Hitching to go

Having to be at Pano for an orientation early yesterday morning, I don't recall too much else happening the night after I wrote the last blog 2 days ago. I definitely didn't go to the pub. Or drink at all for that matter. I think as about as exciting as it got, was I tried walking through town afterwards to see if I could find anywhere in town that would sell an Xbox. There was one electrics store, that was out of stock of all games consoles. They might have some in next week. And I also tried the video rental store. And they didn't sell any at all. I've since found out that they do rent out consoles, but only at a stupid price. We would only need to have rented it for a couple of weeks, and we would have covered the cost of buying one. So that's a no go. You can't get any damn consoles in this town. No Xbox. No PS3. Not even a Wii. I'm not used to this. Normally I'd be able to buy virtually anything I could need by walking into town. Here, you can't even buy a games console. The next decent sized town is apparently an hours drive away, so it's not like I could just catch the bus and pop-off to try and find one. Not used to this!

But yeah. That was pretty much my evening if I remember right. And apart from a trip to Sobeys on the way home, that was about as exciting as it got.

Yesterday morning however, I had to kind of start work properly. And by start work, I mean go to a stupid orientation. That was at 09:00, so pretty much everyone in Invermere was trying to catch the 08:15 shuttle bus. And for some reason, when I'd caught the bus up yesterday, it was a proper coach. The same kind of thing as a Greyhound you'd expect to catch. This morning for some reason, they decided to have a much smaller bus. Like a large mini-bus if that makes sense. And although it could hold quite a few people, it couldn't fit everyone on. In fact I was one of the last 3 people to actually get onto this bus. Fuck knows how everyone else got there. Probably had to hitch their way to the orientation. A good start for them.

Once we were at the mountain, we went into this hall. There was maybe 100 staff members here. Everyone was pretty friendly, so it was easy to talk to people I didn't know. Not that it mattered too much, because I've met enough people over the past week or so, that there were plenty of faces in there that I did know as well. But once the actual orientation bit did start, I was almost wishing that I had missed the bus.

Each of the senior staff members did a little 5 or 10 minute piece introducing themselves. And it started off with Nicole. She was the person who gave me my phone interview back in July or whenever it was. It was good to put a face to the voice. And we got all this stuff about not drinking on the bus etc., because it's illegal in BC. Apparently to run this shuttle throughout the Winter costs the company around $80,000 - $90,000. You'd think that they'd at least be able to get a bus big enough to fit everyone for that money. One thing that I liked that she said though, was the reason that everyone had been hired. She was kind of justifying how everyone had passed the interview process, and it was pretty much all about personality. They didn't want shy, retarded people. They wanted people who would be open. Who would speak to guests, make them laugh, that kind of thing. So although I take such a compliment with a pinch of salt, it's still good to know you got hired because of your personality. Though seeing as most of us are being paid just above minimum wage, you can't take it as too much of a compliment. It's not like they will have had much of a choice of good staff for that pay. Though in saying that, I've spoken to a lot of people who've left very well paid jobs to work here for the Winter. They just want to live the kind of, skiing lifestyle. So they've forfeit proper jobs to come and bum around for the Winter.

And these talks carried on from various managers for a while. And there was even someone from a sexual health clinic down to give us a talk. They obviously don't hold us in the highest regard in that respect. But it was the normal, boring crap you'd expect from an orientation. I'd been up since 07:00 though. So I wasn't really in the mood to listen to people who were going to talk absolute bullshit. So one of the guys steps up to talk. I think he was a VP or something. He held quite a powerful position. But he just stank... stank, of business degree. In fact, thinking about it, there was one person who said that he had a degree from Dalhousie, which is the university that I was on exchange at a couple of years ago. I'm not 100% if that was him or not. But his whole drivvle just bled business degree. All common sense had been taken away. And instead we were getting quoted some crap from a text book that an "academic" had come up with one day to make a bit of money. The kind of crap that I'd tend to see right through. But this guy was preaching this bullshit.

"We aren't selling skiing holidays, we're selling memories." He'd go on about selling fucking memories for a while. Then he started the crap about the difference between a persons function, and their purpose. Like a servers function may be to serve drinks, but their purpose is to give the customer a wonderful, life-changing experience. That kind of bullshit. The stuff that I would sleep through during my lectures. But the bit that really got me, was how he was banging on about how people's attitudes would impact the kind of experience that customers would have. Which I fully agree with when interacting with customers. But for some reason, he chose to use housekeeping as the department to show an example of this. Like saying that if you clean the room with a smile and with passion, it'll be cleaner than if you clean it in a bad mood. Something like that. I mean, are you fucking kidding me. Do you really think guests are going to move into a room, and think wow. My bath is so shiny. And can you feel all the positive energy that that cleaner left behind. Isn't it just radiating throughout me. I mean fuck in hell. This jackass must have read a text-book in his office, then ran downstairs as quick as his little legs could carry him before he forgot it all, and just spewed everything he had read all over us.

I don't sell memories. For minimum wage, I don't sell memories. For minimum wage, I just sell ski holidays. It was just the kind of theory that would give you an A in the classroom. But in the real world, it's all bullshit. I was sat next to someone from housekeeping during all of this. And he was thinking the exact same thing as me. If you clean a bath when you're happy, it doesn't make it any cleaner than if you clean it when you're pissed. Especially as I found out later, the housekeepers get paid based on their productivity. Ie, the more rooms they clean, the better their pay. Are they really going to be fussed about leaving positive energy for the guest? No. They're going to want to get the stupid room clean, as quickly as possible so they can get more money. Fuckin eh! We're selling memories. What a load of crap. In fact, selling memories was something to do with the companies mission statement. And anyone with the common sense of a chimp knows that a mission statement isn't worth the paper it's written on. I guess if business graduates ever run the world, this is the kind of crap we'll have to put up with. Needless to say, this jackass didn't make the best first impression on me.

And we had a few of the staff introduce themselves. Which was nice, because as many people had had to get the early bus from Invermere, it gave everyone a chance to catch up on some sleep.

And after that, we had some team-bonding. Yay. We had to put ourselves in alphabetical order, and then tell everyone a talent. Are you fucking kidding me? Team-bonding exercises now. The only way this made people bond, was the unanimous view that this was a stupid fucking exercise. But I was being paid to be here. So I suppose I'm willing to play these stupid business textbook games for money. And after that we all got split up into 3 groups. The only problem here is that we were all in alphabeical order. So most of the people I've now met at Pano, have a name that starts with the letter J. Which will just make things even more confusing. I'm bad enough at remembering names as it is.

In these 3 groups, we then had 3 different talks. The one that I started with was the kind of more serious one. The first half of this one was all about how to be happy at work. Or how to make work fun, or something like that. And they showed us a video documentary of the fish-market in Seattle where they throw around all the fish to have fun at work. And they insisted on this video that you could translate this fun into any working environment. Which I must dispute. I used to get in shit all the time for playing catch across the swimming pool with the life-saving ropes when I worked as a lifeguard. And how the fuck do you have that on a mountain? Start throwing snowballs at guests when they're sat on the ski-lift. The reason I wanted the ski-lift job is so I could just sit there with my hands down my pants all day. Like when I was working as a lifeguard. I mean that's just what I do best. If I wanted a job where I actually had to do something, then I would have asked for a catering job or something. But it was still quite an entertaining video.

And then we got a talk about the 4p's of service. See what I mean about it all coming straight out of a text-book. I don't really remember what was said here. I kind of just zoned out and slept with my eyes open during this bit.

This talk culminated with one of the mountain safety guys giving a talk about mountain safety. And this bit was worth listening to. He was saying where we could and couldn't go on the mountain. And why some areas would suddenly close. But where this guy was really worth listening to, was he started talking about people going off-piste. Ie, going off the mountain and skiing in the back-country. And the safety issues with this. And he called on the time he was caught in an avalanche as a kind of scare tactic. And fuck me, it worked. Saying how he was trapped under all this snow that was compacted so tightly that he couldn't move. And it was pitch black under there. So he was just stuck in this snow, couldn't move a muscle, had snow all in his mouth so tight that he couldn't close his mouth. He likened it to having a pool-ball put in your mouth. So he was just stuck there waiting for someone to rescue him. And apparently, the snow is so compact under there, that if you're in there for very long, your breathing will take all the oxygen out of the snow, and all this snow surrounding you will eventually turn to ice. And the thing that will kill you, is you will eventually suffocate. And it won't take very long to happen either. The reason he was found, and maybe the reason he is alive, is that 4 fingers on his right hand were just poking out of the snow. And a rescuer saw this. And that is how he got saved. There was a guy he was with that apparently landed nearby to where he was, but was completely submerged by the snow for 2.5 metres. And the only thing that saved this other guy, was the first guy could hear him moaning. But it really hit home. A lot of people came out of that talk really kind of, shell-shocked. It scared a lot of people. And I for one can tell you that I won't be going off-piste unprepared at anytime soon. I think I'll be sticking to the nice safe controlled mountain.

The next talk was a bit lighter. I can't really remember what this one was about it was so interesting. I think about staff perks, staff trips, that kind of thing. Which is the main reason that I signed the contract to work here. You don't work at a ski resort to make money. You work here for the experience. And all the staff perks, like the many discounts we recieve. The free ski-passes. The staff trips. It just about justifies having such shit pay. So this one was worth listening to.

And then finally, we had to go to another area to have some health and safety talk. The kind of bullshit that you get at any workplace in the world. The guy giving this actually took it so seriously he'd brought a big golden retriever with him to distract us. He would show us a picture of one fork-lift, being lifted up by another fork-lift, which was lifting a washing machine or something, to get it to a point that neither individual fork-lifts could actually reach. "What's wrong with this picture?" he'd ask. It was the kind of thing where most people would sit there in silence because it was just so blatantly obvious what was wrong with the picture. But then there is always one retard who thinks they're really clever that they spotted that you shouldn't lift one fork-lift up with another, and rockets their hand in the air. I think every person in the room will have had that kind of talk before. I guess the company just has to protect their balls by giving it to us all over again. I spent more time watching the dog in this one.

One perk of the day was a free-lunch. This was in the great hall, where Jay is the chef, and Kirsty seems to work here as well. Collecting plates and shit like that. So I saw them briefly. It was a buffet kind of lunch though, which I was going to make the most of seeing as how expensive food is in this country. Cheese especially, so my plate was just loaded with cheese slices. I actually felt a little sick after eating it all. But who cares. It was free-food. And in my experience, if you don't feel a little ill after a free-for-all, then you didn't get your money's worth. It's like if you don't pass-out in a pile of your own vomit at a free-bar, then you didn't make the most of it. It's just the way it has to be. You take what you can.

Then after-lunch there we were back in the big group of maybe 100 for more talks that I don't remember what they were about. I'm sure they were very important though. I got out pretty soon after this stupid bit. I remember there was something about "happy points" or "staff cards" or something like that. I don't remember what they were called. But they were some reward system that staff had. Something else they probably read about in the Dummies Guide of how to run a business. The stupid thing was that any staff member could give one to any other staff member. So I struck a deal with the guy I was sat next to, that if he gave me one each week, I'd give him one, and we'd look good all Winter. I don't remember what the rest of this bit was about. I didn't have to stay long because the end of the talk was all about people in staff housing. So I got out of there pretty quick. I found out that I had to be back at 11:30 the next morning to open up a bank account, but I was done for this day.

I did a little faffing about, filling time, so it took me maybe 10 or 15 minutes to actually leave. And when I do, it's maybe 3 O'clock. The bus back to Invermere is at 17:15, or maybe even 17:30. So I'm thinking fuck-it. And I don't even know if it's going to be full or not like this morning. How do I even know I'll get a spot? So I decide that while everyone else is stuck in a meeting about staff accomodation, I may as well try and pick up a lift home.

As I'm walking down the steps to leave the mountain, Greg is coming up the other way. It turns out he was coming back to look for me. Why? Because he didn't know how to hitch for a ride. Are you fucking kidding me? I'm no expert. But I'm pretty sure it's standard everywhere. You stick your thumb in the air and hope. Fuckin eh, eh! He's a nice guy. But if you need lessons in how to hitch-hike, I think you might have problems in life. But this was easy. The first car the came by pretty-much, stopped and picked us up. He kind of just stood there as I flagged it down. And then just sat in the back and didn't say a word the whole way, whilst I was chatting to the girl who was driving. As worrying as this sounds, I think he might stuggle to actually do that by himself. This chic giving us a lift lived on our way home, so she took us pretty-much back to the condo. So it was a stroke of luck to get her.

But there it was finished, my first day of work in Canada. I say my first day of work; I didn't actually do anything. But I got paid to be there, so I guess it counts. And listening about all the jobs and talking to other people, I think I've played everything really well so far. I've got a job that is perfect for me. Perfect, except I have to be able to ski. I believe it's Tuesday that we have the training day up the mountain. And if I can get through that day without any real problems, I think from there on, it's all good. I'm actually a little nervous about Tuesday. People keep on telling me, skiing is like riding a bike. Once you can do it, you can always do it. Which is great if it's true. The last time I skiied, I was probably just about at the level I need to be at. But I've only ever skiied twice before. And the second time I skiied, I'd pretty much forgotten everything that I'd learnt the first time. And people say the same thing about ice-skating. Once you can do it, you can do it forever. But I used to be able to ice-skate as well. And when I went last Christmas in Hull, I'd pretty much forgotten it all. So I'm actually a little nervous about Tuesday. If I can get through there without getting fired or making a complete nob of myself, then I think I'm all good. I just need to get through Tuesday. And it doesn't look like I'll get a chance to practise my skiing at all before then. So I really am hoping it's like riding a bike and I can remember how to do it.

Another thing that has become blatantly clear, is that there really isn't much snow. Locals that I'm talking to are telling me that at this time of year, usually everything is completely white. You can't see grass anywhere. The roads are white. The mountains are completely covered. Yet this year, there just isn't any snow. And to me it looks pretty snowy. I mean, the mountain tops are a little white, which is more than I'm used to in London. But whenever I say this to a local, they're almost in shock. One I was speaking to was saying that he'd been skiing for a month this time last year. I said before I came out here, that with the climate warming, it has to be only a matter of time until skiing is just a thing of the past. I just hope that it isn't this year. Well so far it's looking borderline. People seem to think it'll chuck it down soon, and then it'll be snowy for the Winter. But nothing so far. I wish the dumbass "drill baby drill" Americans were here to see this. And every other country and person reluctant to believe and act on climate change. It's kind of like dealing with little kids when it comes to countries like the US and China. They can't see beyond the next 5 years. "Why should we be green when they aren't?" When the real questions they should be asking themselves aren't petty childish things like that. They should really be asking themselves what the world will be like in 10 years if they don't change. Will there still be skiing? I don't know. The planet is continually warming at a rate faster that people predict. People I speak to who've lived here their whole lives, they've never known a Winter like this. Yet the ignorace of people mean it's only going to get worse. It was great of Obama to pledge that the US will have cut emissions 80% by 2050. Not having regular Internet, I haven't been able to read up on this properly. But what the fuck kind of pledge is that? If alive, Obama won't have been president for over 30 years come 2050. How about making a pledge by 2012? Or by 2016? Something that he can actually be judged on. Because that strikes me as the childish attitude of ignoring the greater problem for personal gain that other leaders and countries do. Like Gordon Brown. He leached off climate change when it was flavour of the month. But all of a sudden it doesn't matter, and we need cheaper oil now the economy is in trouble. What's in it for me? People get into positions of power, because that is the question that they always ask themself. And they don't suddenly change once they get there. They still have the 'what's in it for me' attitude. And that's why we're in such shit now. Yet anyone who has the power to do anything about it, doesn't. They just make false pledges that they can't be held accountable to, like targets for the year 2050, when, with any luck, they'll be dead already. I just want to know what the final wake-up call will be. I arrived here just as the hurricane season was over. And it was one of the worst ever. As all recent hurricane seasons have been. Natural disasters as a whole have greatly increased. Yet the thousands dead don't convince people to change. We just have to produce more, and more, and more, and more. Economies are supposed to grow. And more growth means more production. And more production means more resource use. But why? We don't seem to have any reasoning to want to grow, and grow, and grow. Yet we're doing it as fast as we can. Like someone running in the wrong direction, but doing it as fast as they can. They're not even going the right way. But dammit they're going to get there as fast as possible. But in reality, every step they take, they move further and further away from where they need to go. That is how I liken human development. And the weather that is freaking out the locals here, is just one in an infinite number of demonstrations of that.

Once we were back at the condo, I don't think I left for the rest of the day. I was planning on heading back up the mountain tomorrow, and right up until bed, I was planning on getting the 08:15 bus again. So on that assumption I settled down to watch the Chargers demolish the Raiders. And... I actually did my first laundry since getting to Canada. Not that I needed to. I'd barely used any clothes I'm so hygenic. But seeing as I was going to be in all night, why not? Get my whole wardrobe clean.

What I actually had to do at the mountain, was take my skis to be waxed, fill in some employee forms, and do a couple of other bits and bobs. One of which was open up a bank account. Which I was scheduled to do at 11:30. So I was planning on getting the 08:15 bus. But just before going to bed, I decided fuck it. I'll have to hang around for 3 hours if I do that. I'll just make my own way to the mountain later on. Have an extra 90 minutes in bed.

So instead I got up at 08:30. I tried to call the mountain to see if there was a later bus at anytime. They'd said yesterday that because of the problems with not enough space yesterday, they might change the bus schedule to add more trips. But I couldn't get through to anyone so I thought I'll just make my way there.

I guess I left the condo at about 09:30. I had my skis over my right shoulder. And the plan was to walk down to Panorama Drive. That's the start of the long road that goes from Invermere to Panorama. I figured I'd be able to pick up a lift from there pretty easily, because there really isn't too much down that road, apart from Panorama 18km away. But as I was getting there, I was thinking that this was stupid. The start of Panorama Drive was only a 3 minute walk from those 2 ski shops that I went in when I first went out looking for skis. And I'm sure I'd be much more pickupable without skis, because there would be less stuff to fit into a car. Even if most people do drive trucks here. So instead of logging my skis all the way to Panorama to get them waxed, I decided to take them into one of the ski shops here. The one that I maybe sounded a little distrusting of the owner last time I was here, was the nearer of the two, so I went in there.

Now I'm not going to lie. I have absolutely no idea what waxing is. I have no idea how much it costs. I just don't know. All I know is that it needs to be done. He quoted me $10 or $15 to get them waxed. He wasn't even sure. But it wasn't going to break the bank regardless, so I left them with him. I said I'd be back at sometime after 4 this afternoon to pick them up.

Without skis, I was able to pick up a lift really easily. There is also an industrial estate at the head of Panorama Drive. And I love it how the people who didn't stop to pick you up actually motioned apologetically that they were stopping just here. They actually feel bad for not helping you. It's really cool.

It only took 5 minutes, and after a little while, a guy called Geoff stopped in a pick-up truck and let me in. He was working something in real estate down at the mountain. I think that maybe there's a realtors down there. He was fun to talk to though. Had a really good drive down there. He couldn't really get over the fact that I was called Jethro. Which a lot of people here seem to struggle with. It was a fun drive though. I probably shouldn't have told him that people once called me J-Rock, as in named after the guy in Trailer Park Boys (which I've never seen). He didn't let that go for the whole journey. Fun guy though. Even gave me his card. He had some snowboard boots for sale, so I needed to pass on his details to anyone who I met who wanted any. He also said, I think as a joke, "if you know anyone who's looking for a house, then send them my way." That was a fun journey though.

Once I was there, it was somewhere around 10:15. So I'd saved myself a lot of waiting around by doing things this way instead of catching the 08:15 bus. The first place I went to was Can Ski. That's the ski shop on the mountain. I get a 20% staff discount there, so I wanted to see if they had any cheap boots. Unfortunately, the cheapest they had were $399, so about $320 to me. I wasn't really willing to go to that. Cut $100 off the price and they'd have had a deal, but I don't want to spend $320. Not when I'll be able to get them at Sportuccino's much cheaper next week.

Then I headed up to the office to fill out all the forms I had to do. There was so much to fill out, it was kind of "here you are. Bring them back when they're finished," rather than letting you fill them out in the office. I guess they didn't want people hanging around all day filling out forms. I got a bus timetable printed out whilst I was here, so at least now I know when the bus does actually go. And I asked about any possibilities of being able to ski before my training started. Apparently there have been staff ski days. But it's unlikely that there will be any more. And I asked about people who'd said you could just walk up a part of the mountain and ski down. That suggestion was definitely not recommended. My options of being able to have a practice ski day before I have to do it in training, are fast evaporating. It looks like I'm just going to have to prey I haven't forgotten how to ski.

Anyway, I went back to the great hall to fill out these forms. What I could understand of them anyway. That was the hall that I'd had lunch in yesterday. It's not even that great of a hall. I did see Jay in the kitchen, but I didn't speak to him at all today. These forms even had questions about bondage on. I can only assume that bondage in Canada means something completely different to what it does in the UK. And I had no idea what the tax forms were going on about either. So I had to leave all that crap.

I still had about 40 minutes until my meeting with a bank rep, so I decided to go and get a BLT bagel from one of the cafes. This was attached to one of the restaurants. And I guess it was a training day for many of the servers. Because there were people in there getting taught how to serve, or wait. God knows why you'd need a whole day of training to do that. But they seemed to have it. But that took me through to around 11:30.

In this huge meeting room, there were 2 girls from the bank sat either end of this really long table. I guess they didn't like each other too much or something. I got sent to one, and I got to discuss my banking options. Yay. Stupid Canadian banks you have to pay for of course. I think had I been a couple of years younger, I may have been able to get an account for free. But not at 23. So I went for the cheapest one. It's going to cost me $4 per month. And that allows me to make 10 transactions per month. Anything more than that is 60¢ per transaction. I know. It's a fucking joke that you actually have to pay to have a bank account in this country. I now have somewhere that my pay cheques can get deposited though. And I have a debit card. I asked about a cheque book, seeing as it's a checking account. You have to pay to have a cheque book as well. Something like $30. To have a cheque book for fucks sake. Man... people in this country get raped. On bank accounts and cell phones... they get absolutely raped.

It had to be done though I suppose. At least now I can get paid. And I found out a little more about post in Invermere and Panorama. Because I still hadn't figured out how the hell I actually get post in this town. Apparently it all gets taken to the central post office in Panorama. And each residency has a box there. Why the hell my landlords didn't tell me about that I don't know. And why I don't have a key for that mail box, I don't know. Maybe they expect to still receive some of their mail there or something so want to keep the key. A bit rich though if I'm going to be living in the house. I should be able to receive mail, no? I'll have to have words with them about that next time I see them. Though on the positive side, there is a mail system at Panorama for staff. So I can just get all my mail delivered to work instead. Which might be easier. Though I'm not 100% how that works yet either. Who'd have thought something as simple as figuring out how to get post, would be so tricky.

With a bank account, I could finish off all my forms. Bondage has something to do with being arrested, apparently. Strange country. But with that, I was done with all these damn forms. And I got given a free Panorama baseball cap. A 2008 one. I'll be given a 2009 baseball cap come January. How exciting.

With that all done, I had to hitch back. The fourth time in the past 3 days I needed to pick up a ride. And you know something... I think it's so much fun. Apart from the first time, I haven't had to wait more than 5 minutes for a lift. And this time was no different. I just love it that for 15 minutes each time, you get to speak to someone completely new. This morning, Geoff was a realtor, who started out as a lifty, so was giving me advice on that. This time I got picked up by a nameless guy, who had been down at Panorama putting up Christmas lights. Apparently his parents ran the ski school at Pano. And I got a rather detailed story of the time that a bear came into their house and got stuck in the stair case. It ended with a shotgun and a lot of blood, so I didn't approve of that too much. But that's the fun. You get to speak to someone completely different each time you get a ride. Have you seen in fight-club, where he's talking about having single-serving friends on an airplane? Well it's just like that. Except on an airplane, people aren't always so willing to talk to you. Everyone I've been picked up by so far has been really fun. And it's really quick as well. If it has to become a regular mode of transport to work, I'll only ever give myself 5 minutes to pick up a ride. When I'm done here, maybe I'll try hitch-hiking across Canada. I haven't once been in a car with someone I felt was going to rape me. Not once. Seems pretty safe to me.

This guy took me all the way back to the pub. And once back at the condo, I sat down and started writing this blog. I didn't have the time to get it finished though. A few paragraphs back, I took a break to go and pick up my skis.

I don't know why, but I felt the need to get an A&W whilst I was down at the ski shop. They're nearby to each other. I am turning into such an American though. No exercise. Shit-loads of fast-food. As soon as I get my staff-card, which could have been as early as late this afternoon if I'd hung around at the mountain, I am going straight to the gym! For $2. Now though, it probably won't be until Tuesday that I get it. And I guess if I survive the Tuesday skiing, I'll be in training again on Wednesday. But on Thursday... I'll be straight down the gym. I refuse to turn into an American. I won't do that to my body dammit.

After eating a triple burger combo, I waddled over to the ski shop. I had a look at the boots that they had. I was hoping to find some priced reasonably enough that I could buy them. Then seeing as my skis were in the shop already, they'd probably have been able to sort out the bindings on my skis so that the boots would fit. I assume that something has to be done to them. I don't know for sure. But I assume so. But their boots were just as unreasonably priced as the ones at Panorama. Without the 20% discount. They might be great for a good skiier. But I don't want to pay that for ski boots.

The problem that this leaves me with, is that I need skis, and boots that fit those skis, for Tuesday. Sportuccino's, the cheap ski shop in town, are getting some from a wholesaler in Calgary over the weekend. They told me to come back Tuesday, when they'll have them all ready and on display. Only problem, is that Tuesday is too late for me. So here's my plan. And if it goes wrong, I'm pretty screwed. But my plan is to go to this shop on Monday, in the morning, or at the latest, the early afternoon. They like me in there, so hopefully they'll get from the back anything that isn't on display. And on previous experience, give me a nice discount as well, but I'm willing to bypass that. But if I could get some new boots at $200 or less, I'd be pretty happy. I'm pretty sure that they won't be able to adjust the bindings here or anything, to get the boots to fit. So from here, I'll probably have to come back to the condo and pick up my skis. And I either get a bus to Pano, if there is one running, and take the skis to the repair shop there and get them fitted. And hopefully be able to leave them at the moutain for going onto the hill the next day. If there is no bus, then just take them back to the shop that I had the skis waxed at today. Pay them whatever they need to get everything fixed up, and hopefully they'll do it there on the spot. Or at an absolute last resort, just take both the boots and the skis to the mountain with me on Tuesday, and hope that I get a chance for the repair people to have a look at them before we go up. I think it said in one of the emails about training that the safety people will have to approve the equipment before you'll be able to use it on the mountain, so fingers-crossed, as an absolute last resort, maybe I could get it done then. But unless I'm willing to part with $400 for a pair of boots (which I'm not), then that is the way it's going to have to be.

I picked up my skis from this place. The owner still hadn't decided how much it was going to be to wax these skis. Speaking to his attendant: "$10... or $15. No, $10." I got charged $10 in the end for waxing the skis. I still don't really know what waxing actually is. They look really smooth now underneath, so I guess it was something to do with that. So I have freshly waxed skis. Cool. I've just got to hope that everything else about them is working now as well. Because getting boots as late as I intend to, if there's something wrong with the bindings, for example, I'm not going to have time to do anything about it. Like I said earlier, I am just waiting for the end of Tuesday. If I get to the end of Tuesday, and I've been able to ski, on my own equipment, without skiing like a total fucking retard, then I'm out of the woods. That is the last point things are likely to go really wrong. So I'm really just looking forward to the end of Tuesday. If, on Tuesday night, I'm sitting in the pub with a beer, and I still have a job, then it's all good. So 4 days from now. Just look forward 4 days. If it's all good then, then it'll stay all good. Fuck I'm scared about Tuesday.

Having my skis back, I threw them onto my right shoulder again, and made the 15 minute walk back to the condo. I ran into Greg just as we were getting to the grassy hill we have to walk down to get to the condo. He'd been into town, including to my favourite shop, Sportuccino's. Apparently he identified himself as my roomate somehow. I think he said that his roomate had been in and bought some skis for $75. And Devyn was there, and said to him "was that Jethro?" She sent a message with Greg to say hi to me. How sweet. I still haven't seen her since she was trashed the other night. But I'm sure that I will on Monday at the latest. God there is so much that can go wrong in the next 4 days! If I do somehow manage to get all-working equipment arranged by Tuesday, which is a big if, then I have to somehow ski on it. And whether I can do that or not, really depends on how high up the mountain we end up going. If we only go up one lift, which I'm hoping, I think there are green runs all the way to the bottom. If I can remember how to ski still, which again is a big if, I should be able to make it down ok. If we go any higher, put bluntly, I am fucked. There is so much that can go wrong with this plan. But if I make it through Tuesday, I'm out of the woods. I have, pretty much my dream job sorted for the Winter. I get to sit in a little hut, half-way up a mountain by myself, for the whole Winter. And I'm not being sarcastic when I say that. I think it'll be awesome. I'm someone who needs time to themself. And I love being outdoors. If I just get to sit there and make sure people don't die all day, I will love it! It'll be like being a lifeguard all over again. When you get to just sit there all day, you get time to think. And I love that. Just letting your mind wonder all day. It'll be a perfect job for me. All I have to do, is get through Tuesday. I'm taking nothing for granted. I might get fired by Tueday. I might fall down the mountain and be dead by Tuesday. I am taking nothing for granted. But if I wake up on Wednesday morning, and I'm still alive and I still have a job... then this will be an awesome Winter. Bring it on.

Seeing Greg was just as I was getting back to the condo. And we chatted for about 10 minutes, before I came into my room to finish writing this blog. He has to be on the morning bus again tomorrow; his training started today. So he's already said no to the pub. Poor boy can't get to sleep before about 03:00. And he has to get up again at 07:00, so he's a little fucked up right now. I might have a few beers in the condo, but despite being a Friday night, I defintitely won't be making any effort to arrange going to the pub. If I get a call, then maybe. But I doubt that I will. A lot of people seem to be in training right now. Which means that a lot of people have to be up for the morning bus tomorrow. And I just want to curb how much money I'm spending. A pint here costs, what? $5.25? Something like that. Add on a tip, and that's $6 per pint. Or sleeve as they're called here, which isn't even a pint. I'm not sure what the deal is with tax here, as in do I have to pay any? But if I do, after tax, I'm probably looking at about an hours work for every pint. So a big Friday night out; that's a days work or more. So looking at it like that, I'm not going to be getting to the pub on too much of a daily basis here I don't think. Being paid what I am, I don't expect to make any money this Winter. Like I said, it's not about making money, coming here, it's about the experience. But now flights etc., have all been paid for, I want to at least break-even for the season. If I can do that and I have fun, then it will have been a success. Although I haven't checked my bank statement yet, I claimed the refund on my Spirit Air flight from Fort Lauderdale to Guatemala City that I needed to get into Canada. And seeing as the £ has weakened versus the US$ since I booked it, I should have actually made a small profit on the purchase. Which will be nice, so my account balance should have seen a little boost by now. Though I'm still yet to see any rent from Greg. I'll be bringing that up again very shortly. So far I've mentioned it just the once. But trust me, I'll get my money.

That is right where I am now. I guess I don't have too much to do tomorrow. I might have a look around town for some extra winter gear. Like face-protection of somekind. My jacket is a god-send. It lasted me in Halifax, so it's doing a great job here. Then I've been wearing those $50 ski pants I got at Winners in Vancouver for the past 2 days. They are really warm as well. And I have a couple of hats, some thick gloves, and some adequate, if not overly warm, shoes. I'm even wearing underarmour under my jacket, so that's all good for the stupid morning temperatures here at the moment. I don't know exactly what they are, but they have to be well into the minuses. At a guess -10° at the warmest. Though I think it's probably colder than that. But one thing that is completely exposed right now, is my face. It's cold enough in the early morning that if you breathe in through your nose, your nostrels stick together. So it'd be nice to get some kind of face warmer. I guess looking around town properly is all I really have to do tomorrow. I still haven't really been into any clothes shops, for example. On Sunday though, I start my departmental training. Then on Monday I need to get my final equipment sorted. Boots are the only problematic thing here, but I still need things like a helmet, poles, goggles etc. Then on Tuesday... On Tuesday, it's D-day. It's sink or ski time. Something has to give. I'll either be really happy on Tuesday night... or I won't. But hell. If everything does go tits-up, at least it'll make a good story. Might make the blog that I write on Wednesday or Thursday a bit more interesting. We will see. "Things turn out best for the people that make the best of the way that things turn out. Things turn out best for the people that make the best of the way that things turn out. Things turn out best for the..."

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