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To the man in the turquoise jacket,
I’m wondering if I could have just a moment of your time, that is if you’re not too busy kicking puppies, stealing candy from little kids, or convincing old folks that your multi-level marketing business will make them rich. I am hoping you could tell me, and the rest of the powder day salivating skiers at the base of the 1A chairlift in Aspen the other day, why you are such a massive dickalope?
If you do not remember, please allow me to jog your memory: It had not snowed in the Roaring Fork Valley since just after Christmas, and it’s no secret that low snow turns ski town morale from a blazing fire to barely glowing embers. But in Aspen, skiing chalk and ice and that weird in-between snow peppered with rocks and dirt, makes the mountain life of locals unbearably sour. With discolored snow scarcely toenail deep, it’s harder to justify living in a room that’s really a closet, paying a gag-inducing amount to rent that closet, and working 57 odd jobs to earn that rent. But then that February storm rolled in and blanketed our beloved slopes with almost two feet of pristine Colorado white gold. On mornings like that, rabid dogs froth less than skiers.
And I am sure you were quite excited that morning too, you back alley stray. It must have been a tough snowless month-plus for you having to find alternative ways to entertain yourself, like keying cars, stealing Amazon packages off porches, and using the last square of toilet paper without replacing the roll. You must have thought about that when you waddled up to the enormous line at 1A, which snaked up the hill well past the third lift tower, and decided to push your way to the front of the line. Perhaps you were confused, but when many skiers in line pointed out your mistake and pointed you toward the back, you shrugged your shoulders and stayed put. And you even smirked, which we all could see because, deadly pandemic be damned, you were maskless. No mask, no manners, you miserable dingus.
At the root of your choice to forego powder day lift line etiquette while ignoring the Covid-19 mask mandate is simple selfishness. Your exclusive and excessive concern to get yours by any means necessary violates ever aspect of our well known, albeit unwritten, skier code of conduct.
You can do nearly anything in a ski town, all sorts of nefarious and morally questionable activities, and get away with it. You can flirt with your best friend’s significant other. You can sleep with you boss’ mom. You can “forget” about your bar tab, drop in on someone’s line, no show your work shift, fart in an overcrowded gondola cabin—any number of grotesque public behaviors the general population deems unethical buffoonery are permissible in a ski town. But you cannot cut in line on a powder day, ever. Period.
There’s an idea called the Shopping Cart Theory that you should dig into. Essentially, the theory contends that if a person does not return a cart to the corral—which is not illegal but inherently and objectively the right thing to do—that person is a terrible member of society. It may be the most straightforward litmus test in determining a person’s basic decency.
The most straightforward litmus test in a ski town is the Powder Day Lift Line Principle. It is the social contract all skiers invisibly sign: we all wait patiently in line, even a very long line, and shuffle toward our glorious deep turns in an orderly fashion. We do this, even though we desperately need to get to said turns as quickly as possible. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. Because as much as I want to ski mustache-deep snow, that desire is shared by every other community member surrounding me in line. One desire is no deeper, no more significant than any other. It is a collective desire, our shared unity, so we wait, together.
I wonder if you’d do us all a favor: Please look yourself in the mirror—but not in your typical goggle tanned Dorian Grey manner, you ski bum Narcissus—and ask yourself: Why do you put your needs above the needs of the rest of us? And, after realizing your selfish, heartless, massive ass hat ways, I implore you to amend your actions by signing the powder day contract our ski community holds sacred.
Otherwise, prepare yourself for boos and heckles and snowballs for the rest of your days. Maybe you don’t care about that; maybe you’re OK with other skiers despising you more than a broken heal piece or a ski-killing core shot. But I’d think twice about tempting the Snow Gods with what is surely a dump trucks-worth of bad karma. Powder day lift line cutting is a turd move. And if you show up to life like a butthole, you’re gonna have a shitty time.
With warm regards,
PaddyO..and every other skier on earth