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  • Writer's picturemolly ofgeography

the time i got stuck on a ski lift and almost ruined a family vacation

in hindsight, honestly, i'm MORE surprised it didn't happen sooner.


back when i lived with my dad, until i was 10 or so, we used to go skiing every (almost every??? many???? idk, i’m bad at time intervals) winter vacation. my dad’s family unit (brother-sister-stepmom-dad) was very athletic. my brother and sister were always doing Sport Things. i was not always doing Sport Things. i couldn’t catch a Sport Ball if you put superglue on my hands. Exasperated Coaches &; Me, A Retrospective Of Actual Events:

  • soccer camp, 1999: “ok team!!! time to run a lap to warm up!!” [girls takes soccer ball to middle of field. sits on it. puts chin in hands.] “mollyhall, we’re running a lap now.” [girl looks up at him, very Unimpressed By Sports.] “look, u get like, 15 minutes of running from me, tops. i can run it now or i can run it during the game but you have to choose one.”

  • after school basketball, 2004: after a penalty, girl bounces basketball at referee as hard as she can, just to see if she can bounce it over his head. everyone starts yelling. girl, genuinely confused:] “why is everyone so mad????”

  • girls crew, 2006: [girl writes a song about how eating elk bladder would be preferably to rowing girls crew, plays it on bus on the way to regattas.]


  • girls JV soccer, 2007: “can you please tell number 7 to stop cracking jokes on the field? it’s making our players laugh, and we don’t think she’s taking this game seriously.” [girl blinks slowly. she is absolutely, in no way, shape, or form, taking this game seriously.]

  • after school fitness, 2009: [girl grapevines for a mile]

BUT I DIGRESS. the point is: i am not athletic. one of the ways that this manifested in skiing was that it was hard for me to ski smoothly, because my naturally pigeon-toed feet meant that i was constantly “doing the pizza” which would bring me to a stop. which, i mean, that’s fine, except it meant that my skiing process was a lot like stop-and-go traffic.

if all the drivers were 200 years old, and absolutely FURIOUS that they were sitting in traffic and not in boca playing shuffleboard with their neighbors, gladys and darryl.


  • why is my imaginary son always named lil barry??? i don’t know.

it made me very slow, which in turn made me very boring for my brother and sister to want to hang out with, unless they were tricking me into going on black diamonds just to laugh at me scooting down the whole thing on my butt, complaining loudly.

anyway, i ended up riding the ski lift alone a lot. one time–i’m going to guess that i was around 8?? but that’s honestly a shot in the dark–the ski lift got to the top of the mountain, where you’re supposed to stand up and ski away, and the safety bar wouldn’t rise. it was stuck. and i mean, i was a loud kid (<– no one is surprised to learn this), but i was also VERY SHY AND STUBBORN about making a fuss when there was a problem?

  • this continuing issue has led to a lot of weird moments with my landlords.

  • “mollyhall what do you MEAN the bathtub hasn’t been draining right for a yEAR. a WHOLE YEAR??? WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SOMETHING.”

  • “well, my plan A was just to keep having to take three-minute-or-less showers for the rest of my life, and then eventually die.”

  • i just get so deeply annoyed that i can’t solve it on my own that i decide to live with the problem, or die on a ski lift.

so for those of you who don’t ski, the ski lift drops you off and then immediately heads back down the mountain. they don’t, at any point, stop moving. you just jump off and go on your merry way. i could not. i was stuck in a seated prison. “um,” i said. my brother and sister hopped off the lift in front of me. my turn was fast approaching, and the bar still wouldn’t lift. “ummmmmm.” i shook the bar. the bar did not budge. i said “please.” the bar was like “fuck you.” i tried to sort of slip under the bar, but i was outsmarted by engineering, which had specifically designed these lifts to prevent people from slipping out under the bar and plummeting to their deaths. as the ski lift sped past the part where you’re supposed to jump off and began turning around, i felt very sure that i was going to be trapped on that ski lift forever. people would tell the tale for years to come of Poor Brave Mollyhall, Who Died Of Old Age, Having Been Trapped On A Ski Lift For 84 Years.

  • then, as now, i had a flair for the dramatic.

luckily for me, at the top of every ski hill there’s a little hut with a bored employee in it getting paid to make sure that nobody atop the mountain is having any kind of emergency. he squawked like a turkey who’s just realized that it’s the day before thanksgiving, and ground the ski lift to a halt.


  • i would have loved to get off the lift.

  • me and this bored employee both wanted, very urgently, for me to get off of the lift.


i pushed at the bar. the teenager pulled at the bar. my sister and brother were already gone. people had begun to notice that the lift was stopped, and that a puffball in ski clothes was sitting alone on a lift halfway turned back on the mountain, blocked by a poor employee who looked like he was on the brink of a panic attack. “okay, this is okay,” he said. “this is fine. we’re all going to be fine.” he did not sound convinced. i started to cry. “i’m going to die on this ski lift.” “no!” he said. “no, you’re probably not!” “PROBABLY?????”

  • A WORD OF ADVICE: never introduce the concept of “probably” into someone’s confrontation of their own mortality.

  • i honestly don’t quite remember how it happened, but they ended up calling down the mountain to explain the situation, and had to send me down the mountain in the lift, alone, loudly wailing.

i like to imagine what skiiers below must have thought of that tiny, screaming puffball, a lone small puffball going the wrong way in a sea of slightly taller puffballs. i like to imagine them going back to their hotel rooms to tell their spouses/lovers/family, “dude, some puffball TRULY fucked up on the mountain today.” by the time i made it down the mountain, where a kindly technician came out and helped lift the bar and set me free, my brother and sister were convinced that i had died on the way down. my sister bought me a hot chocolate. my brother fed me french fries. everyone agreed not to tell our parents.


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