THE MAN OF FEW WORDS, THE NERD AND THE JOKER

People come together on ski lifts. It’s normally not very exciting, but it can sometimes be unusually enjoyable, and at others times a little bit odd. Here’s a little characterization of ski lift passengers.

 

the silent one

A very strange species: people who go skiing alone and really don’t want to do anything other than skiing. You often meet them at the beginning or end of the day, either very early in the morning or around 4 pm. They communicate with a nod, take the sixth seat in the chair lift next to a group of five, and as a rule only look straight ahead during the lift ride. Very probably, there’s no sign of their tense stiffness as soon as they leave the lift – that’s when they often produce the most elegant of slalom turns.


the travel agent

If you’re travelling, you have tales to tell, and naturally you meet other travellers on the lift. Very often, the regular guests know the map of the slopes somewhat better than many of the locals, and that includes tips on the best huts and the best viewpoints. Thankfully, these experts always introduce themselves. They normally only need one key word and they’re ready to share their expert knowledge with everyone else in the lift.


the overcautious one

Care and consideration are particularly important virtues in winter sports. But sometimes they’re a bit too much in evidence on lift rides. When, for example, the bar and the protective screen are pulled down immediately for fear of falling out the lift – but before the others have had a chance to sort out their skis. This hectic rush is easy to recognise, and has only one answer: keep even calmer than normal.


the addict

In the past, it was the smokers who took off their gloves and rummaged in their jacket pockets as soon as they were on the lift. Today it’s much more likely to be people with a very close relationship with their mobile phones. The jury is still out as to whether you’re more relaxed arriving at the top of the mountain after a cigarette or after several minutes of social media.


the EXHIBITIONIST

They really stand out on gondola rides: the lift users who have apparently waited for hours to take off their ski goggles, helmet, hood, gloves and scarf, to open their jackets and ski boots and sometimes let out a liberated “Oh yes!” while doing so. They are often the ones who let their fellow passengers know when the lift’s almost at the mountain station. They have to get completely dressed again, after all.


the hungry one

At times, adults as well as children are just completely overcome with hunger, and blessed are the ones who have something to eat with them when that happens. But sometimes it’s truly astonishing what’s handed around from family member to family member to nibble on as a snack in the gondola car. It can range from bananas to spoonfuls of lasagne to hard cured sausage. You can sometimes still smell the latter hours later.


the joker

This person is usually part of a group which is in general not averse to a bit of fun, but there always has to be one who plays the top clown. You can recognise him when you’re skiing – he’s the one who can never stand still without covering everyone else in snow. On the lift, he’s the one who tells the first dirty joke, starts rocking the chair lift and really does know all the verses of the classic song “Marmor, Stein und Eisen bricht”. He’s funniest, incidentally, when you are sitting two chairs away.


ILLUSTRATIOns: TOM MACKINGER