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Worldwide Ace » Taking It With You

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Taking It With You

18 January, 2011 (12:32) | Work


“No Fare, No Well” by Tomer Hanuka.

“I don’t know why you did that.”

“I don’t know why I did it either,” I lied. Later, he would call me a “brown nose.” He wouldn’t be too far off in a fashion.

It’s just a job, I hear people say. But life doesn’t end when I walk into work; it doesn’t start when that big hand hits beer o’clock. Maybe the world would be better if it did.

Most of the time, my job doesn’t extend further than the kids center or maybe the parking lot. After all, it’s hard to be a ski instructor on dry, flat ground. I catch a little bit of extra duty doing some early morning set up and late day take down of the Sunkid, our bunny slope, but as soon as I’m ensconced in a vehicle and begin the slow descent down, I’m free and clear.

Or so it would have been…

Instead, being the headstrong jackass that I am, I volunteered to help plan an event for the entirety of our department.

For the past several years, a tradition has been established called Rookie Party. All the new hires (aka rookies) throw in some cash and throw a party for the entire department. Food, the first couple drinks, and music are provided. The shindig goes off in the late winter, when the ski season is between its two biggest weeks: Christmas and Spring Break.

With over a hundred new hires every year thanks to the high turnover, that means if every one throws in ten dollars, we’d have a thousand dollars to book a venue, purchase drinks and food, and hire a band.

Unfortunately, life isn’t that simple. Some new hires don’t participate because they don’t feel they can afford to. Others because they aren’t planning to attend. Still others don’t last long enough to donate or attend the party, though even those who have moved on are welcome of course.

This means that Rookie Party was more work than I ever expected.

“Just get some save the date posters up and worry about the details later,” Jon-O told me.

“Alright,” I acceded skeptically. I wasn’t sure if I could set a date without a venue, and with the trouble I was having finding a venue that was reasonably priced, I wasn’t sure if I could find a venue at all.

“I’ll ask at Avery, but you should keep at it elsewhere.”

“Of course,” I agreed.

I had my heart set on the Oddfellows lodge downtown, but I had found it impossible to get in touch with them. I had spoken with Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, Bacaro, the Lazy Dog, the Sink, Hapa and a number of other places and not one was in our price range. Wahoo’s offered us food for 100 people and the location for $800, a simply unfeasible amount.

“The problem I’m seeing now, though, is that no one’s giving money. We have a little over $300 collected. How am I supposed to finance a party like this on that?”

Jon-O smiled. “You’ll figure it out.”

I thought it would get me in good with the higher ups. At the very least, it would put my name and face on their radar. When you enter a department of over 200 people and the work is handed out based on a faceless list of names, anything I can do to climb that ladder seems a good thing.

What I didn’t expect was an ordeal; a trial by fire; and a lot of luck and help from my friends and fellow rookies.

I was the second planner on the list. Tzvi, a snowboarder, had already volunteered and was my chief partner in crime. We got together at my place and brain stormed locations, caterers and ideas of liquor. We laid out an expected budget and tried to plan around it.

We added a third member to our team, perhaps the most invaluable portion in retrospect, a week later in Katie. Katie runs her own catering and personal chef business and essentially took over food duties at cost, saving us a half our food budget and guaranteeing a good meal. The downside was that we now had to limit our venue choices to places that didn’t mind us providing our own food. Most restaurants were suddenly right out.

“Listen, dude, you’re on your own,” he remorsefully whined through the phone.

“Got it. I hope your back feels better.”

“Me too,” Tzvi replied.

It took me a moment to process that with less than $400 in financing, Rookie Party was now firmly on my shoulders. Tzvi’s back injury was bad enough that he wasn’t going to be working for the next few days. In addition, the two weeks of leg work we had done was pretty much all we could do as a team.

The biggest problem with Rookie Party is gaining financing. Eldora won’t help out because of small budgets and the fact that it’s a department party, rather than an all-mountain party. The vets don’t want to pay because that’s not how it works. The rookies don’t want to pay because they aren’t getting most of the benefits, and with how high a turnover we have, who knows if they’ll be back to reap them next year.

I heard through the grapevine that one of the supervisors had paid $50 out of pocket the previous year to cover that last little bit.

Of course, I’m anything if not resourceful. Quickly, I mocked up some raffle tickets and spent a day walking from one end of Boulder to the other, dropping off letters at businesses asking for donations of gift certificates, T-Shirts, and any other prizes that could be cobbled together. To be honest, I was amazed at the outpouring of support. Only two businesses treated me poorly when I came knocking, neither of which I will ever frequent again: Foolish Craig’s and a new fangled sushi restaurant just down the street.

With money out of pocket, I printed up 500 tickets to be sold at $2 a piece. I didn’t expect to sell them all, but if I could even sell 200, I would double our money. Thanks to Jess’s efforts, we sold more than half and suddenly were in business.

“You look tired,” Jess told me.

“I am tired. Is everyone having a good time?”

“Yeah, it’s a great party!”

“Good.”

“I’m gonna go grab another beer, you want one?”

“No, I’m good. Thanks though.”

I turned my eyes back to the box of prizes in the back room of the Twisted Pine Brewery. Already, I had spent the first half of the evening working the front door, freezing my ass off on a stool outside, collecting money from rookies trying to sneak past without paying and carding all the underagers. For non-employees, the same door charge applied, including significant others and dates.

It’s sad when you create something amazing and you can’t enjoy it, but I still had work to do. The raffle continued unabated, and though I’d had a beer, I wanted to make sure everything went smoothly.

Amazingly, it did.

I can’t say enough how much I appreciated Katie’s work on the food, Tyler’s band playing, the hospitality of the Twisted Pine Brewery, and the donations of all the local businesses. When the biggest complaint is that there wasn’t quite enough room for everyone and we’re all packed in like sardines, I think it’s going pretty well.

In a few weeks, this year’s Rookie Party will be coming to fruition. James, a new hire snowboard instructor, is planning it, and though I’ve offered to help how I can, I’m trying my best to distance myself. Last year’s Rookie Party was a raging success, but it was also a major source of stress. I can see the same thing happening to James and I do not envy him.

He hasn’t announced a location yet. I keep hearing rumors of ideas, but without posters and absolutes, I know better than to take anything for granted. I lucked into having the Twisted Pine Brewery host thanks to another instructor named Matt who was a regular there, and he worked out most of the kinks. I hadn’t even seen the venue when I arrived, and I nearly plotzed from the stress.

At the end of the day, I want to be able to have a life away from work. I function in a very specific mode when asked to, and getting away and out of that mode is important. Without it, how is one expected to relax?

James is going to do fine. He’ll get this party going and I will help if I can, but I guarantee that he, like me, will be much happier once it’s all done with.

He’ll reap the rewards eventually, but he’s paying for it now.

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