Guest commentary: Extra work and that big football game adding to a super experience
A South African in Aspen
Will here again, your friendly South African in Aspen.
As the Saffa’s time in Aspen seems to be flying by, it has become very clear that there are three main pillars that constitute our lives here: working, skiing and partying/playing/fun (whatever you want to call it). Although this sounds extremely basic, it does pretty much sum up what we get up to; if we aren’t at work then we are probably on the slopes and if we aren’t on the slopes then you will most likely catch us at Pie Shop, or another local favourite, having a beer and a slice. With this being said, the work pillar is the one that consumes most of our time and so I thought it fitting to dedicate a column to exploring this further.
As I mentioned in previous weeks, you will be able to find a South African working at almost any place in town and for the most part of our first month and a half here we were committed to just one job. We soon realized that with the excessive rental prices in Aspen, the high cost of living, and our desire to travel the U.S. after the season, this wasn’t going to cut it. The hunt was on and with relative ease, most of us found a second job. At the time this seemed great but we came to realize that it left us with little free time to tear up the ramps at Buttermilk or visit Panda at Pie. This was the beginning of trying to find the right balance.
I constantly debated in my own head as to whether I was working too much and not making the most of the unbelievable opportunity here in Aspen but the added workload actually opened my eyes.
Picking up jobs and working extra hours really isn’t the enemy in Aspen. We came here on a cultural exchange program and as much as we want to ski, party and relax, the interactions that we have had at work and what we have learned is incredibly valuable. I feel as if it’s all about the people. The friends we have made are ones who will remain for life and by spending time in different restaurants we have been able to integrate with a completely multicultural group of staff. I didn’t know much about Eastern European or South American culture but after the three months of working with many people from these areas I feel as if I understand and appreciate the differences in our lifestyles and cultures. Picking up Spanish is now definitely on my agenda for 2022. Come to think of it, we have also gained knowledge about the USA, and if you haven’t Google’d the size of vegetables and moose in Alaska then I urge you to! Maybe it isn’t so strange for Americans but as a South African I was blown away.
Another reason as to why my mindset on the many hours we work has changed is because of The French Alpine Bistro’s staff party. I had heard that it was something to look forward to and what occurred on Super Bowl Sunday didn’t disappoint. All members of the restaurant were invited to meet at Ajax at 11:30, and the day started off with a few runs.
This was the first time that many of us were skiing together, and people’s ability on the slopes mattered little. It was all about the company and experiencing time together outside of work. Next, a few bottles of Whispering Angel were shared at Sundeck and a group photo was taken to cement the occasion into memory. What followed, however, was the highlight of the day.
We all got down the mountain, some more gracefully than others after a few glasses of wine, and met at the restaurant at 3 o’clock. We were greeted by a harvest table full of food and drink and it was easy to tell that it was going to be a brilliant night. I don’t think any more details need to be provided (under strict instructions from management) other than that it was one of my favourite days of the season so far!
Working in Aspen is a huge part of our lives and with the right mindset I believe that it can be equally, or even more, rewarding than the skiing or partying.
More on the Saffas in two weeks. Cheers.
P.S. Saffa Day is on Thursday so come “jol” with us!
Will Norton is South African born and bred, and loves home. He will be writing twice monthly for The Aspen Times while he’s here. It’s true, there’s no place like it, but Aspen with 30 of your mates is pretty good, too.