Down with faffing

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Why is skiing so irritating? It’s not wobbly legs, bad weather and glutinous plates of burgers and poutine. It’s the frustration caused by farting around.

by Leslie Woit from Buyer’s Guide 2013 issue

Yes, you with your tangled iPod cords, snotty noses, infernally fogged goggles and hapless search for the missing cleaning wipe…. I’m fed up with fellow skiers who faff around. This art—some of you have turned it into a maestro-sized talent—kills the joy of a clear-blue-sky afternoon or a lightest-powder morning.

I’m not inured to sin, of course. I, too, have taken the 9:00 a.m. speed-walk of shame back to the room to retrieve my $%^ing lift pass. But the kings and queens of faff seem to be forever dithering, distracted from the task at hand—skiing—while fumbling about with bits of crap in their knapsacks while the powder piles up or the base area lift line fills up or the best parking
spots are taken or…

You all know who you are. If you don’t, you’ll recognize the offenders in your midst. The ones who ride the gondola for 20 minutes, then scramble for the SPF 50 just as the doors begin to part. Those who are continually present without the necessary accoutrement: lip balm, money, sunglasses, brain. And my personal peccadillo, the loser who, just when everyone is layered up and ready to leave the lunch table—coats, mitts, helmets on, core body temperatures already surpassing World Health Organization limits for transporting cattle—will declare,
“Ooh, hang on a sec. Gotta just whip to the hopper.”

The only thing worse than one faffer? A whole gaggle of them. Someone needs to take charge of (and dictate) where everyone’s going, how and when. Endless group discussions and histrionic outdoor map-reading (“It’s the wrong way round, Mike!”) will make a ski day drag slower than Sidney Crosby’s baseline EEG. Arrange meeting places and stick to them. And enough with the hideous expense of endless cell phone calls to roust the ditherers from their Murphy beds, summon them from one side of the cafeteria to the other, or discover them vacillating over an acrylic neck warmer at the mid-mountain ski shop for $9.99. Navy or black? They’re missing out—and now you are, too!

Embrace your Inner Teuton: get organized. Do a systems check before you leave the room. Put the sunblock on as soon as you sit down in the gondola. In fact, do it after you brush your teeth in the condo: SPFs need an hour to take effect. Be on time, in the right lift line, the right resort, the right country (yes, that’s happened, too). Punctuality, especially in January, can make the difference between a happy family and missing digits. You wouldn’t leave someone standing in the middle of a Nunavut snowfield in a driving storm, so why do it on a glacier’s edge? And for Pete’s sake, empty your bladder while the coffee is being made.

As in all aspects of mountain travel, it takes only one to create the most fatal of all events—the faffalanche. One person’s faffing risks engendering a whole series of faffs from others, resulting in 401-calibre delays and Sea to Sky Highway-proportion pileups. The worst part is, all subsequent dawdling would likely never have occurred were it not for the first. For example:

“Our guide is here!”

“Oh, hang on, I need my extra wick layer.”

“Think so? I’m running up to the room to grab my scarf.”

“If we’ve got a guide, I’ll have to swap the carvers for the fatties.”

“Fab, time for another cappo.”

The only way out? Act like a professional. Think like a skier. The right mental attitude and a little organization will make everything run more smoothly.

Admit it. The wearing, carrying, schlepping—for the inexperienced or the unmotivated, ski life can be hell. Yet, woo-hoo! The actual skiing, the going downhill bit—it’s a whole lot of fun. Don’t spoil it for yourself and everyone else. Next time, leave the faffing and the faffers behind. On a powder day, or if you just want to be first to carve the corduroy, no maybes about it. ❄

Leslie Woit
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