A couple of weeks back - voice of the disgruntled Seasonairre 'Mr Furious' launched into a full blown rant on the downsides of transfer bus driving - venting on what have clearly been some very long hours with apparently unreasonable customers. But this week, we had a strong reply from the other side - standing up for the long suffering UK snowboarder sitting in the back seat.
Words by Pete Horswell
It takes a special kind of person to live in the UK and be a snowboarder.
It takes a special kind of person to live in the UK and be a snowboarder, able to suck it up for 50 weeks of the year, and survive on a week’s sustenance of snowboarding in the Alps. Stocking up enough memories and face plants to keep us amused until we can be back again next year.
To be laughed at as we mournfully take our snowboards to a local hill when there is a slight dusting - in the hope that maybe, this year, we’ll be able to say we snowboarded in the UK for further than 20metres.
It’s our only week in the Alps all year, we’ve scrimped and saved to afford to get here, we’ve mulled over the transport options and forked out to get this far. We’ve finally made it to Geneva airport to be greeted by you on the next stage of our journey back to the mountains that make our souls sing.
Don’t be confused by our flustered, stressed, travel-crumpled attire and world weary sighs, underneath this exterior is a budding snowboarder, someone learning to ride switch, looking forward to seeing the mountains - chilled out and ready to go.
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1. How's the snow? / What's the snow like? / Is there any snow? / Snow?
“I’m intrigued to know your position on the advancement of far right parties in European politics", isn’t going to be a line I’ll lead with as I meet you in arrivals having just fought my way through multitudes of ski wielding nutters in the vain hope of finding you. With my name spelt wrong and scrawled with a barely legible hand in fading felt-tip pen it’s proving a challenge.
We're on our way to the mountains - logic dictates that snow is a common bond that we share.
Let’s face it, I’m looking for an interesting conversation too, but we are on our way to the mountains, logic dictates that snow is a common bond that we share.
I’m British, meaning the weather is a fall back option when I’m meeting someone I’ve never met. Especially someone that I’m slighted intimidated by considering your evident ruggedness and beard growing ability. That and a fear that I’ve just put my life in the hands of someone who looks a cross between a Bernese mountain dog and the stoner kid that dropped out of school.
Hell, for all I know, you could BE the stoner kid that dropped out of school. Help me out here! Of course I’ve been checking the weather forecast. I’ve been getting Whitelines and the BBC weather site on the banned website list at work as the strain and excitement builds to that one week out of 50 when I can make it out to the mountains.
2. How long have you been here? Do you live here or...?
I am genuinely interested by this question.
I’ve not managed to make the move to the mountains, yet, maybe next year, I’ll have enough saved/have lost enough to call it quits and bunk on out to the Alps to see the mythical beast known as a seasonaire. However I have managed to save enough to escape the humdrum of the 9-5 and make it out here.
I want to believe there is hope for me to finally make the jump to the mountain lifestyle.
I’ve come from three months of solid drizzle and grey skys, I want to believe there is hope for me to one day make the transition, maybe listening to you tell me about bluebird powder days and dropping a hint about the best lines/lifts to hit after a fresh dump will be the motivation I need to finally make the jump to the mountain lifestyle.
Cut me some slack, hit me up with some tips about where to score some fresh pow, or I’ll start telling you about some little town in the UK where I live, where the nearest steep descent is Snowdon in Wales and torrential rain and floods are as close water-based precipitation as I get to fresh dumps and powder covered slopes.
3. Do you do this all the time or do you get to go skiing?
Judging purely on your aesthetic - I’m not sure if you live on the mountain or under the mountain. I don’t know if you do this as some slightly sadistic amusement for yourself or this is the only job they had going for someone who seems to think that bad manners and optional body hygiene is how everybody’s jobs pan out.
I don’t know if you do this as some slightly sadistic amusement or if this is the only job you could find..
I’m flagging here, I’ve had to get up at 4am to get to an airport for the cheapest flight as otherwise I couldn’t make it. I’ve watched screaming kids board the plane first knowing fully well that I’m going to be sat right behind them without a break for an hour and a half, all the time with my legs squashed into an unnatural position without having anything to eat or drink given the “reasonable" priced options on said cheapest flight.
I can only watch enviously as those who book with other airlines that rhyme with “MISSAIR" get a reasonably timed departure, a complementary sandwich, drink and chocolate on arrival...
4. Do you ski or “board"
Skiing is the tentative question, how am I supposed to know whether you ski or “board"?
If you “board" you are more likely to be chilled out and politely correct my mistake. If I asked if you were a “boarder" and you were a skier, it’s an awkward silence for an hour that frankly adds to the crap journey I’ve already had to endure.
Do you get Blue Peter’s badges for being such a dismal prick?
You’ve worked out I’m a snowboarder, you’ve launched my pride and joy into the back of your van without any sensitivity to the fact I can’t afford a new one, and this one is only just barely holding together with gaffa tape and superglue.
I’m still trying after you’ve shut down any conversations again, do you get Blue Peter’s badges for being such a dismal prick? It’s an obvious question as I’m not going to make assumptions that could lead to a fiery death in an “accidental" ravine plunge. I don’t have a clue if you are French, British, Australian or a Bulgarian mountain goat, I’m going to play it safe, I’m trying to feel my way into this conversation tentatively, maybe if you help me out we can have that interesting conversation you claim to desire.
5. Can we stop and get beer / cash / baby food / anal beads?
Here’s a thought, did you ever consider that the only reason I’m asking to stop is because the dozy kid at the foreign exchange only gave me 50euro notes, and I’m obviously going to give you a tip? I am British after all.
Did you ever consider that I want to stop to get change for your tip?
The thing is, it sure as hell won’t be a 50 euro tip with your surly attitude. The Renault van we're in looks like it hasn’t seen a mechanic for twenty years and this journey itself is costing me the price of a new jacket. Never mind the fact that the whole trip would have me re-mortgaging the house - IF I could even get on the property market in the first bloody place...
6. Where are the best bars / restaurants / strip clubs?
I’m still making gainful attempts here to glean some wisdom from you, I know full well that you are going to be lying through your teeth sending me to somewhere you won’t be.
I’m still making gainful attempts here to glean some wisdom from you.
Don’t worry though, I don’t want to see you and confirm the fact that you’re out the night before you drive - and will most likely pick me up half-cut with vomit stains in that magnificent beard. It certainly inspires me to make sure I book again with you next year.
Things I Will Reply...
Driver (On the phone) “Oh hi there it’s your transfer driver here, I was just wondering how you’re getting on?"
i.e. Where the fuck are you?!
Customer (On the phone) – “Yes I’m just on my way, sorry for the delay, I’ll be right there."
It’s not my fault the airport staff are lazy and underpaid, I’ve been waiting here for my board bag for the last 45 minutes, all the while surrounded by billboard posters advertising Swiss time pieces emphasising just how late I am. I know I’m going to be late, there is jack all I can do about it, and I’ve had to stand here waiting for my bag as skiers from flights later than mine swan up and pull their bags off the carousel.
Driver - “Would you like me to help you with your bags?"
i.e. If I don’t carry your bag this is gonna take us three hours...
Customer - “No that’s fine thank you"
It’s heavy, I don’t know you and I don’t trust you, if you can’t carry my bag because it’s heavy and hurt yourself I’m covered for some stupid legal crap that you look like you might try and pull.
Driver - “If you’d like to drop your bags at the back of the bus you can get in and make yourselves comfortable whilst I load them in."
i.e. PLEASE, for the love of fuck don’t try to load your bags in my van.
Customer - “Ok, Thanks"
I was only just going to let you know about that bottle of jaeger in my bag… don’t worry about it as it smashes to pieces at the bottom of your Tetris inspired packing, you’ve made that chalet based après ski disappear, so now I’m going to have to ask about bars in the area and we all know what you are going to say to that.
Driver - “If anybody feels unwell during the journey, then please let me know in plenty of time so I can pull over. I have receptacles if you need them."
i.e. I'm worried you're so hungover you're about to hurl
Customer - “Ok no worries dude!"
I’m not hung-over, I’m hungry and thirsty, I didn’t have time to get anything because I was late at the airport and you didn’t look like you’d let me grab something, and you sure as hell aren’t going to stop on the way. Although it certainly looks like this van could do with a lick of paint.
Final Thought: Should I give you a tip?
As I mentioned before I’m British, so the chances are I’m looking to give you a tip...
After sitting through an hour of head-banging against the self-imposed limits of your conversation making skills - I've got to say you're chances aren't looking great.
However, after sitting through an hour of head-banging against the self-imposed limits of your conversation making skills, AND your flat out refusal to cut me any slack - I've got to say your chances aren’t looking great. Especially when I get the distinct impression that you're in a hurry to get back to whichever ropey seasonaire in sweaty thermals is your squeeze this week.
It’s the first day of my holiday and thanks to your grumpy, hard-arsed attitude, I’ve arrived at the chalet with some broken kit, some worthless “insider" information and a few years taken off my life because of your penchant for driving whilst smelling like a brewery. At least we can agree on one thing, those French drivers sure are crazy, and for that reason alone, here’s a couple of euros to get you out of my face and my life for at least a week. You ass-clown.