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Escaping the Tyranny of Whistler

I know Pique comes out on Friday and for that I am grateful. It entertains me, it helps me plan my weekend and it reminds me of what I was thinking about earlier in the week when I wrote this. A memory is a terrible thing to waste.

I know Pique comes out on Friday and for that I am grateful. It entertains me, it helps me plan my weekend and it reminds me of what I was thinking about earlier in the week when I wrote this. A memory is a terrible thing to waste.

Notwithstanding all the reasons to enjoy Friday, I have only one thing to say: Thank God for Monday. Like most of us living here, my Monday has nothing to do with the day after Sunday. My Monday is most often Thursday or Friday. It is the day following my days off and I am always glad to see it come around.

Several years ago, when I turned in my rat suit and left the race, I became part of a cult I knew nothing about: the Thank God for Monday cult. It mainly consists of retired people who are overwhelmingly happy, yes, even giddy, when Monday rolls around and the unruly masses of wage slaves return to their structured, week-long routine.

My first glimpse of this subculture came when I spent the better part of 1993 living in Mello Yello, a VW camper, in various US National Forests and Parks. Weekends were hell. What were, from Monday to Friday, relatively secluded, idyllic, backcountry retreats became, on weekends, loud, ill-mannered, armed camps. Fresh air, solitude and oneness with nature was replaced by a pall of wood smoke, rendering the air not dissimilar to what one might find in Mexico City, and smouldering testosterone. Solitude was punctuated by piercing and inappropriately timed rebel yells, blood-curdling vowel movements shattering the night.

The domain of the retired and genteel became the playground for stressed out, overly aggressive, "back to nature" American males. They came in Jeeps with comically oversized tires and, to a man, dressed in camouflage clothing, "camo" being to Americans what plaid is to Canadians. They drank copious amounts of Black Jack Daniels, played music in the woods and could only keep a campfire going with generous dollops of gasoline. Most were armed, although this posed a greater threat to themselves and their companions than those around them. Weekends became a time to find refuge, hunker down and wait it out. Thank God for Monday.

Sounds kind of like Whistler, doesn’t it? Okay, add a half dozen drunken arrests, numerous public tantrums thrown by children of all ages and some nitwit lost in the backcountry. Take away the guns. Now it sounds like a Whistler Weekend.

Fortunately, most of us are working on weekends in our open-all-day-every-day paradise and take out days off during the week. This probably goes a long way to explaining the relatively few beatings our guests suffer at the hands of locals. Since I’ve lived here, I’ve only actually met two people whose weekends are Saturday and Sunday. My concern for their welfare falls short of pity, but I do feel their pain.

The point of this story, however, is not about the kind of Thank God it’s Monday residents feel here when the real Monday rolls around, the relief at being able to ski out favourite runs without running human gates or to once again use the Valley Trail for commuting, without traffic jams. That is another ongoing story. This story is about going back to work whenever your Monday is and escaping the Tyranny of Whistler.

So as not to further confuse you, I am not referring to the following tyrannies of Whistler: expensive and hard to find housing; nightmare tenants/landlords; laughably low paying jobs, at which you work at least two; overpriced everything but particularly unconscionable, gouging gas stations; the need to be unfailingly nice to people sorely deserving the rudest comeback you lay awake nights thinking of; and, last but not least, weather.

Those are, in the overall scheme of thins, small "t" tyrannies. The Tyranny of Whistler is what we do, or more accurately, what we feel compelled to do, on our days off. Days off in the Monday to Friday world are generally divided between maintenance – groceries, dry cleaning, yard work – and relaxation, quality time, or, in the absence of quality time, golf.

Maintenance items for most of us do not occupy much of our time. Groceries are a hit and run affair, PowerBars, muffins and lattes accounting for about 85 per cent of the standard Whistler diet. Since fleece replaced wool, no one knows what I’m talking about when I mention dry cleaning, and we all rent places whose landscaping consists of second growth forest. If we really need to shop, we make a trip down Highway 99 and get a lot done at once. So our days off are pretty much devoted to "relaxation" as that term has been perverted in these parts.

Relaxation in Whistler is roughly equivalent to marathon training in the rest of the world. We spend days off skiing and boarding, traversing the backcountry in search of the Goddess Powder, playing hockey, basketball, baseball and volleyball, biking, climbing, kayaking, hiking, blading, often all in one day.

People returning to work from days off around here are the walking wounded. Sprained joints, lost skin, dislocated bits, contusions, abrasions and general mayhem plague out personal Mondays. The idea of hanging out, lying in the sun, reading a book or in some manner spending days off in the leisure pursuits is socially unacceptable. Like watching junk TV, if we do it at all, we lie about it to others; actually admitting to sloth would require enrolment in a 12-step program or relocation, to maybe Squamish. This Tyranny is a natural outgrowth of life in a recreational Mecca and it’s totally out of control.

If you don’t believe me, ask your physio. You have one, don’t you? Of course you do, we all do. Physiotherapists are to Whistler what psychiatrists are to cities. They keep us healthy and functioning. They ultrasound and electrocute us, manipulate battered joints and overextended muscles, teach us gentle exercises to revitalize popped knees, battered shoulders and floppy wrists. When you ask them how business is, they just smile. They look forward to our days off even more than we do.

There are only two cures for the Tyranny of Whistler. You can move to somewhere else, or you can get a few more jobs and have no days off. If you choose to stay and suffer days off, find a good physio. You’ll be exhausted and probably injured when your Monday rolls around.

But, as my Perfect Partner likes to point out, you can always rest when you go back to work.




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