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  • Will

bricks and feathers

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

Photo: Somewhere up high looking down on Sankt Anton am Arlberg

Dec. 2013

At last, arrived in Sankt Anton. Ah! Austria, the land of edelweiss, the sound of music, beautiful women and fathers who want to dig dungeons.

Photo: from Google maps, thank you Google for your maps.

I have a wise saying, “if you want to know which way the wind blows … don’t drop a brick”. As an example, if you had asked my employer “will you provide three meals a day, as stated in the contract?” they would have replied “yes”. This is a “brick” question, you know the answer before you ask. Instead, you have to ask oblique, casual questions, and study “what” is done rather than what is "said". Feathers give you a clue as to the breeze, not a brick.

I spent five years in the Royal Air Force, and I have eaten more than my fair share of grim food. Well, the first meal off that bus was right up there with the absolute best of the worst I’ve ever consumed. It was a cube, literally a 12cm cube of solidified spaghetti bolognese. It had started life as spaghetti and bolognese, then it was all mixed in a metal pot and stuck in the fridge. I give it a 5 barf rating. My portion was microwaved to perfection, cold inside and out, a culinary indigestible masterpiece. Technically the company had provided one of the three meals a day, no one said it had to be edible.

As much as I would enjoy a trip down Moaning Alley, I won’t … but I will say, it got worse.

Photo: I loved my bright blue and pink uniform

However, St Anton is a beautiful typically Austrian town. It sits at 1,000m altitude, surrounded by snow splattered mountains, has the largest “off-piste” skiing in Europe and is considered a “party town” woop woop. My warm clean comfortable SINGLE room (I won the golden ticket) was in St. Jakob, just a kilometre away.

My job was fantastic. My first shift started at 07.00 and finished three hours later at 10.00, then I was free until 16.00. That was six whole hours free, double woop woop.

Photo: The morning routine started with snow chains and sweeping of the windscreen.

I decided to buy a season pass for the local wellness centre. It cost a small fortune but it turned out to be a fantastic decision. The centre included a well-equipped fitness room, indoor and outdoor pools, six saunas and a “recovery” room with loungers overlooking the snow-covered slopes. At 10.00 I would hand over the keys and waddle (I weighed in at a flabby 85 kilos) off for my training regime. When I left St. Anton I was a cool ripped 73 kilos. Treble woop woop.

Back at base hotel for 16.00, I picked up the keys and instructions for my evening shift, which was the same as the morning with the addition of driving staff home after their shifts had finished. I was normally in bed around midnight. This was my routine Monday to Friday, my day off was Saturday. Sunday was client changeover day and therefore sits outside the four dimensions of the known universe.

Even though the company would turn out to be total shite, my job was great, St. Anton, amazing, my seasonaire colleagues, fantastic, and the lifestyle … err … interesting.

#pilgrim #austria #seasonaire

For those who don’t know here is the seasonaire package.

  • I give them £100 as a deposit to finish my contract, this was one of those feathers. I mean what company forces an employee to pay a deposit as an “administrative” charge in case you leave?. It must mean they have several people leaving … I wonder why?

  • I pay for my own insurance.

  • The company covers the cost of transport to and from the resort.

  • I got paid the enormous sum of €84 a month.

  • I get my food (a theoretical three meals a day, which never happened).

  • I get a bed, mine was great but some of my young colleagues were in terrible places.

  • The company pay for a season lift pass, this is a BIG plus.

  • And they hire ski / snowboard gear for the season, another big plus.

For this package, the seasonaire signs away all rights to be treated as a human being, and all normal expectations of employment are suspended for the term of the contract.

The company reserve the right to make you do … well almost anything.

All that being said. It was a blast.

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