I did not mention this in my introductory post, but one of the activities that I plan to add to my overall life experiences is the sport of downhill skiing. I had the random idea at some point during the semester that I wanted to become a skier, so with only one time ever skiing under my belt I went on a Craigslist and Ebay shopping spree, buying everything that I would need to start skiing on a regular basis. Most people thought that I had lost my mind since I had only gone skiing once and most of that experience had involved me falling/sliding down the hill on my side. However, I would not let those people’s words deter me, I knew that if I wanted to have more life experiences I would need to take some chances. Here are a few things that I have already learned about skiing:
1) Skiing is a very expensive hobby (I started thinking that it would have been wiser to try reading or editing articles on Wikipedia)
2) You don’t just buy skis. I went into the whole experience thinking that I would pay some money for skis and be fine. That is not the case. The bare necessities of skiing are as follows: skis (make sure they have bindings), ski boots (no, regular snow boots do not work), ski poles (those are not just for show), snow pants (I guess your legs get cold or something when you are skiing for hours in sub-freezing temperatures), a helmet (I was told that everyone wears one and if I want to go through life without a head injury, I should get one too), ski goggles (I was able to buy mine for $25, but I know someone who has $175 goggles, which, in my opinion, had better be gold plated and grant the user x-ray vision if they cost that much), and finally, a colorful ski coat that screams, “See this bright color and crazy pattern?!? This shows that I know what I am doing!”
3) People at ski shops are what I always thought people at surf shops would be like. I have been in four different shops in the last few days and in every single one I have been greeted by a guy with a long ponytail who says something like, “Woah dude, you should seriously consider ditching your skis and buying ones from us” (All of this is said in a slightly stoned sounding/California accent)
So as those three points show, I have quickly learned that I have picked hobby that is not as easy as playing board games, but I do not think that board games would make much of a dinner conversation.
Now to discuss what did not go according to my plan (warning, the following will contain high levels of frustration). I bought all of my ski supplies and was ready to have the bindings adjusted to my large boot size (the guy who sold me the skis must have had doll size feet because the bindings needed a lot of adjusting). A friend of mine told me that he could do it for me since he has skied for years and has worked on all of his own bindings. So I blithely brought them over, with the same optimism that a child going into a candy store has. The first problem arose when he said that the bindings were jammed to the point of being un-moveable; he said that I would need to take them to a ski shop to have them adjusted since he was unable to do it. I thought, “Ok, that is not a big deal, all I have to do is take them to a ski shop and have them adjust them. I’ll be done in around fifteen minutes and only be out about $20.” Yeah, no…
The first shop I took them to told me that my bindings are so old that they cannot be adjusted by the shop because of a liability. I was thinking, “Who cares about liability? Have me sign a paper that waves the right of my family to sue you in the event of my death and just adjust the bindings!” The man then proceeded to walk me over to their ski selection and told me to ditch the skis and buy new ones. I told him that I really did not feel like spending even more money buying new skis when I already had a pair. So after listening to his sales pitch for around ten minutes, I finally told him that I would consider my other options and made my exit from the shop. The next shop I went to told me that they did not even adjust bindings and for me to go down the street to a shop that does binding adjustments (I was in a town that has around five different ski/snowboard shops within a three mile radius of each other). The third shop looked my skis over and began telling me how dangerous the bindings are, and how I would probably die if I ever tried to ski with them. Side note, these guys were so melodramatic I’m sure they would have made great soap opera stars if their ski businesses had not been successful. After telling me, again, how bad my bindings were, he led me to their upstairs show room to try to convince me to buy new skis. As I walked up the stairs I instantly knew what a fly caught in a spider web feels like. I had just been led into a real world version of Shelob’s lair by a salesman with a ponytail. We looked through all of the new skis (which cost more than all of my ski equipment combined), and I tried to tell him multiple times that I would probably pass on buying new skis. No matter what I told him about not spending that much money, he was adamant that even if I got new bindings I would probably die because my skis were not brand new. I told him that I would brave it and that if something bad happened I have good health insurance, and if something really bad happened I have life insurance. I slowly made my way to the door and hurried downstairs and out of the shop before he could try to sell me snowboards or snowshoes.
Once I was in the safety of my car I began ranting to my poor sister about how I was destined to fail at skiing and how I should just give up on the whole endeavor. For the next fifteen minutes she listened to me talk about how I should stop trying to learn new things and how I would never be good at it anyway. It went on for quite some time before she calmly told me that I could just buy bindings online and have a ski shop fit them to my skis. I did not want to listen to her calm wisdom, but after a few minutes of semi-silence peppered with her wedding song playlist (she is getting married this weekend and was testing out reception songs), I finally admitted that she was right. The lesson I learned was that even when things do not go at all as I would have planned, I need to keep pressing on to make it happen. A person does not get ahead in life by quitting whenever things do not work out, and in the same way I know that if I want to become a good skier, I need to press on past roadblocks. So from this point on I am going to take my skis to another shop (I am kind of becoming a boss at navigating through ski shops by now) and have them tell me which bindings to buy online. There may be more hiccups in the process, but without the hiccups I would never really appreciate the final experience. Haha I’m just kidding, I would have been thrilled if all of this had worked out, but at least it gives me a story to add to my repertoire.
Until next time,