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Maze management made easy

Bob Gagne

In 1972, I was teaching in a small resort in New Zealand. The year that I arrived, the resort had their first chair lift installed. Prior to that, they operated with only rope tows, Poma lifts and T-bars.Because the resort had previously used only surface lifts, lift mazes were practically non-existent. Whenever anyone wanted to ride to the top, they aggressively shoved their way forward until they bullied their way to the front. Management wasn’t quite sure how to feed guests into the chair. Their first solution was to construct a “funnel” that started wide at the back and narrowed down to the width of two skiers at the front. It was a great idea, but the plan failed miserably. Next, the lift operators tried the “polite” approach by posting signs and asking people to wait their turn in line. That didn’t work either.Having exhausted all of the more traditional methods of crowd control, the lift operators finally came up with a creative skit that they performed at the busiest time of the day.Every morning, one of the lift operators went into the rental shop and looked in the lost and found bin for an old pair of abandoned skis. He then disguised himself as a regular guest and skied up to the back of the lift line. Starting at the back, he started yelling obnoxious obscenities as he bludgeoned his way forward: “Excuse me! Hey, I need to get up by my friend. Hey, buddy. I was here first.” By the time he had made his way to the front of the line, he had everyone’s attention. About the time that the obnoxious “guest” reached the front of the line, the other lift operator shut down the lift. Being a loud diesel, it was dead silent when the lift was off.The lift operator then yelled at the “guest”, “Hey, you can’t do that! Can’t you read the signs? You’re not allowed to push your way forward.”At that, the lift operator reached inside the lift shack and pulled out a large, double-headed fire axe. He proceeded to whack off the tips of the obnoxious guest’s skis, then walked back and started the lift again.The skiers in the maze watched in horror as the obnoxious guest passed overhead with two ski stubs dangling from his feet. The lift operator then announced to the crowd,”Ladies and gentlemen. Please wait your turn in line.”Vail, Colorado


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