Thursday, 22rd, September, 2011.
I was stationed at the movenpick return today. A one man job, watching punters come up the chair lift and ski or board down the ramp. The first half of the morning the ramp was almost solid ice and although it needed working on there was no point in trying to chip away at the hard ice, so I leaned against the control cubical and watched as the first customers made their way up on the chair lift. After a quick ” good morning” they arrive on the ramp and stand up and slid down onto the mountain. The ice crunchy and sounds of friction from the boards and skiis.
Almost immediately we had an accident. one of the ski patrol men caught his rucksack on the slats of the chair and half dangling off the chair trying to get off at the ramp the chair swung him round the ball wheel and if I had not stopped it he would have started an uncomfortable decent back down. A few punters fell over on the ramp and ignoring my warning of ” mind your head!” they stood up looking toward the mountain and the chair behind them cracked them soundly on the back of the head.
One sour faced woman who has been snowboarding all season and who never smiles or ever says hello back to me even though I keep trying to talk to her got off and fell over on her first run and getting up suffered the metal chair as it built up some momentum going round the ball wheel. She lay prone for a moment until I ran over to her and asked if she was alright. ”I just need to sit down for a while’’ she said dazed. I helped her out of the way of the other punters and after asking if she needed to see a doctor and her saying no I left her and got back to damage control. The mountain was clear and the land below was so very far away. A line of smoke in the distance from a nearby factory I had dubbed Isengard. I think Saruman is trying to create another urukie army, I had better warn the local ents before it gets out of hand. Every day there is smoke coming from Isenguard.
On my lunch break I skiied down the mountain to the cafe and had a large spicy burger. The snow on the way down was hard with treacherous patches of ice that catch you unawares, trying to turn I would just skid sideways noisily. Its good balance training. ‘’ I call them death cookies’’ an American man told me as I finished a run and wiggled my eye brows animatedly.
In the afternoon when the sun had softened the snow and the ramp was at the stage where I could easily flatten, bulk up and sculpt it I set about with enthusiasm the task of making the ramp the best ramp it could be. A simple task but one which I get great satisfaction out of. To get the ramp packed with soft snow, the ramp cleanly sloping downwards just enough to propel the punters off the chair but not enough to unsettle or alarm the less skilled skiers. To make it even and then when someone comes down it like a greased eel they look back and say ” nice ramp mate” oh the pride.
I went on another run on my lunch break, the snow was soft and the ice was gone, now the fear of falling was gone too and I took some steeper black diamond runs, the almost slushy snow moving lightly as I carved my way down.
Even though its more tiring than working having a ski for lunch, it lifts my spirits and makes me realize why I am here. How many jobs are you able to go for a ski on your lunch break? Not many I say!
In the evening Sarah and Tomo left for Tauranga, the town near Te Puke where we did kiwi packing. Tomo is having an engagement party this weekend and as Sarah has now finished her contract she decided to go up with her. Tomo has been so stressed recently, trying to arrange the party in Tauranga and also getting ready for their wedding next year. A repressed yet obvious aura of tense worry has been murkily festering around her person these days. You can always tell when someone has something on their mind.
I said good bye to Sarah and Tomo early as I was going out to try a new boxing class held in the Ohakune collage gym. I was excited as I haven’t been to a martial arts lesson in what seems like ages. The last time I trained properly was back in Sarah’s home town almost a year ago. I drove to the collage and after searching around the confusing unsigned buildings of the collage I finally peaked through a window and saw some people putting on their wraps, I went in and introduced myself to James, a trim pale man I would guess around his early thirty’s, with an unattractive wispy blond mustache.
There were 5 other people in the class, all RAL staff. ‘‘Come on grab your skipping ropes” James said shortly after we had a brief chat. We started with lots of skipping, something I have got much better at recently at the gym but none the less I was unable to keep up with light footed Boxer James, double rotations, all sorts of fancy foot work. We did push-ups on our fists, explosive stomach crunches which at one point I think I almost gave myself a hurnier with. The exercise was so vigorous and unrelenting that soon I was pouring with sweat; apparently my months at the gym working hard have not paid off completely. It’s different when there is a slave driver involved instead of just self-motivation.
We put on the pads and James put us through a grueling set of punching drills. The class was basic but I could see that this sort of training would get you fit, give you good self-defense skills and it was also fun. Everything it said it was on the poster. I left invigorated and went home to an empty house. I felt very alone and lonely (was that an oxymoron?) and ate something bland then went to bed on my own,alone, by myself, all on my lonesome, singular self. A one without the two. There was no one else around. The air and atoms could move more freely from the lack of humans.