So the other day I’m in a lift line at XYZ resort, and this goof ball young guy (a boarder, but that’s beside the point) is ahead of me, not wearing a mask. To me, this is worrisome. He had some sort of thin gaiter pushed down below his chin, and he’s chatting away to another friend, also with a lowered mask.
To be honest, I’ve reached my limit on these things. I’m old and cranky, and in the words of the anchorman in the movie “Network,” I’m not going to take it anymore. So yeah, I said something.
“Excuse me,” I said, from a distance of about 10 feet, “Would you please put on your mask?” Nothing. So I said it again. And yes, even a third time. At last he pulls it up so it’s just covering his mouth. For me, this isn’t enough. So I try again. “Excuse me. Could you please cover your nose?” Nothing. He totally ignores me. I’ve become invisible. It’s a couple days before the holiday weekend, and it’s busy. The line behind me is beginning to build.
I continue to stand 10 feet away. The people behind are not pleased. But hey, I am not going to inhale this guy’s air just to make them happy. We proceed through the lift line like this for a few minutes, with me ten feet back. Finally, someone else, who must also be old and cranky, loses patience and says to the liftie monitoring the line, “This young man refuses to put up his mask.” The liftie blinks above his own mask, but says and does nothing, I can’t blame him. Altercations are hard and unpleasant, and I’m sure he doesn’t want to get involved. Finally, the guy pulls up his mask, makes an obscene gesture to me, and gets on the chair.
I mean, really?
Give. Me. A. Break.
Sure, I understand that people forget to pull their masks up in a lift line. And sure, I know that for some people, masks have become a political statement. And sure, I even see that at 18 or 20 or whatever, you probably think you’re invulnerable and will never get sick. But this has been going on for a long time now. There are rules in place at every ski area to keep both guests and employees safe. At this point, not wearing a mask shouldn’t even be up for contention. It’s selfish, rude, and just plain disrespectful.
Failure to wear masks can have repercussions.
Resorts are doing what they can. Most have signs posted to remind people to cover their nose and mouth. And some have employees on hand to say something, if your mask is down . Most skiers are willing to comply and do the right thing. Yet still, employees are getting shouted at, ignored, or generally abused. It’s not fair to them and it’s unpleasant for everyone to see.
At Schweitzer, the General Manager recently announced the cancellation of Twilight Skiing over the holiday weekend, because of the abuse his employees were getting over mask compliance. And Whitefish Mountain Resort put out this great video about mask compliance.
Mount Hood Meadows is fed up, too. They’ve been pulling passes because of non-compliance. Here’s their video, to remind people to comply:
Keeping the ski season going is up to all of us.
We’re a few weeks out of Christmas and COVID is soaring. In last week’s post I noted that there’d been been more than 22 million confirmed cases in the US and over 372,000 deaths. As I write this a week later on January 17, the number has gone up to 23.6 million and 393,000 deaths. So yes, this is something we have to take very, very seriously.
You know how you always think of good things to say once the moment is passed? Well, here’s what I would’ve said to the guy on the lift line, if I had my wits about me and hadn’t been so damn irritated:
Listen, bro [did I actually use the word bro?]. Skiing during a pandemic is a privilege. It’s amazing this place is even open right now. If you don’t wear a mask, you could ruin it for everyone. This could turn into a COVID hot spot, and nobody wants that. Here in Vermont, we take COVID pretty seriously; the state could easily shut us down. If you think going without a mask means you’re a free-spirited rebel who thinks for himself, you’re wrong. What you’re really doing is signaling that you’re an entitled, self-centered man-baby who doesn’t care if he’s jeopardizing the health of the resort’s employees or the people around him. So listen, guy, let’s not blow it. Pull up your mask. Oh, and by the way, that obscene gesture? That just shows everyone your complete lack of decency and class. Your mother would be appalled.
There. I’ve gotten that off my chest.
I’m sure all of you here are doing the right thing. If you are, thanks. You’re helping keep the season going. And if you’re not, watch out. You don’t want to run into me in the lift line.
Last Sunday at Crotched Mt. the ski patrol was walking between the lift line at Rocket telling the non compliant to mask up. There was also an off duty police officer at the lift telling people to mask up. I thought this was awesome that Crotched was actively addressing the mask issue and hope they keep up the good work!
As I’m sure you know, Schweitzer Mountain also cancelled night skiing over the MLK holiday weekend due to poor mask wearing and employee harassment during night skiing on previous weekends. I’ve been avoiding skiing on weekends pretty much entirely this season just to avoid the lift lines. I appreciate all Schweitzer is doing to reduce risk, especially since they’re getting a lot of pushback from the anti-science contingent that’s so vocal in north Idaho.