadn't bothered to clear the soft fresh snow off that morning. And that this soft, fresh, snow, having been packed down for the past 4 hours, was now about 2 inches of solid ice, above the height that the ramp is supposed to be at. I might not be a model employee. I might not be willing to go beyond the call of duty too often. What I will do, is what needs doing. No more, no less. I won't do anal work just because there's nothing to do that actually needs doing. And at the same time, if there is something to do, I'll do it. I'll do it in the most efficient manner that I can, so I can get back to doing nothing. But I'll get it done. That means, when I get to a lift in the morning, I'll do the 10 minutes of raking off the fresh snow, so the ramp doesn't become 2 inches of ice. Laura doesn't. She's a fucking lazy bitch. And it took me from the point that I got back to lunch, until about 20 minutes after the lift had closed, to constantly chip away at this ice, and rake it off, just to get the ramp back to an acceptable standard. Not even a great standard, but an acceptable standard. Needless to say, I wasn't too happy. I'd lost half of my lunch break to cover Laura's fuck-ups. And now I'd spent my whole afternoon covering her weird-shaped ass as well. To the point that I got given 15 Pano points for my efforts. Pano points can be converted to money at any of the mountains businesses. In the great hall. At the general store. At the ski shop. Because I'll spend money at these businesses nearly daily, giving me 15 Pano points to spend there, is essentially giving me $15. I was given $15 just for working with Laura for a day. That's how much of a retard she is.

The one positive for today, barring the gondola, I can't remember any day that a lift I've been working has gone without stopping or slowing down once. Well I know for sure that this lift didn't stop all day. A log is kept on the lifts computer. And at times I was at the lift (most of the day), is didn't slow down either. So it was, despite working with Laura, a perfect day on the lift. That's something of a miracle. Working with a retard, and I manage to pull off a perfect day. Something that, had I not been so pissed off about having to chip away at ice for 3 or 4 hours for, I might have cherished. But had I known that this day may be the last time that I ever work the Champagne Express, I may have even cherished having to chip away at ice all day.

I mentioned a while ago that I was thinking about purchasing a head-cam. Well initially I'd decided that this wasn't a worthwile investment. But as the thought constantly roamed through my head for a couple of weeks, as I skied, the cogs in my head started to turn. And it got to the point that I had visions of the videos I could make if I had a headcam. And I mean detailed visions. I don't just mean the runs I would film. But I mean the runs I would film, the directions I would be looking as I'm skiing to get the best shots, the titles of the films, the soundtracks that they would be played to, the ways I would manipulate particular movie-making software to edit the videos so they would play as I see them. Everything was thought out to a tee. I knew every little detail of these films I wanted to make. All I was lacking, was the head-cam to film them with. And wanting to get a video memory of my time at Panorama, I eventually caved to these thoughts, and on the day before working this shift on Champagne, on the Monday, I ordered a Tachyon XC. I even had visions of how these videos would help promote this website, and hence maybe even provide a little ad revenue. Plus, as a promotion, the makers of this camera are having a competition for the best videos. So maybe I would've won that as well. So I was almost looking at it as an invesment as much as a purchase. Not one where I'd expect to recoup all of my investment. But enough to lower the price enough to justify paying for it. Plus, it will have other uses beyond skiing. It's waterproof for example. So wherever I end up after Canada, then maybe I could film where I go snorkelling for example. I'd kill to have video of what I saw when I used to go snorkelling as a kid. So on the Monday, I bit the bullet and put in an order, such was my intent to do some movie-worthy skiing.

As I mentioned already, after this shift on Champagne, I had 2 days off coming up. Beyond them, however, I had my nightmare week. 7 straight days, as opposed to 5 as normal. That I could handle. But it was 7 straight days of only Mile 1 and Champagne shifts. The 2 lifts I like working the least. God knows what I did to deserve this. I guess I should take it as a complement to be put on the 2 most important lifts at the resort, for 7 straight days, in a period in which we were supposed to be busy. But complement or not, I don't want to work those lifts. I said I'll do the work that needs to be done. But I'd much rather work at a place where there is no work to be done. I'm quite content to do nothing all day. I can keep myself perfectly happy just accompanied by the thoughts in my head. They're more intriguing than anything I'd expect to hear said by anyone I meet on a typical day. Why do you think I love working the quiet lifts? And why do you think my longest occupied full-time position was working as a swimming pool lifeguard? I'm good at doing nothing. Unlike most people who evidently get bored easily, my thoughts are more exciting that what happens in the real world. So I'd rather be left alone with them.

With that week coming up, I really was going to make the most of these 2 days off. My first staff trip. Fresh powder at Pano. And then on the other side of my nightmare week, I could start doing some filming. Start editing some Panorama movies. I just had to put up with 7 days of Mile 1 and Champagne in the middle of it all.

On the Wednesday, I eagerly wake up to my alarm, and before doing anything, look out of my window. There was no snow. This was a bit of a downer. But there would still be enough laying around from yesterday to keep me happy. Plus the mountain is 18km from town. In a mountainy environment no less. So just because there is no snow here, doesn't mean there's none at the mountain.

And sure enough, as the bus gets closer and closer to the mountain, the snow starts to fall. And there is inches of thick powder on the ground. Just waiting for me to ski over. My first powder day in weeks.

And as always, my warm-up run, is a run down Millenium. This is a black diamond run. It's a steep, but maintained run. Fairly wide in most places. And with some sharp corners on steep parts of the run. A good run to start on for the day. Especially on a day like today. Once it's been skiied on for a couple of hours, it won't be the same as it is now. It has a warning sign at the beginning of the run. Warning. Steep and hard-packed. And after a couple of hours, this is what it becomes. Steep and icy. But at the beginning of the day, with fresh powder, it's a real treat. You can get up some real speed and do the length of the mountain from the top of Champagne in only a couple of minutes. And that's exactly what I did. All the way down to the bottom of the Sunbird chair. Underneath this fresh powder, a lot of the run had been groomed as well. It was perfect skiing for what I like. Speed. Somehow, that's what I've evolved into. A speed skier. I love the mogully tracks. And I went over some park jumps for the first time not long before this. But I just naturally evolved into a skier, who could just go, really, really fast. In no time, this is just what came naturally to me. And as I was going up the Sunbird chair, I was thinking to myself, that this was quite possibly, the best run I'd ever done. Not only with the speed that I did it at, but just the way it felt. That's the differnence between good skiing and shit skiing. It's how you feel when you're doing it. And I was going at break-neck speed. And the nature of the terrain underneath my skis made it really, really comfortable. Man I was flying.

This is that first route that I did:

Millenium route

So there I was. I'd just completed probably the hardest maintained run that Panorama has, in record time. No slips, no falls. It was beautiful. I was flying. So I was going to get to the top of the Sunbird chair. Go up the Champagne lift. And then up to the summit, to get in some good summit runs.

This is the route from the top of the Sunbird chair to the bottom of Champagne. So short and so simple, that I didn't even bother putting my poles around my wrists. In fact, so short and simple, you might struggle to see the black line that I've drawn onto the map to illuminate it:

Sunbird to Champagne

Maybe then, it was this arrogance that caused me to fall. I flatlined it down to the lift deliberately taking the steepest route I could see. I overshot the right-turn to the lift marginally. And as I dug my inside-left edge into the snow to get a sharp turn, something went. Before I knew what was happening, I was in a cloud of snow at a high-speed. But it damn sure wasn't travelling on my skis. And as I'm tumbling, my right ski comes off. My left ski doesn't. So carrying my ski on my foot, I'm turning at speed that my left leg can't keep up with. And as I'm going, my leg gets contorted at such an angle, I'm convinced it's about to break. It doesn't. Thankfully. But I do feel a pop. Like a rubber-band snapping. When I stop, I'm kind of in a state of shock for a couple of seconds. I look around me. Chris, the lifty at the bottom of Champagne this morning is looking at me with a ski patroller. Too far away to really communicate, but still near enough that I can see the looks on their faces. They aren't good. My left leg is kind of numb. But I'm able to move it. I can feel nothings broken, although it's not without pain. A few seconds pass. I take off my left ski and ease up to my hands and knees. I can feel there's damage to my leg. But something stops me from waving over the ski patroller who's stood right there. He's still looking at me. Making sure I'm ok. I guess pride stopped me from calling him over. God damn I could have used some help about now. But I hate accepting help from anyone. Don't ask me why. It's just the way I am. Always have been. I like to be able to rely on myself for everything that I need. And I guess asking for help demonstrates an inability to look after myself. So as he sees me get onto my feet, he assumes I'm well, and proceeds up the Champagne chair.

I'm able to stand ok. And I'm able to get me skis back on and head towards the bottom of Champagne with the intention of riding up the lift. But after catching my breath for a couple of minutes whilst talking to Chris, I can still feel a little sensation in my left knee. So I decide to ski down to the bottom. Give my knee a rest. Just be at the bottom of the mountain in case this is anything serious. Rather than going up further. So I ski down Old Timer. This fairly easy blue run. I do what a can to eleviate any pressure from my left knee. Skiing mainly on my right, just using my left for balance. And as I get to the bottom there's still some degree of pain, so I go back into mountain ops to rest up for a bit. See how it feels.

As I walk down the steps to mountain ops, I can feel something's not right though. And rolling up my ski pants, I can see some bruising. So I figure best, if nothing else, to get some ice put on the knee. Ski patrol are right above where I am, so I walk up there, and tell them the deal. Ask for some ice. They ask me if I want them to take a look over the injury whilst I'm there, so I don't see why not. Had I known that they'd have to fill in some big form, I wouldn't have bothered.

After an examination, the conclusion that I get from the ski patroller, is it looks like nothing more than bruising. RICE the injury. Maybe ask for the next couple of shifts to be moved to the gondola if it's still bad when I come back to work in 2 days. And if it swells up considerably, then if at the mountain still, come back into the partol centre. Or if in town, then get to the hospital.

This was all done by about 10. The next bus isn't for about 4 hours, and despite this injury, I'm still planning on getting to Lake Louise tomorrow. Even if I can't go at 100%, it'll still be an opportunity to get out of Invermere and out of Pano. And to go there, I'm going to need my skis and boots. And fuck hitching back from the mountain with all of that. But with the R of RICE standing for rest, I wasn't going back up the mountain again today, so I go to the Great Hall to get some breakfast. I have until the bus to make a decision. Am I healthy enough to get to Lake Louise tomorrow? Or do I need to make an attempt to get a refund? It takes a little while to make a decision, but eventually I very reluctantly decide that I'm going to have to miss out on my first staff trip. I get my refund back no problem. So with this $20 in my pocket, time to kill waiting for the bus, and the fact I'm pretty pissed off that I'm losing what is supposed to be the 2 good days before the 7 shit days of work coming up, I go to the pub for a couple of pints.

Just my luck that the barman is going on the damn trip. So I have to get served by someone who's still going to Lake Louise. And he also insists on telling me how this is the first powder day since January 6th. 6 or 7 weeks ago. I'd have to say that the day prior to this was the first powder day, but this was definitely a better day. And how was I spending it? Sat it a damn bar, drinking, simply because I have nothing better to do. I go on, and on, and on about the accomodation situation here. But still to this point, I'm pissed off that, probably because they misplaced my application or something like that during the application process, I'm stuck in town. It's literally right here, driving me to drink. I wouldn't have been drinking here if I could just go home. But no. What the hell else it there to do on a ski mountain when you can't ski? All there is to do, is drink.

Eventually the bus does get here after 4 hours of wilderness. Why? Because I don't live at the mountain. I try to live by the mantra of 'Things turn out best for the people that make the best of the way that things turn out.' But this whole accomodation thing... it pisses me the fuck off. I'm armed with 2 sandwich bags. Why, you may ask. Well it turns out you don't get ice packs here. The ground is made of ice afterall. You don't need them. Here you get sandwich bags and just fill them with snow. Pretty resourceful when you think about it. With nothing to do today now, though, I decide back at home I may as well have a nap. You heal best in your sleep (I think). And I was a little depressed. And what better way to cure depression, than to sleep through it? There's nothing that you don't feel better about after a little sleep.

As I awaken though, still wearing the bandage I was given from the patrol centre, my lower leg has exploded. My whole calf on my left leg, is literally twice the size of the one on my right. And I remember the patrollers advice. If it swells up, then get back here, or get to the hospital. All well and good, but how the hell do you do that when you can't walk, and don't even own a phone to call anyone? I literally couldn't move my leg. For the rest of the day, to get from the couch to the bathroom 5 yards away was a 3 minute trip. By the end of the night, I was using a chair as a crutch. And I tied a belt around my foot so I could hold the other end of the belt in my left hand and move my left leg by hand. Because I had literally zero strength in my left knee. And it was causing a lot of pain. Could I have made Iced knee it to the hospital? Perhaps. But also weighing on my mind, was the $400 you get charged just for walking in there. To get seen under emergency circumstances, I'd have to fork out probably around $700 or $800. Fuck that. I hate to bring it up again, but had I been at the mountain, I could have gone back to ski patrol, and at least got some free advice. As it was, thanks to the probably loss of my job application, well I was stuck in town. So again, this little fuck up by employee experience was costing me. I was just going to leave it and see how I felt in the morning. It was a bit of a catch-22 situation. If, tomorrow, I was well enough to get the the hospital, then I would have been getting better, and would assume that I didn't need to go as I was obviously healing myself. If I wasn't well enough to get to the hospital, then I needed to go. I just couldn't get there. It wasn't an especially good situation to be in. One thing was sure though. I definitely made the right call by getting my Lake Louise money back.

The next day I feel 10 times better. I still have a considerable limp. But I can at least get from place to place without the need for physical crutches. I don't leave the house all day. Why bother? If I'm getting better, then fuck paying $700 at the hospital. But at the same time, I probably need to rest up somewhat. So that's exactly what I do.

The next day isn't much improved. So back at work, I have to swap shifts to work on the gondola. I might have just missed possibly the 2 best skiing days of the season, but look on the bright-side, at least my 7-day week of Mile 1 and Champagne is broken up now. Though working the gondola, you talk to a lot of people. And people did insist on telling me about how great Lake Louise was. So that was really fucking fun to hear.

The next day there's still little improvement, so I have to swap to the gondola again. And then the same again on Sunday.

I'm slowly getting movement back into my knee. But it is still restricted to less than 90° of movement. But it's definitely getting better. To the point that on Sunday night, I'm laying on the couch, forget all about the injury, move my legs to get off the couch into a position that they really aren't designed to go into, and like when you burn your fingers, you instantly pull away as fast as you can, this had the same effect on my knee. It just shot back, and fuck, I had never experienced pain like that. There was no serious damage done. But it took around 5 minutes to straighten my leg out again. It had just shot back into a position that it wasn't supposed to be in, caused a near unbareable pain, and got stuck. No serious damage was done. But I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say this was possibly the worst pain I'd ever experienced. At least up until this point. It would all change tomorrow.

Still being in no fit state to ski, and hence work, I had got to the point of thinking that I should seek some medical advice. Not that I wanted or needed it. But just because everyday at work, I was inconveniencing people to swap shifts around so I could work the damn gondola. Had I been my boss, I probably would have wanted me to get some professional clarification about what was wrong. When I did this injury, my thoughts turned to 2 streaks I have running. Not since I was about 10, so 13 years ago, have I sought any kind of medical attention (barring dentists but they don't count). And never in my life, since I got a paper-round at age 13 I think it was, have I ever called in sick to work. Yet through this injury, I was nearing the possibility of ending both streaks. I was able to limp into work on that first day back. Maybe something stupid now I look back at it, so at least that was in tact. But not because I wanted it, rather it was necessary for my work, I was now at a point that I really had to seek some medical attention. The only problem is, that in this retarded country, you have to pay for medical. Even though I'm insured, I have to pay for it, and then claim it back. And I want to keep as much of my money in my account as possible. And it works out a fuck-load cheaper, to go to a doctor, and get their recommendation to go to the hospital, than it does to just go to the hospital. Don't ask me why. This is capitalism at it's most retarded. People manipulating emergency situations to fleece people for as much money as possible. No fucking way was I buying into this then. So I had to find the time to get to a doctors. Problem is, doctors are open 9-5. And I'm working 7 straight days. Luckily I was able to swap for a late shift on Tuesday. Give me the chance to see someone on Tuesday morning. End my 13 year streak.

After work on Monday therefore, I went out for a couple of drinks. Didn't have to be up stupidly early. And although I obviously couldn't play, there was a broomball game, so I thought I'd watch that, have a couple of drinks before. Have a couple of drinks after. At one point I actually end up in a pub (how I got there is another story). It's an upstairs pub, and I have a bad leg. Having gone all the way up there, there's no way I'm not having a pint. So I sit down. Chat to the bar maid a little. Slightly off topic here, but you remember in the pre-departure blogs, how when I was looking for places to live, there was the girl called Crystal, who I couldn't find anything about, though I had decided she was some kind of tree-hugging hippy. Well it turns out she was the barmaid here. And she's pretty smokin' hot as well. Not even a little bit of a hippy. Got a place up at the mountain. Man I wish I'd ended up living with her. Finally put a face to that weird hippy email address. Strange how that came about (though you need the rest of the story for why. And I can't be bothered to write that).

I had a few drinks up at the mountain though, before deciding it was in my interest to head back to town. Got to get to the doctors in the morning afterall. Don't want to be hungover. So I was a little merry. Was I legal to drive? Probably not. But I was still in control of what I was doing. I still knew what was going on around me.

I've detailed before, the problems we have getting through the front door here. The landlords reluctance to change the lock makes it virtually impossible sometimes. And tonight, I just couldn't get the door open. I was still a little drunk, so maybe this had something to do with it. But whatever the reason, I couldn't get the door open. I'm banging on the door, and there's no answer. And with my knee, there's just no way I can get through the window. I even resort to trying to kick the door down at one point. Though again, try doing that on one leg. I didn't have much luck. But you can appreciate that I made a hell of a raquet. A hell of a raquet.

And it got to the point, unable to get through using my key, unable to get an answer from Greg, and unable to kick the door down, that I had little choice but to go in through the window. I'd probably been out here 20 minutes by now. All I wanted to do was go to bed. But I couldn't fucking get into my own house. So like I've done on multiple occasions when healthy, I slide off the mosquito net, and slide open the window. I aggressively moved any croqery from the surface directly beneath the window (I wasn't in the best mood right now), and lifted my right boot up and through the window, so all off my weight was on my left, injured leg. And as I'm jimmying forward to get myself to a position to haul the rest of me through the window, under the pressure it shouldn't be under, me left leg just collapses beneath me. I fall to the ground screaming in pain. My whole body-weight landing on my damaged knee, contorting it into positions it just isn't fit to handle. Last night, when my knee shot back at me like it had been put into a fire, that was some kind of erotic massage compared to this. Even in a marginally drunken state like I was, never have I remotely felt pain anything like that. I was just on the ground outside my appartent in agony. Absolute agony.

I don't know how long I lay there for. 1 minute. 5 minutes. I'm not sure. I just didn't want to move. It just wasn't worth it. I would lay here forever if I never had to go through that again. But eventually I ease my way up. Trying my key again. Bruising my knuckes as I punched the door in frustration. Until eventually, after about 35 minutes of being out there, Greg finally decides he can be bothered to get up and open the door. It's lucky that he literally opened the door and shot back into his room. Had he hung around anywhere in my proximity, I don't know that I'd have been able to contain myself from hurting him from the pain I'd just been through because he couldn't be bothered to get up. And unlike Sunday night, where there'd been no serious damage done, the movement I now had in my knee after collapsing outside the kitchen window, was a fraction of that that I'd had before. And even now, having heeded to the doctors advice for the past 4 days, I still don't have the range of movement that I had regained before this incident. Because of Greg's laziness. Because of the landlords inability to change the lock, whatever you blame, I know for sure, that this injury was prolonged 3-fold, because of that incident. I know how my knee felt before then. And I know how it felt afterwards. And I think that more damage may have been done by not being able to get through my front door, than by the initial injury itself. And at this point, on this night, I was so damn pissed, I was sure that I was moving out. No matter what, I didn't want to live in an appartment that I couldn't get into. And I damn sure didn't want to live with a guy too lazy to walk the 10 yards to the front door to let me in, knowing full well that I only had 1 leg to stand on.

Again, it was lucky that Greg was out the door before I had got up. I really had no desire to see him. And it was probably in both our interests that I didn't. Give me a little time to calm down a bit. Gain some perspective.

Hobbling to the doctors, I was moving worse than I had been the day after I'd initially injured the knee. And I was in more pain. Looking at my knee, the doctor diagnosed some degree of ligament damage. Fairly serious. How long would I be in pain for? About another 3 weeks. How long until I could ski again? A lot longer. This was the news, that it's very possible that my season was over. Over. It's very possible that I wouldn't put on skis again this season. And I have to wonder, how would that diagnosis be different had I got through the door on that painful Monday night? Had my key worked? Had Greg let me in? Because I know how I felt before then. And I know how I feel now, having done as the doctor advised for the past 4 days. And I'm still not at the level of movement or comfort that I was before Monday night. And that little incident, may well have been the difference between me skiing again, and not, this season.

I had this diagnosis, and the doc wanted me to get to the hospital to get a "zimmer splint" and have an x-ray. So I get sent to the hospital anyway. It's just now it doesn't cost me $400 just to walk through the door. What a fucked up system. Without this capitalist-motivated system of screwing people in need out of money, I could have got to the hospital the day after I initially got this injury. But at a financial cost I wasn't willing to pay. So I had to wait until I was in a position to get to see a doctor in his surgery hours, and possibly fucked up my knee 10-times worse than it had to be. What a fucked up system this is. Retarded country. Profiting from people in their greatest time of need.

Despite this relapse in my healing, I still didn't expect to hear from the doc that this was as serious as it was. I was thinking a serious sprain at worst. 3 or 4 days rest, then back on the skiing. And maybe this was all it was before I had to try and climb in through the window. Who knows? Now though, maybe my season is done.

Getting to the hospital, Panorama truck no.1 is sat right outside the entrance. This isn't good. Panorama has about 10 different trucks it uses about the mountain. And number 1 is used by mountain ops. It's usually used for shuttling lifty's about, that kind of thing. So seeing it parked out the front of the hopital... that wasn't good. And inside was Adam, the other male English lifty. Arm in a sling. Dislocated shoulder. All before 10am. He was out for about 8 weeks. I was probably done for the season as well. It was going to be team England on the gondola for a while.

The doc from the practice had sent me here to get this Zimmer splint, and to get an x-ray. The splint was about $38. The x-ray about $231. I had the x-ray. Then I got this splint put on. Really great hospital when they have splints in size S, and size XL. I would be somewhere between a medium and a large. So I had to go for the XL. Which was just about manageable when I had it put on. But now, 3 days later, it's astounding how quickly I'm losing muscle from my leg. It's noticably shrinking. And I'm almost at the point that this XL splint is now too big for me. So that's great. But even worse, when you pay $231 for an x-ray, you kind of expect to be able to see it. I got sent down here for this damn thing, paid $231, and when I asked to see it, you know what they told me? "The doctor's too busy to show you that now. You'll probably go through it when you see your regular doctor next. Your leg's obviously not broken because you're walking on it." So what the hell did I just pay all that money for then? Fuck me the medical in this country is retarded. Without that, the cost of getting myself sorted out would have been barely more than the excess to claim from the insurance company. It wouldn't have been worth claiming. Now, I have to go through the whole claims process. And have you tried claiming without a phone? I tried it on Skype. They couldn't hear me though. Said a bad connection. I tried emailing them. It says in the terms that you can do that. That was 2 days ago, and still no reply. They don't sell long-distance calling cards in this damn town. And how much would it cost me to make an international call at a payphone? Might not even be worth claiming.

After all this fun time wasting my money on the Canadian medical system, I still had to be in work for the late shift. It's amazing how fast bad news travels. Before I'd even got to the mountain, people knew I was fucked. I think Adam told one person, and news just spreads like wildfire. I get in and one of the first people I see is my supervisor. We have a quick chat. And already short on lifty's (more on that later), he says to me, that if I want it, I still have a job here. I can work the gondola for the next week or so. Then as I get a bit more used to being a cripple, I can start working other lifts that don't involve skiing. The magic carpet. The mile 1 (you can ride that lift down). He didn't use those exact words, but that was the jist of it. Being told I might not be skiing again this season, I had considered my options. Do I really want to be working on a ski resort, unable to ski? I mean that's a pretty depressing concept. Sitting around all day, watching everyone have all the fun that you want to be having. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to stay. Afterall, who, in todays employers market, is going to hire a cripple for an unskilled job? It's just not going to happen. I could either stay at the resort where I know I have full-time work for the next 6 weeks, and grin and bare it. Or I could leave, and damn near guarantee that I'd have no job within the next 6 weeks, have no familiar infrastructure around me, ie a place to live, a local doctor, and end up just living off my savings. As much as it's depressing to do, I don't really see that I have much choice but to stay for the season. Do all my healing when I have a job operating a gondola, which means sitting there all day, chatting to people. Because right now, that really is all I'm good for.

You know the worst thing about this job though; you see everybody. Everybody. Apart from a select few guests who live in the upper village, and the occasional employee who drives to work, nearly everyone at the resort will ride the gondola at some point in the day. And I just did 7 straight days working there. All of my Mile 1 and Champagne shifts became gondola shifts, so if I was looking for a positive, I guess there it is. But every fucker I don't know who rides the gondola, insists on telling me how great the snow is at the moment. I mean, we've had some pretty heavy snow fall, pretty much since I was too crippled to ski. And I don't know how many times in a day, people will ask me how my knee is. But like I said, news travels like wildfire in this place. Everyone I know, and a butt-load of people I don't, know I'm crippled. And everyone has to ask how my knee is. Fuck it's a pain. And I'm working the one lift, I just can't get away from it. It's going to be a long 6 weeks.

And now, living like a hermit, my body is deteriorating at an alarming pace. At work, now I just sit there all day. At home, I just sit there all day. I only move now for essential tasks, because, well, that's really all I can do. And unable to do things like get to the supermarket as much as I need to, I'm eating out more and more. And that's not healthy food. I can literally look in the mirror everyday, and see myself deteriorate. I'm eating crap. I'm barely moving in a day. On doctors orders, I'm even taking painkillers 4 or 5 times a day, which is something I'm really not too appreciative of. I just don't take medical drugs normally. Don't want them. Don't need them. In fact, back on 23 May 2008, I even wrote this page on medicine. I haven't read it since, and can't remember the details of it. But I'm pretty sure it will give some reason as to why I don't want to be taking medicinal drugs. But I'm kind of expecting to My zimmer splint hit rock bottom before long. Having to live like a hermit to heal up my knee, by the time the next 6 weeks are up, I'll be in the worst physical condition that I've been in for some years. That after I came here with such high hopes of how I'd be able to combine skiing with gym work to become a true physical specimen. It's going to mean a Summer of breaking my balls to get back into shape. But I'm looking at this as I can either sit here and get depressed about the whole situation. Stuck on the gondola getting fat whilst everyone else is lapping up the fresh powder we've all been craving for the past couple of months. Or I can make the most of it. Afterall, things do turn out the best for the people that make the best of the way that things turn out. My flexibility should improve. Have you ever tried getting dressed when you can't physically bend your knee? Try getting your socks on. I'll have the most supple hamstrings in the world. I'm the kind of person who rises from adversity. When I look in the mirror and see a fat fucker looking back at me, I get motivated and driven to do something about it. I've got what? 6 weeks? 8 weeks until I can get back to hard physical exercise? I'll be like a caged animal by the end. And all I'll have to do is keep that drive and make sure that 6 months from now, I'm in even better condition than when I arrived here. I can be thankful that I still have a job, and a boss that wants me here. Not everyone has that at the moment (something for later). And in looking around, I should maybe be thankful I haven't done anything more serious. There's a couple of staff with broken legs. Can't work. Might never walk properly again. All I've got is a bit of ligament damage. Damn pussy injury. Nothing I can't bounce back from.

So I'll admit I'm a little down with the whole situation. But like anything, just look at people worse off than you are to cheer you up. There's like, millions of people in Africa dying of AIDS. Now they're proper fucked. I have a job, savings, and apart from one joint, a perfectly healthy body. I feel better already. And, without skiing, I needed a new hobby. So I've taken up drinking instead. I've become with alcohol, what most people already were. Before I came out here, I just drunk to get fucked up. I didn't see the point of having one or two drinks. I'd go 2 weeks with no alcohol. Then I'd drink 2 weeks worth of alcohol in one night. Now on the other hand, I just have 2 or 3 drinks in the evening. Seemingly rum and coke a lot. It's my new hobby. Just until I can get back to skiing/gyming, depending on the time of year that I'm healed. Maybe not the best hobby to have. But like any drug, it's only a problem if one of 2 things happen. Either you become reliant on it to get through your day. Like most people are with caffeine for example (don't get me started on that). Or it impacts on how you live your day. I'm still finding the time to get done everything I need to get done. And now instead of drinking orange juice in front of the TV, now I drink rum and coke. It's pretty much the same thing.

And doing this whole 'looking on the bright side' thing, I have now been given the gift of time. The gondola shift finishes 2½ hours before the next bus everyday. And I can't hitch back to town, because, well have you ever seen a car with enough leg room for someone who can't bend their leg? Me neither. So I have to get the bus, and hope it's not so full that I can't have a double seat. And what do you do at a ski resort for 2½ hours when you can't ski? Could have a hot-tub. But I've been recommended to stay away from them with this injury as well. I just take my laptop into work with me. And I have 2 hours a day online. It's a lot more than I need. But I can get things done.

For example, when I went to the doctors and hospital on Tuesday, I was expecting there would be a fair bit of waiting around. There was in fact, a lot less than I'd predicted. However I was still thankful that I'd taken with me one of the 3 books that I currently own in Canada. A book on working in nearly every location around the world. (The other 2 are the rough guide to Canada, and a book on HTML and CSS) And I was reading up on South America. I want to go there. I've always wanted to go there. And it appears that to get work down there, which will be a requirement for any degree of long-term stay, I will almost certainly need to be teaching English. It's pretty much the only job that they'll give to white people from what I can tell. And having been just as far South as Southern Mexico, I know that you aren't going to get too far in South America without speaking at least a little Spanish. I know, the very, very, basics. And I could just about get by on holiday there (as detailed in the Mexico blogs pre-departure). But to work in South America somewhere, Bolivia very possibly, I would need more. So I need 2 things before I go there (if I go there). A decent grasp of Spanish. And some degree of qualification in teaching English. The teaching thing would probably be something I'd have to pay to get taught to me. I know there's some place that you can learn in Vancouver, so if I end up there after Pano, then that'd be on my list of things to do. But teaching myself Spanish... with the right tools, I could do that. So I set about searching for some Spanish learning software. And I found something that sounded perfect. Rosetta Stone, Version 3 Spanish (Latin America). Just $649.99 for levels 1, 2 and 3. Bargain! Apart from the $649.99 part. What kind of mug do they think I am?

It was ironic. I had never heard of a website called The Pirate Bay until they were being sued. I like to keep track of the technology section on the BBC news website, because I find that is where the articles regarding the latest government privacy invasions will be hidden. Plus it pays to keep up with technology in todays world. Well it just so happened that The Pirate Bay were being sued for providing so many top quality links to protected content such as pirate movies, games, music... and as it turns out, language software. So man, the way I look at it, if they're being sued, it must mean that they're doing something right. So in suing The Pirate Bay, I've been alerted to this portal to all this great, usually overpriced software. So as I type, I am now 69.6% of the way through downloading Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America). All 1.18gb of it. We'll see how it actually plays once it finishes. But I just love the irony. Me, and I wonder how many other people, had never heard of The Pirate Bay before they were being sued. Now I've told loads of people. And maybe they've told loads of people. And soon everyone will know where to get all this great free content. And the best thing about it, is that although I've neglected to follow this story since then, they were obviously unsuccessful in their lawsuit, because the website is still up and going strong. They just provided them with a butt-load of free publicity. And maybe to add that extra kick in the teeth to the big corporations, The Pirate Bay even have a section called 'Legal threats' on their website, almost gloating about the threats they've received from companies like Microsoft and Apple. It's brilliant. If I could be a website, I'd want to be The Pirate Bay. So now, thanks to them being sued, I may be able to save myself over $600 on Spanish software. And hey, maybe I'll teach myself French afterwards. Just because I can. There's a 14gb file on The Pirate Bay that has all the Rosetta Stone languages in it. It's the best website ever. I just wish they'd sued them earlier. I even have 2 hours a day after work to teach myself Spanish now. See what I mean about looking on the bright side? I get to do a job all day where I get to sit there doing nothing. Which is what I'm good at. And there's a whole world of free content to me out there. And I don't even have AIDS yet. Life is great.

I'm still writing this on Friday night. I got a lot more done today than I thought I would. Especially seeing as I stopped writing on multiple occasions to do things like watch TV, eat a salami and cheese sandwich, and download porn. And I don't have too much more to say. However, I'm a hermit now, so need something to do tomorrow, so I may as well stop for the night now and pick this up again in the morning. Or afternoon. Sometime tomorrow. So anything from this point will have been written on Saturday. Just in case it gets confusing because I start talking about something that happened yesterday. Or will happen tomorrow. Or will happen in 2 days on Monday. So you know, anything above this paragraph was Friday. Anything below it was Saturday. Now I feel it necessary for me to spend some time on my new hobby.

--- ZZZ zzz ZZZ zzz ZZZ ---

Man so it's already 18:45 on Saturday. Fuck knows what I've been doing all day to only get around to writing this now. It's been a fun day. I've been looking out the window at the heavy snow falling. Really loving the fact that I have a full-leg splint on my left leg, and I can't even walk properly. Let alone ski. Though on the plus side, I don't have AIDS yet. So every cloud...

I've not really got too much more to add to this blog. I covered anything of any real importance in my life since my last blog, when I wrote yesterday. One thing that I did say yesterday a couple of times that I'd cover though, was why I'm thankful to be kept on in a full-time capacity. Despite the fact I'm officially a retard for the next few weeks. Maybe they're keeping me on to tick a couple of boxes. And I guess now I have an excuse to use the disabled toilets. Not that I wouldn't use them anyway. I mean they're the best ones. You get twice as much space. You have handles all about. I actually think it's discrimination against able-bodied people that the handicapped's get the awesome toilets, and we get stuck with the little shitty ones. However as I officially count as a retard now, it's something that I'm willing to let slide.

So yeah. This has been a rubbish season for Panorama. The lack of good snow combined with the economic retardedness of the world has meant that Pano has been losing a butt-load of money this year. The English are to blame for a lot of this, because apparently they normally come over by the plane load. But Zoom going bust has fucked that whole arrangement up. And I think one of those major tour operators that went under might have had a lot to do with promoting Pano as well. So although there's been some level of English's here, apparently not as many as normal. Still too many Northerners though. You can take the Northerner out the North, but you can't take the North out of the Northerner. You'd think, 5,000 miles away from home, in the Canadian rockies, that they could act like normal people. Still the same old retardeds though.

Discounting the English though, this has still been a shit season. The locals know that the snow has been shit. And I'm sure that they provide the majority of day purchases, but they've been staying away. And things have got so tight that everyone's been affected. Feeling the impact of a recession I guess you could say. I wrote about how 3 lifty's got fired earlier in the season, allegedly because the mountain wanted to get the snowmakers accomodation off of their books. And since then, people have been getting laid off left, right and centre. People in food and beverage have been let go or demoted. The ski patroller who I got treated by when I hurt my knee had been laid off about 2 days later. The lifty's even have a social budget, of which about $600 was remaining. That got taken away from us. Now we have to fund our own end of season party. And on top of all of that, people have been getting fired for the littlest things. The mountain is using any excuse it can to get rid of people. So I guess I should be thankful that for some reason they want me to stay. To pay me by the hour to sit there on the gondola.

One thing that I really don't understand though, is that there has been a company-wide freeze on all hirings. That makes some degree of sense. But why is that the case for lifty's? We're paid by the hour, and there's only a certain number of places to work everyday. So it'd be near impossible for us to over-work. Yet one lifty quit a couple of weeks ago. She was never replaced. And then just last week, another got fired. She was never replaced either. We're already 2 short. I guess maybe that's why I'm staying on. Can't afford to lose any more. Even if some of us are crippled and retarded. I almost feel like I'm feeling the effects of the first recession in my working life. But then I think about it, and I can't even walk and I have work still. This whole recession thing isn't so bad.

But about how I was saying that they were finding any excuse to fire people. The lifty that got fired last week was Sara. A really cool girl. One of the only female lifty's here I can actually stomach to be honest. With some notable exceptions, the most of them just annoy me. You remember Stefan who got fired in that whole episode when the snowmakers needed jobs? Well Sara is his twin sister. And now she's got the axe as well. Why? Stealing. Stealing.

I couldn't fucking believe that. All the bottom-level employees here are paid near minimum wage. So to get by, you help each other out. In the great hall for example, when I'd go for lunch, I have unspoken agreements with most of the people that work there, that they'll charge me say $5 less for my lunch than it should actually cost, and then I'll tip them, $2 for example. We're all paid barely a living wage, so we stick together and help each other out. I save $3 on my lunch. And they get an extra $2 in their tip jar. Is that stealing? Maybe to the letter of the law. But we're talking about a multi-million dollar company here, owning multiple resorts. Well it was for something along these lines that got Sara fired. A few different versions of what actually happened are floating about. But it seems to be that she put some chilli in a coffee cup, and then paid for it with a free coffee voucher that we get, or something along those lines. And she was just unlucky enough that a manager happened to be standing around and sees this, calls it in, and she gets canned. A really good lifty, and one of the nicest people working here, gets fired for that. When every single person here does it. I mean I do things like that everyday. I can't remember the last time I paid the full (employee discounted) price for a meal. It could just as easily have been me. It could just as easily have been any one of the other liftys, housekeepers, or any of the other minimum wage staff here. And I know that they know that everyone does this. A figure of $3,000 has been banded about. I don't know about the accuracy of that. But that is a figure I've heard, for how much stock is missing from the great hall. If they needed to make an example out of someone, why didn't they just wait until one of the shit employees that no one likes was stealing something, and make an example out of them? Like Laura. No one would have battered an eye lid. But they got rid of one of the best employees; whom had flown out here all the way from Denmark, for stealing. When in reality, they would have to clear out nearly all the employees, apart from the ones that no one likes, for stealing, based upon their interpretation of the law. It's bullshit. How the fuck else are you supposed to live on minimum wage. I already shop at the bargain store and barely go out. And just as I'm able to build up a little savings from my pay, I have to fork out around $350 for medical fees because of this countries retarded medical system. It's not stealing. It's compensation for getting a shit pay.

And now, since they've brought in these no stealing rules, I'm having to pay full-price for stuff. I say full price, I mean at my employee discount price of 40% off. But it's still too much. But in the shake-up in the aftermath to all of this, the staff in the great hall have all had the shits put up them, and they're too scared to give anything away for free now. It's really screwing me over. Maybe I'll be able to claim some kind of disability benefit. Put that towards my new expense of full-priced food.

There's also rumours of plain-clothed investigators now roaming the great hall. I don't really belive that. But it's pretty funny. They're having to bring in mall-cops to police their own staff. It's genius.

Oh yeah. And for some reason the staff have been told that they have to watch the lifty's especially carefully. Of all the people stealing stuff from work, apparently we're the worst offenders. The cheek of them! But now anyone who comes in wearing an orange lifty jacket is apparently under heightened scrutiny. Man the big brother at Panorama is watching me. I love it how I should have been fired about 100 times this year. And yet even as a cripple, I'm still told that I'm wanted here. I'm good at my job. But I do a butt-load of firable things on the side of this. And yet good lifty's, and good employees in all departments are being laid off left right and centre. And I bet you they'll catch AIDS before me aswell. Because even as a cripple, I've got the midas touch!

Now isn't it ironic that having told the landlords weeks ago that we needed a new lock fitted, that we're now finally getting one put in this Tuesday or Wednesday. Just in time for me to fuck up my knee 3-fold and possibly end my season. Shit happens though eh! Look on the bright-side and things become a lot cherrier. I think that's a word. It should be. If I'm not able to ski all season, then there's no chance of me getting a really serious injury from skiing. That's the brightside. And it'll be a damn shame if I never get to see the Champagne Express chairlift again. Never get to see the hundreds of mountains peaks stretching off over the horizon from the summit ever again. But on the bright-side, my dominant memory won't be the sadness of saying goodbye. I can remember the good times. Fingers crossed though, 3 or 4 days from now, I might be able to get through my front door. How cool will that be?

And you know something, ever since Greg didn't open the door to let me in last Monday, and I wanted to kill him, we've been getting on really, really well. It's not like we've ever not got along. But we seem a lot closer right now. Strange how that happens eh! Maybe it's because I've taken up drinking to replace skiing. And alcohol makes people eternally happy. That's what's so great about it. But something's different.

I really am done writing now I think. Apart from 2 things. Firstly, you should have noticed that there was the option to play music with this blog at the top of the page. I added that this morning. Thought it fit the tone of the blog. Might do that again in the future. Set the tone of what's to come with music. Add some tension... Secondly, it's been what? 16 days since I wrote the last blog entry. Part of that was because of the shit happening with my knee. Part of it was because on my last days off I had fuck-all to really say and I was feeling sorry for myself because I had to lay on the couch for 2 days rather than ski fresh powder at Panorama and then go to Lake Louise. After which I had 7 straight days of work. But I think partly, I've just lost the motivation to write right now. It's seeming more of a chore and a hassle than it is something that I actually want to do. Once I get started I can ramble on about all sorts of crap for hours. And enjoy doing it. With limited mobility, what the fuck else am I going to do? You know? I probably didn't even register half of the stuff that I've written in this blog. I just type out what my brain comes up with. And with Rockstar energy drink on special at Sobeys right now, my brain has been churning out all kinds of crap and my fingers can barely keep up. So I just sit here. And I type. And I enjoy doing it. I mean thinking about what I've written here, I could have written it all in what? One or two paragraphs? One about the knee. One about how we aren't allowed to steal anymore. I could have been done by 5'O clock yesterday. But as it turns out, once I sit down, and once I start typing, then man! I really love writing. But the motivation to start writing has been missing lately. Which is the other reason that it was 16 days between blogs. That's got to be the longest since I started writing. With the exception only of the break I took to go to Mexico. So what I'm trying to get to, in a really long-winded way, is that I might start making some changes.

Why does text have to be the only medium that I use to record my thoughts? Why not use video? Why not use audio? Because one thing I'm sure of, is that I definitely want to keep on recording my memories of my travels. Pictures are great. But I want to record my thoughts and my feelings, and what I was doing as I took those pictures. And right now, apart from for editing purposes, I've never once read back a blog I've ever written, just for the pleasure of seeing what I wrote. But I wouldn't expect to want to now. That's something that I'll want to do in the future. When I've finally conceded that I have to start a career and I'm stuck in a 9-5 job wishing I was dead everyday, then I'll be able to look back and relive the life that I once had. That is why it's important to record these memories. It'll be like my sanctuary from the reality of what my life has become. But if it's beginning to feel like a chore to type these memories, then why not video them? Why not record them as mp3 files? Why does the only medium that I use to record my thoughts, have to be text? That's the point that I'm getting at drugged up on Rockstar energy. Whether or not I do actually make any change, the blogs will still be recorded in the same place. But when you click on the link one day, instead of pages and pages of text as there is right here, maybe next time there will be a video blog instead. Maybe. Maybe not, I don't know. Because as long as Rockstar is on special offer, writing really doesn't seem to be too much of a problem. But I'm just being open to evolving how I record myself. Because if it becomes something that I don't want to do, then I don't think I'm going to be able to produce any degree of content that I'm going to want to look back on at any time in the future. Or anything that anyone else would want to read for that matter. So... just look out I guess it what I'm trying to say. Might be some changes in the medium that I use.

Anyway, I'm so drugged up on caffeine, taurine, guarana, and whatever the hell else they put in Rockstar, that I could probably go on writing for days. Even though I don't have shit that I want to say. So common sense is telling me to stop now. Because I've already written 15 printable pages this blog. And I didn't really have anything too important to say. That's why I haven't written for 16 days. So although I could go on forever, I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't write anything that anyone would actually want to read, including me. So I'm going to reluctantly cut this one off right here. It would make sense to read through this to correct any grammatical errors before the Rockstar wears off. Because then I'll just be on a come-down, with 15 fucking pages to read. So I am out. Maybe I'll write another blog soon. Or maybe I'll film it. Who knows? Maybe the life of a cripple really isn't too exciting and I'll really have nothing to say. Life is just full of questions. Jro, done.

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