Monday, February 21, 2005

Time has no meaning

What day is this? Oh yeah, Monday. Thought it was Sunday, or maybe Wednesday. It all seems like Saturday after Saturday. How many days have I been working? Will it end?

This is the mental state of someone working in a recreation-related business during Vacation Week. These are the unsung – and sometimes cursed – individuals making the snow, holding the lift chairs, serving the meals, working in the shops, teaching the ski lessons and probably working the longest hours of their winter season to make sure that the people who came to have fun can have it.

This is The Big One for winter recreation businesses; the week when people who wouldn’t ordinarily do whatever it is will try it, be it cross-country or downhill skiing, snow boarding or snowmobiling. It may be the only opportunity these people have to do a whole lot of playing outside in the winter.

By the end of President’s Day Weekend, time has lost all meaning.

We who live here can often forget what it is like to live somewhere else and to have to travel here. And some of us have never lived anywhere else. Like many residents, I’m “from away,” but I’ve never been a Massachusetts resident, although I did impersonate a U Mass student once long ago to get into a cookout. Long, boring story.

The pressure cooker of serving vacationers is not for everyone. By the end of the second weekend it’s not for anyone. Regardless how one promises always to try to be strong, gentle and wise, the sheer numbers are overwhelming even when they don’t set records.

The human flood brings many personality types. A lot of people are in a desperate hurry to enjoy themselves. So they dash around, running stop signs, giving the finger, tailgating. They push and shove in line and snap at the people serving them, because it’s vacation and they have to get as much fun as they can.

Other vacationers have learned to turn off the urgency. I know how hard it is. I used to come up here, all excited. I needed the calming influence of quiet people to remind me how to relax.

Absorbing all that energy takes energy. Imagine one of those badges that indicates how much radiation a person has absorbed while working in a nuclear facility. If we wore them in the vacation business, they would be completely black by about Thursday.

On the second Sunday night, the survivors gather here and there for a drink, a few tired tales, or just to stare into space, blank, drained.

After the February vacations only the devoted skiers remain. A few new ones will drop by, but the trend is downward. The funny part is, the best of skiing lies ahead in most winters. Daylight in March approaches and then surpasses 12 hours. The snow makes its transition to spring. We often get some good storms in March, so we get a few powder days and more snow to consolidate for the spring snow pack.

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