Diary of a Ski Patrolman: Week 2
Dispatch might not sound thrilling — answering phones, telling people to do things, and reorganizing a whiteboard with people’s names on it doesn’t immediately strike one as exciting — but in fact it was a serious adventure. Maybe it’s just me, but I have trouble listening to three different people talking on the radio, while simultaneously trying to keep track of the two people who’ve just walked into the hut because I have to record the time of return for each — oh, and someone right beside me is talking to me, as well. And the phone is ringing … Whoops, it’s the black one, not the white one!
That didn’t happen all day, but at least once or twice I was nearly overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks to do. Dispatch is just another example of the hidden jobs that enable the visible jobs to operate. Without a dispatcher, there’s no way we could function as a group. I learned a lot of respect for whoever conquers dispatch. It’s challenging, and I’ll even admit rewarding, in its own way.
It’s rapidly approaching. It’s really, really close, in fact. And I’m ready for it. What is it, you ask? My final test, of course!
Next week, my fellow candidates and I are going to be put through the icy trials that every new patroller must pass successfully in order to be online, or, essentially, let off our tethers to roam the mountain on our own.
We’ll finally be able to respond to a real accident and perform our very well ingrained skills on real mountain guests. I know that whatever I respond to first, it’s going to be a serious rush of butterflies and adrenaline. I know butterflies and adrenaline might not seem like a good pairing, but I think in this case it will be.
My butterflies will keep my mind going and on task, and my adrenaline will keep my body performing what it must do to help whomever I come across. Working with my fellow candidates and other patrollers over the past few weeks has been a blast, and soon it will be even better. Finally seeing the look on a guest’s face as I ski down to check on him or her, and perhaps rescue that person from an otherwise very uncomfortable situation, will be worth all of those textbook pages, late nights spent studying trail names, and nearly frozen extremities.
Speaking of which … Christmas is rapidly approaching, and I actually want something this year: warm socks. Really, really warm socks. How excited will I be if I get warm socks? Well … almost as excited as I’ll be to pass my final mock test next week and be on the mountain with a heightened sense of purpose. I’ll be looking back from the chairlift and seeing that beautiful Okemo summit view, knowing that it’s my responsibility to care for everyone who’s also enjoying this mountain, these views.
That’ll be even better than warm socks.