One fun experience was when a charming woman with her two sons in tow came to my tent. She introduced herself as Jackie, and she explained that 28 years ago, she'd been a ski instructor at Heavenly.
|The view from Heavenly|
That was the year my wife and I moved to Tahoe. We wanted to take a break from the real world, so we decided to try the "ski bum" life for a season and got jobs at Heavenly. I worked as a "liftee" helping skiers as they rode the lifts. I asked the supervisor if I could be assigned to the "Mighty Might," a type of rope tow on the beginner hill where skiers grab onto "paddles" attached to the tow.
To give you some perspective, the total vertical drop at Heavenly is 3,600 feet. The total vertical drop of the Mighty Might hill was 10 feet. But you'd be amazed at the trouble (and fun!) beginning skiers can get into with just 10 feet of rise and drop.
The Mighty Might assignment was considered the lamest, most uncool job in the lift department. But I saw an opportunity to make it my own. I put up a blackboard and wrote down the names of countries that the beginning skiers came from. Dozens of countries every day, from all over the world! I put up fun quotes. And when I wasn't busy, I sat in the sun (or in the storms!) and wrote.
When ski instructor Jackie introduced herself in Genoa, she said how she still remembered me on the Mighty Might hill, writing every day on my yellow pad of paper. She was so glad to see that my writing had turned into something.
Then I suddenly remembered her from 28 years ago. And I recalled that my singular impression of Jackie was that she was the nicest, smiling-est instructor at Heavenly. And like me, she didn't consider working the Mighty Might as lame at all. She saw it as an opportunity to help brand new skiers get a great introduction to a fantastic sport in one of the world's most beautiful areas.
As my memory of her came back, I told her two sons about how nice and kind and generous Jackie was with her ski students.
They looked a bit doubtful.
Jackie said, "See boys? I CAN be nice. I HAVE been nice.