We are hugging/slapping each other on the back, cheek kissing. After a huge month long push, when one event fell into another event and thousands of people depended on a few people to make certain they were safe, and responded to, and had toilet paper in the restroom, we are catching out collective breath.
The competitive skiers/jumpers have been awarded medals and are Sochi bound. Their races and trials and celebrations, complete with bands that played for free for supporters, were amazing and spectacular and filled the days and flood-lit nights. And it all happened so quickly and professionally, and safely and pretty seamlessly. Traffic was a little congested for an hour or three but that's about the worst thing you could say. Folks who have never/will never, compete on a ski hill, nonetheless felt themselves racing down the mountain, wind burn on their face, fly high in the air over jumps and land, just so, at the finish. When the Olympic jackets were handed out, observers wrapped their own jackets around themselves just a little bit tighter. The energy exchanged in World Cup races and the Grand Pre event meant a tiny piece of us travels with those athletes in a way that is palpable.
The film lovers and film makers and film actors, directors and cinematographers, all came to town, for days on end, to celebrate their craft/industry. Their dreams, years in
the making, were about to be unveiled and critiqued in a matter of hours. Thousands of folks would be giving Ebert-style thumbs up or down to their years of hard work. Thousands more, would want to talk to them about their craft. And hundreds would manage to do so.
It really didn't snow during all this time. The sun shone instead. Which was lovely on the one hand and created some mean ice on sidewalks and ski hills. And with every event there were folks who crossed their own personal fun barrier, trying to go where no part of them had ever gone before. The fire department and police department answered more calls than in any similar time frame. The city crews were de-icing and moving barricades and putting up new ones and picking up trash left behind. Lots of trash.
And just plain folks, servers at the restaurant, cashiers at the gas station, checkers at the market, kept up their smiles and made change and kept everything/one moving along smoothly. For years lots of folks have agreed to this unspoken/unwritten pact. We are here to serve in the crazy times. We are going to make your time in our town as magical as we know how. You will leave here wanting to return, at the very least, to visit again and often, to move here. And when the event (whatever shape is has taken) is over, we will have the satisfaction of sharing the knowledge, it was a job, well done. Together.
And we know, without any formal orientation that tells us so, we are all tied into the guest services business, somehow. Instilled too, without mention, is, we want to excel at service, be better than that other resort town, hotel, restaurant, ski shop states away. We recommend each other. We support each other. And though we (ok especially me when I'm honest) don't say it near enough, we genuinely appreciate each other. Hard work, dedication, professionalism, and a sense of joy, infuse our lives and can be contagious. We not-so-secretly know, we have collectively created a town that works for our guests and then when they leave, works so very well for each other.
Yes, there are days/nights when the delicate balance feels like it has tipped. When you forget to take your secret route out of town during the "rush/ski hour." Or you try to drive to Main Street and park on the street in the middle of a major event. Or your favorite popular restaurant, has filled your favorite table and can't seat you for an hour, three times a year.
These, we like to say, in a cliched way, are First World problems. We know we have it good. Really, really good. And in the next weeks when the media shows the Olympic stories and over and over they come back to stories about Park City kids who are competing, part of their back story will be us. Us, the town. How they learned to ski, jump, compete here. How their family, friends, neighbors supported them. And what a picture-perfect backdrop we, the town will be, to those heart-warming stories.
And yes, this week, many, many, many of us are tired. Sniffly. Achy. Sleep deprived, still. But with a slightly smug sense of satisfaction that January in Park City was about as jam-packed as any month could ever be and we survived it. And our guests loved it.
So thank you, to every server, liftie, trash picker upper, and cashier in the store/shop/station/restaurant. And the most sincere and appreciative and admiration filled thanks to the firefighters/ambulance drivers and cops on the beat, who responded over and over and over again to false alarms and full-on emergencies and handled each with the skill and grace we have come to expect/depend upon.
There so many great places to live on this planet. I know that. But I am grateful to live in this one and be surrounded by such committed, hard working/playing/loving folks, each and every Sunday in the Park....
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the organization that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.