A True Barter

24 January 2013

A True Barter

“The wheelbarrow is shit, so take this garbage can over here across the parking lot to where we store the fire wood.  Fill that up to however much you’re able to handle, and then bring the wood back over near the front door to the small wood shed where we store the wood.  Also, please bring two loads down to the television room too. Thanks Dustin!’’

That was my job from 4PM- 6:30PM for two evenings at the Peruvian Lodge at Alta.  I rolled into Salt Lake City to find that my contacts here were unable to find me a place to stay.  Being understanding and tired from a full-day’s drive from Colorado, I decide to get a room at the Days Inn for the night.  The next day, Claire texts me to let me know that she was able to set me up with a deal at the Peruvian Lodge at Alta Ski Resort.  For three hours of work, I receive room and board.  Sounds good to me.

For three hours of stacking firewood, I received a Nordic Room and dinner.  The Nordic Room consisted of a private room with two twin beds, and a private sink.  The bathroom, while a community facility, is nicely maintained, and quite fancy… it definitely isn’t the community bathroom on the second floor of the Hennepin Residence Hall at Siena College. No puke or sink ripped off the wall, but two clean shower stalls, granite countertop, etc.

While working I realized the kindness that is imbedded in the western United States (not to say the Northeast is mean and rude). Guests and employees alike said hello in passing.  When I went in for employee dinner, I sat down and a young woman (originally from MA) began asking me who I was, where I was from, why I was at the Peruvian… small talk to welcome me to Alta.  Even some of the guests helped me carry the bin of wood up the two steps to get to the wood shed next to the front door. John, the manager of the Peruvian, was super nice, always saying thank you after telling me the few different tasks I was to do.

At another level I realized what a barter was.  Work for room and board.  That was something I’d heard of on ranches, but didn’t think it existed at a ski resort.  Nor did I ever think I’d work for room and board in my life, but I did it, and I enjoyed it.  The fresh air, beautiful scenery, and a good workout.  It was good for the mind, body, and soul.  What better economic exchange too.  I mean, I don’t mind stacking fire wood, and I get a room and food in exchange… Sounds like a deal to me.

Work for room and board.  A true barter.

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