Monday, December 26, 2011

the government ski (and snowboard, and snowshoe) team

Back when I was a seasonal employee and lived a temporary life, wandering from place to place, we called our four to six months of unemployment "joining the government ski team." I tried to find winter jobs when I could, but it was hard to find employers who would hire someone for only a few months until spring came around again. If we couldn't find work, my friends and I scraped by, renting cheap, drafty apartments, house sitting, and eating a lot of peanut butter. And we skied, or snowshoed, or hiked all winter.

Now that I work all year round in what we used to call "a real job", and have benefits and a retirement plan and am part of the Forest Safety Committee, I am only a weekend member of the government ski team. I don't exercise anymore for two hours a day at the gym because, well, I had the time, or get up, gaze at the weather, and decide what to do that day. Traveling is a lot less spontaneous. But there are benefits too. I can buy an Arcteryx jacket on a whim. I don't have to call in to the unemployment office and look for work. I can retire in five years if I want to.

Some days though, I decide to take a day off in the middle of the week. I go to the woods or the ski area. And I see you there, government seasonal employees. I recognize you because I used to be one of you. Maybe you secretly want a permanent job like I have, but you look pretty happy to me. I want to say, there's still time. You won't regret these perfect days. Stay out there a little longer.

Christmas Eve 2011

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