Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Polish ski lifts

I tried to breathe deeply. Marek twisted his head towards me and asked if I was ok. 'Yes, fine! Just don't move too much' I screeched as the rope slowly pulled us up the mountainside. My ski seemed to have formed a deep attachment to Marek's and kept sliding over on top of his. I concentrated on keeping both feet facing forward and staying relaxed. Something wobbled. 'Argh! Don't!' I cried. 'I'm not doing anything' Marek stated calmly. But I was no longer relaxed, my hand gripping the bar upon which we were perched and my skis taking on lives of their own. 'I'm going to fall again!' I realised as my ski took me away from Marek and the lift's path. 'What are you doing?' He asked as I landed on my bum. I gave him a sour look and looked back down the mountain. 'Carry on, I'll meet you at the top.' I generously offered.

I still had both skis attached to my feet so got myself out of the way of oncoming skiiers and slid back down to where skiiers joined the lift. The man helping people get started tried to ignore me. I helpfully made frantic gestures in his direction. He gave in and with a lot of pointing and shouting above the noise of the machinery, communicated his wish that I go round to the special queue-avoiding gate and wait for further instructions.

As I waited by the gate, avoiding curious gazes from people in the queue, a second lift employee started unscrewing one of those huge convex mirrors from a random post. The first man shouted out his name and gestured to me. The second man glanced over at me and asked the first man something, I guess along the lines of 'why should we? it's her own silly fault'. The first guy then replied, presumably explaining how I'd fallen and proposing that I should be allowed another go free of charge. The second guy looked dubious about this proposition so when he walked towards me, still with the enormous mirror in his hands I gave him a big smile. (In my experience smiling at people helps more often than not.)

I think I may have overdone it with the smiling.

As he approached, he got this twinkle in his eye and when I asked if it would be ok to have another go, held up the mirror so I could look at my own reflection: 'Only because you are an angel' he proclaimed at the top of his voice. I eyed him nervously. 'SÅ‚ucham?' I thought maybe I'd misunderstood his Polish. 'You are an angel so you can go again' he repeated. I giggled nervously, darting embarassed glances at the queue, and an eye at my dishevelled state in the mirror. 'Er, yeah ok thanks...'

He let me through the gate and stood next to me, still trying to show me my reflection and repeating my angelic status. I just sort of mumbled and blushed under my ski hat. Finally it was my turn and I grabbed the bar of the lift gratefully. I didn't look back.

It worked though, the threat of the angel man with his big scary mirror was all it took. I didn't fall off another lift again for the rest of the holiday.

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