I arrived in town, English girlfriend in tow, Labour Day of '92. Ended up camping down at Alice Lake.
Tuesday morning, bright and early, turned up at the employment office in Creekside, where I received my first and best piece of advice on life in Whistler. "Forget the job, find a place to stay," Bernie Lalor-Morton and Janet McDonald chorused in unison. So I did.
Ended up in a studio in the Vale Inn, with a seriously depleted bank account after first, last and a full month's damage deposit. Ahhh, Whistler slumlords. What would this town be without them?
Needed a job quick. Got a dream one, working for Sabre deconstructing the old Myrtle Philip school. Sledgehammer to the blackboards, very cathartic.
Finally the mountains opened, and although I could only afford a 15-day pass and needed to work six days a week just to make ends meet, I was determined to make the most of the opportunity.
By Christmas, I'd been up three times and discovered two things. The first was that I had a genetic predisposition for skiing. That sense of speed and freedom, the irresistible, inescapable pull of gravity were addictive. Every morning I'd look up at the mountains and be jonesing for a fix.
The second thing I discovered was that I didn't have a clue what I was doing.
In a bid to ensure my survival, my girlfriend gave me a lesson voucher for Christmas.
The Whistler Mountain instructor didn't laugh as I turned up, a classic GORB'Y, just asked me what I wanted to accomplish from the lesson. "I want to learn."
And learn I did. The instructor was patient, passionate, and funny as hell. At the end of the day, I walked away feeling that I knew a thing or two, and thinking that this guy had one of the cooler jobs on the planet, and not only knew it, but cherished it.
I started work as an instructor over on the "dark side" in '94. Whenever I ran into him, he would grin and wag a finger, as if to chastize me for being so easily led astray. I'd laugh, and tell him it was all his fault. To be fair, there's a long list of names to spread the blame around, Tony, Lincoln, Lee Anne, Hal, Ken, Wade... but to the first must go the credit.
Of course, as is usual in life, you never thank the ones you should before it's too late.
So, for what it's worth now, Thank You, Murray Dee, for first setting my boots on a path that still has my mother asking if I'm ever going to get a "real" job.
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