Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Trust Among Strangers

It was the last day of the last ski trip I was to take in 2014, and I was skiing solo.  I’d recently been practicing the art of the pick-up, introducing myself to others in hopes that I’d find company on the slopes.  As it turns out, good skiing, like fine dining, is best shared in the company of others. 

It was about noon and I’d already been skiing the slopes of Snowbird alone for a couple of hours.  Not that I preferred that, but it was an uncrowded day on the slopes.  I stood waiting to take the next tram uphill and I let some space open up in front of me.   Two women seized the opportunity to fill that void and I couldn’t let their action go unnoticed. I spoke up; now it was my turn to seize an opportunity.  As we rode the tram skyward I started a conversation that helped secure a positive response when I suggested we ski together.

Carol and Jean are high-energy retirees, both seventy-somethings with lots of spunk.  They've stayed mentally and physically active well beyond the point at which they gave up their careers as flight attendants.  After just a few runs, Carol was ready to call it a day.  Jean, however, suggested she’d stay on for a few more runs.  What followed was a full afternoon skiing some of the most demanding slopes on the mountain.  With Jean in the lead, I left the map in my pocket.

I was enjoying Jean’s company, and I never stopped to consider that this person was a total stranger to me, as I was to her.  We got acquainted through the usual banter of where we live, what we do (or did) for a living and my picking Jean’s brain about how to best prepare for retirement.  As we concluded our last run of the day, Jean mentioned she’d lost her ride home when Carol left and she’d have to catch a bus.  Without considering how inappropriate it might sound, I offered to drive Jean home.  “Do that and you’ll earn a dirty martini as a reward”, Jean said.  Within the hour we were sitting in Carol’s kitchen as Jean mixed up what she claimed would be the best martini I ever had.  It might have been premium ingredients or a world-class recipe that made that martini taste so good, but I like to think it was the company.  I offered to take us all out to dinner but Carol said she’d rather cook and invited me to stay.  I couldn’t believe my good fortune.  Total strangers just hours before and now an invitation to enjoy a home cooked meal with my new friends.

It’s true, skiing and fine dining are best shared with great company. 

Submitted by Dr. Steven Blaine, PhD

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