Wolf making a shameless pitch for a commutation of his sentence.
It is now a sad reality in my life that I have a “file” over at June Mountain.
My confession begins with my first offense dating back to last spring when I had some friends visiting from Michigan and Florida. Like any decent Mammoth host with guests from out of state, I assumed it would be an appropriate gesture to drive them up scenic U.S. 395 for a leisurely day at June.
Everything was going well until we went in for lunch and I made the mistake of buying one of my friends a slice of pizza using my Mammoth Mountain Ski Area (MMSA) employee discount. Little did I know, there was a full-blown culinary stakeout in progress. “Did you pay for that slice of pizza?” asked a June employee oddly appearing from behind a wooden post. “Yes,” I said. “And did your friend just take a bite out of it?!” We locked eyes for a moment. “Yes.” But it was too late. As soon as I admitted to what would later be called “PizzaGate,” I simultaneously realized that I was about to be posterized.
This was a lapse of judgment on my behalf. You see, as soon as my friend took a bite of that forbidden slice, the June employee scouting from the other side of the room knew he was dealing with some illegal pizza. That kind of pizza cannot be tolerated. Consequently, I got rolled on as if I’d been busted selling crack.
After being chewed out for 15 minutes on why you can’t use your discounts for anyone but yourself, I apologized and said that I wouldn’t do it again. I figured, hey, no problem. I honestly didn’t think it was a big deal. That is, until I found out that said employee e-mailed my boss at Mammoth, complete with a cc to MMSA Vice President Jack Copeland, detailing my sordid life as a discount pizza abuser.
Now, you might be thinking that act would chap my ass. No, not at all. What chapped it really good, however, was the fact that I saw that same June employee just a couple weeks ago buying a bunch of his friends lunch with his employee pass. “Wow, blankity-blank, sure is nice for buying all of us this nice spread.” Those painful words were actually used. You can imagine my Macaulay Culkin face as I stood in the checkout line witnessing this injustice.
Okay, so that’s that. Wait, no. Come on! Who has honestly never abused this ambiguous policy? Can you look yourself in the mirror and say you’ve never used your pass to, let’s say, buy a round of beers for your buddies at Tusks? Or never shared a Super Burrito (which, by the way, if you’ve ever actually finished one, you deserve a reality show)? Or I guess you’ve never innocently pinched a french fry off your pal’s plate? Erroneous! If you truly are innocent of any of these examples, then my hat’s off to you because you deserve a year’s worth of Black Diamond awards … and a seat at the World Poker Tour Championships.
Okay, onto the next confession…
A week ago, one of my friends got his pass pulled at June Mountain during President’s weekend. “It was so dumb,” he said with a half smile. “I got caught ducking a rope.” Feeling slightly embarrassed, since my story is actually pretty lame in comparison, I sheepishly confessed that I too got my pass pulled on that same day. “Oh, man that’s harsh. I got mine pulled for arguing with a lifty.” Note: I can tell you with the utmost sincerity, you can NEVER win an argument with a lifty.
That Saturday morning, every ski hill across the country was slammed, and June Mountain was no exception. To say that there was a decent-sized line for the J1 chairlift is like saying former NBA star Shawn Kemp has a handful of illegitimate kids. The line looked like the Persian army in the movie “300.” It coiled down the stairs, through the parking lot and literally spewed out into the road.
So, like every other genius trying to avoid holiday Mammoth crowds, there I was, waiting in the biggest lift line I‘ve ever stood in. After about 45 minutes of being unfazed by boredom, I eventually made it to the actual rope queue. A lifty comes up and scans my pass, along with the passes of my athletes (I was punched in and working for Mammoth that day). I could hear his iPod playing through his jacket as he sang out loud. I honestly couldn’t tell you if it was some Eminem or ICP, but whatever it was, it was straight-up weird.
As he weaved through the crowd scanning tickets, he rapped to the guests (I’ll let you fill in the blanks), “I rape you in the blank, mother blankin’ blank.” It goes on like that for awhile. However, I didn’t let that get to me … or the guy smoking a cigarette in line just a few people ahead. Instead, I immediately went from athletic coach to life coach as I explained to my athletes that unfortunately, people that enjoy that kind of music and act like that in public, will eventually take over the planet a la “Idiocracy.” We’re all screwed.
After getting to the top and having a lengthy debate on strategic-crowd skiing, we decided to take a lap back down the face. On the surface this would seem like a bad idea considering the lengthy lift line, but I had an awesome plan. You see, back down at the bottom, the lifties opted out of setting up a single’s line. This decision made no sense to me, given that half empty and fully blown vacant chairs were being neglected (again, as the biggest line ever created by man or beast lurked in the parking lot).
When we got to the bottom, I told my athletes to yell out for any singles, fill up the chairs and then eventually we would all meet up at the top. We executed this plan for a couple runs and the lifties didn’t seem to care. After all, they were letting their friends jump in line, too.
For a scenario lacking a single’s line, it was a pretty balanced system. But maybe that’s where I went wrong.
After a few spins, I hear, “Hey! You have to go to the end of the line!” I turn around only to spot a lifty I hadn’t noticed all morning. I said to him, “Oh, we’ve already waited in the line, we’re just filling in the empty seats.” He snapped back, with zero patience, “You have to go to the end of line. Don’t give me any sh*t about it.” Shocked, I replied, “I‘m not, I’m just saying if you‘re not going to have a singles line then you should at least have someone making sure the chairs get filled.” Now, visibly more annoyed, he barks, “Listen, if you don’t like the way we do things here at June, then go back to Mammoth.” Obviously not wanting to go back to Mammoth, I decided it was best to walk to the end of the gargantuan line.
After 30 minutes we eventually make it back to the rope queue. I glanced up at the chairlift and, sure enough, a half-empty chair was going up, followed by a completely empty chair. It was getting ridiculous, and I wasn’t the only one who noticed. We watched as another friend of the lifty cuts in line. Murmurs begin to spread. Over the span of the morning the line had morphed from a queue of happily anxious paying customers to a line of embittered paying protesters. I figured I needed to say something, employee to employee.
Now if I had the ability to travel back in time and stop myself from opening my big, fat, stupid mouth, I totally would have. Because this is what came out of my big, fat, stupid mouth: “Hey man, I thought you were going to have someone filling these chairs. People are getting pissed.” Standing 20 feet away from the lift line and clowning around with a buddy, he looks over at me. They both walk over.
“Don’t tell me how to do my job,” he shot back. I look around, “Wait. What job? You’re not doing anything, and there’s a huge line out to the road. Come on, it’s President’s weekend! I’m just asking that the chairs get filled.” Now he’s pissed. “Okay, let me see your pass.”
It’s funny, as soon as he said those words, something deep inside told me not to take it out. I really needed a moment to think. This would have been an awesome time to be in one of those Twix commercials. “Eh, why do you want to see my pass?” I asked. “I wanna know if you have one.” My deep down voice reemerges, “He knows you have one. Don’t take it out!”
And just like that, for some dumb reason I listened to his Jedi-lifty jargon and pulled out my pass. Right away he snatched it out of my hand. “Go on without me!” I shout to my athletes, “Find the other coaches!” They look back at me with steely eyes, one of them stoically gives the ceremonial fist bump to the chest. They’re damned good kids.
The lifty then tells me to step out of line. He takes my pass into the little booth at the bottom and hops on the phone. After a long wait he comes back. “Are we done here? I have to get back to work,” I ask. “Well you’re done for the day.” I’m confused. “Hah. Come on, seriously, I need my pass back.”
This is precisely the moment when I came to the full realization I wasn’t getting my pass back. “Listen, we can argue about this all day. But what’s worse, me complaining about you not doing your job, or you not doing your job?”
Yeah, that didn’t help. It was over. My pass was gone.
I spent the rest of the day sitting in the parking lot waiting for a ride home. I thought, maybe I just caught this guy on a bad day? Or maybe he’s just an asshole? He must be good at his job, or maybe he is at least some of the time? He did say to me when we were arguing that he’s been doing this for 18 years. I suppose I shouldn’t have said, “You’ve been a lifty for 18 years?”
That was almost two weeks ago. I’m still not allowed back.
So I now have two strikes on file and let me tell you that being blacklisted really sucks. It’s strange, being a typical Mammoth local I always figured I would be banned from something that made more sense … a bar or lounge, for instance.
Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be exiled from a place I love and cherish. It’s just a bummer that I got banned because of a blemish on my record that can only be written up as “illegal pizza consumption” and a complaint about blatantly bad line management.
Next time I’ll keep my big, fat, stupid mouth shut … and with my own pizza in it.