#8: ONE WAY TO SELL HAMBURGERS
Written by Lyndon Froese // Artwork by Seth Heinrichs
The bus carrying students from the University of Manitoba’s International Students Association pulled into the parking lot, right on time. This group of barely-adults from far off places had arrived for their big ski day.
There were forty in the group, which was enough to warrant extra staff and some prep work to get ski equipment ready in the rental shop before the day began. It’s a pretty large group for a facility like Falcon Ridge, but the team and supplies were ready.
After the fortieth student got off the bus, another one got off. And then another one after that. And another one, until there were one hundred students lining up to receive their skis.
Soon, the chalet was a zoo. On a sunny weekend like this, even the regular crowd can be quite enough for staff to keep up with.
The international students, many having their first experience with snow, were soon happily face-planted into the bunny hill. Kind-hearted regulars and off-duty staff pitched in to help skiers to their feet. These helpful friends were, without exception, dressed in neon laser onesies and splattered Spandex. This is because it wasn’t only One Hundred International Students Day, it was annual 80s Dress Up Day too.
Meanwhile in the chalet, a band called Ultra Mega were hauling in their gear, getting ready to play some music that only a band called Ultra Mega could play.
When it came time for the Muslim students’ call to prayer, they huddled into the only space they could find. They bowed between rows of boot shelves in the rental shop and worshipped to the very loud sounds of Ultra Mega.
80s Day, One Hundred International Students Day, Ultra Mega Takes The Slopes Day... Usually life out at Falcon Lake moves pretty slow so it being Satur-Day might have been enough on its own.
But all of this wasn’t enough for Gerry Ski Patrol.
The rental staff were scrambling to make sense of foreign boot sizes, dealing with language barrier troubles and fixing the mistakes that come with juggling too many balls. The maintenance staff had just radioed in and asked what was up with these students they found on the cross-country trails in lead-heavy downhill gear.
It must have been the most chaotic the chalet had ever been when someone entered the room dressed in a giant yellow toque-shaped mascot costume. It was Gerry Ski Patrol, dressed as “Tony the Toque.” Don’t ask me who Tony the Toque is, but Tony the Toque had arrived and he was handing out free cake. After all, (how could we forget?) the anniversary of Ski Patrol in Manitoba was upon us and it was time to sing Happy Birthday.
Now everyone finally had an answer to the question what do you give a day that already has everything? The answer is cake. And how do you serve it? Dressed as a gigantic yellow toque.
- - -
The following year, the same international students group returned. Thankfully, despite how crazy things had been the year before, they had had a good time and were returning for more. Double-thankfully, things went more smoothly the second time around. At the end of the day, staff exhaled as they watched the happy students board the bus.
Through the large windows at the back of the chalet, the Falcon Ridge team watched as the bus climbed the hill that exits the parking lot. They watched as the bus’s tires began to skid on the slippery surface. In front of their eyes, thehighway coach slid backwards and wedged itself diagonally across the road.
The bus was stuck and it blocked the only exit out of the ski hill.
About two hundred people remained at the slopes. From the chalet, everyone watched intently to see what would happen next. The sun began to set behind the trees.
After a long time with no updates, a tow truck came – the kind of tow truck they use to pull buses out of the ditch. It got stuck too.
People checked their watches. The kitchen kept the grill on.
Everyone waited. Patiently.
Any news? No news.
Then, an unusual looking piece of heavy equipment came into view. Some action – finally – but what was it? Craig Christie had arrived with one of his favourite pieces of machinery. The decal on its side read Tree Farmer. No one knew what it was for or why he had it, but Craig loved that Tree Farmer. There was a clanking of chains, a billow of smoke, and Craig and the Tree Farmer pulled the bus up the hill.
The chalet erupted in applause.