Last weekend I had the pleasure of spending my first day of the season on the slopes. I’m an avid snowboarder, heading up to the hill as often as I can each year. I didn’t waste any time this season and got myself up to Hunter Mountain in New York as soon as I was able.
We decided to get a slope-side condo for the night before so that we could be there as soon as the lifts opened. Hunter is a four hour drive for me, so it made sense.
The trek up I-87 was a tough one. I got caught in the storm that just wouldn’t stop. My windshield kept freezing over and I could only cruise at a steady 45 mph. It took a while, but as I exited the highway, my excitement climbed through the roof. I didn’t care how long it would take, I would get there.
A buddy of mine was meeting me there and was about 30 miles behind me. What I didn’t realize was that in the time it would take to go 30 miles, the storm would make the roads unusable. As much as he tried (and I mean really tried), there was no way that he was going to make it through the gorge the led to the mountain. After a few hours of chasing salting trucks and plows, he gave up, and got a motel somewhere in town, leaving me to my own devices in this slope-side condo.
I woke up as early as I could and headed out on my own. I was standing at the lift when they powered it on, and got up to the top before anyone else had a chance to ride the 14 inches of fresh snow we had received the night before. It was a gift from mother nature.
Instead of heading straight for the Black Diamonds like I usually do, I decided to take a long Blue that wrapped around the side of the mountain. I was the only one on it. Freshly groomed and wide open; it was the best first run that I ever could have asked for.
When I reached the bottom, I decided to take a little break. A bit winded and overly excited, I just wanted to take my time, and take it all in.
That’s when I met Robert.
Robert and I started a conversation about nothing. It was one of those conversations that you have with a total stranger that is polite, but excited about the moment. It stood out as pleasant, and the conversation moved smoothy. He invited me to join him and his lady on their next run. I was there alone, and he was being polite.
On the lift I told him about how my buddy didn’t make it up, and how I was considering spending another night because my car was snowed in, and I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to make the ride home. We talked about work. We talked about kids.
This was when Robert taught me something about humanity. As we approached the top of the mountain, he casually said, “you should stay in my room. I have a room for the week, but I have to leave for the night, and I’ll be back on Tuesday.” Having known Robert for a full 8 minutes, I was already able to tell that he wasn’t kidding. This complete stranger had offered up, out of complete kindness, a free hotel room for the night. For no reason other than he had met a nice guy on the slopes.
Now I don’t know about you, but that’s not something that I would do. Maybe I’ve spent too much time living in the city, or maybe I’m more jaded than I thought I was. But offering a complete stranger your open hotel room for the night is not something that I would ever imagine doing. But he did it. Robert taught me a lesson.
We went our separate ways after two runs, and exchanged phone numbers. Two hours later, I got a text from him that he had left a key for me at the front desk. I didn’t really know how to thank him. So I gave him words:
After the day was done, I realized that I really couldn’t take him up on his offer. The snow had melted a bit and the roads were clear. I had no reason to not try and make it home:
I’m still speechless about the whole thing. I want to be nicer in life. I want to help complete strangers. How do I pay this forward?