Happy Easter by Ivar Jacobson

April 12, 2004:  Happy Easter! 

I hope you have had a great Easter holiday.  I spent my holiday in Verbier, Switzerland.  This is the place I call home.  It is a small village with just a few thousand residents, high up in the Alps.  During the skiing season the village is filled with people from all around the world.  I love it here as I am a passionate skier and hiker.  In the summertime this place is a paradise for hikers.  Moreover, at the end of July every year one of the greatest music festivals in the world takes place here.  The village has lots of activities and it offers great food and wine. And it has great connections to the rest of world, both in transportation and telecommunication.

I have nothing serious for you today.  I can’t think about serious things this wonderful day.  Instead I have been skiing all day.  The weather has been fantastic, sunny and clear skies. The snow perfect, not wet as is quite normal for this time of the year.  After a full week of skiing I went to the ski-rental to return my skis.  I will go on my next trip (to Seoul) the day after tomorrow, and I know I won’t be able to ski anymore.

I enter the ski-rental, greet the people happily and tell them I want to return my skis.  They look happy but a bit surprised. “But those skis are not our skis”, the renter says.  “What?” I scream. I look at the skis and immediately realize that I have someone else’s skis.  I feel awful.  What have I done?  When did it happen?  

-- “Oh, I know, it must have happened after lunch, 3 hours ago, when I went out from the restaurant at the top.  I must have taken the wrong skis, they look very similar.” 

After some discussion we agree that I should go up to the restaurant and see if my skis are still there.  Thus I take a long walk in ski boots carrying someone else’s skis.  Every skier knows how fun that is.  After a two hundred meter walk I take the cable car up to the mid-mountain -- Ruinette.  It takes about 12 minutes.  Then I take another cable car to the top – Les Attiles – this takes another 10 minutes.

With high expectations I walk over to the restaurant.  I look for my skis.  There are less skis now but still some 20-30 pairs.  I walk up to the spot where I had put my skis…and there in the snow, lying down -- are my skis!  I become happy as a bird.  I found my skis!  

Now, what should I do with the other skis? The ones I had involuntarily stolen.  It was more than 3 hours since the mix-up.  Would the owner expect the skis to come back?  After some thinking I decides to leave the skis where I first took them and go to the police in the village and tell them my story.  After all it was just a pair of skis.  Well, I know how I would have felt if I came out from a restaurant and my skis were stolen.  I could only hope for that the owner was smaller than me. J

Thus, I decide to put on my original rental skis and ski all the way down.  I try step into them, but it doesn’t work well at all.  After a couple of attempts, I understand that these skis are not mine.  They belong to someone else.  The skis are of exactly the same type as mine, and they come from the same ski-rental.  Unbelievable!  Slowly, I start to understand the situation.  There must be three ski owners involved.  The guy, who owned the skis I just found in the snow, had of course taken my skis.  The third owner is the poor guy whose skis I took.

However, to be sure to not make another mistake, I take one of the skis that I, a few minutes ago, thought were mine and walk into the restaurant.  I go from table to table and ask every guest, if he or she is the owner of the skis that were similar to mine.  Can you imagine what it takes to do that?  I felt like an idiot asking everyone: “Is this your ski?”  People start to make jokes.  They are laughing and smiling.  After having asked everyone without anyone recognizing the ski, I feel certain that my theory about three owners is right.  I take the skis that were similar to mine, but not mine, on my shoulders and go to the cable car to go down.

On my way a really big guy stops me and says “Hey buddy, where are you going with my skis?”  I am chocked.  I start to tell my story.  As you can imagine, it is not easy to know where to start.  However, I think I succeeded in convincing him that I was not trying to steal his skis.  I apologize so much and give him his skis.

So, I am back at square one.  Someone has taken my skis and I have taken his skis.  Now I take a bold decision.  I will go back with the wrong skis to the ski-rental and hope that my original skis are returned – and the guy who returned my skis will get his skis back.  Maybe I will see an end to this story.

Thus I go all the way down using the cable cars, first to Ruinette and then down to the village.  I walk the two hundred meters down to the ski-rental.  Halfway, I meet a young lady who looks at me with an interested look.  When I come close I understand she doesn’t look at me but at my stolen skis.  And she says:

-- You have…hmm…you have my skis!-- Well, yes, do you have mine?-- Why on earth would I have your skis? she says.

-- Good question!, was the best answer I could come up with.

Well, I explain the whole story to her.  Then she says:

-- I was waiting for an hour to see if you would come back.  I saw a pair of skis similar to the ones you have.  They were still there when I left.-- Well, I was just up there to see if they were there, I said.  But they were gone.-- Did you really look carefully? I am asking because I saw them just half an hour ago.-- OK, I will go up to Attilla and look once more.

-- Attilla?, she said.  Attilla, no!  They were at Ruinette!!!

Suddenly the whole picture becomes clear to me.  I didn’t loose my skis outside the restaurant, but at the mid station where I did some stretching before going down the last slope.  Thus I took off my skis to stretch.  After having stretched I took the wrong skis.  It is hard to understand that I could make such a mistake.

The young lady was at first angry like a bee.  Then I told her that I thought my mistake was made on the top.  I also told her about the other skis I was about to steal.  At this time she started to laugh.  I tell her that I want to compensate her for her suffering.  I ask her if I can offer her a glass of wine or two.  She says, yes, that would be great… 

 I then went up to Ruinette again.  I find my skis where I had left them one and a half hour ago.  And that is the end of the story.  However, I can’t resist thinking how different this story could have ended.  Suppose, that I had “succeeded” in taking the other pair of skis at the top.  Then I would have “stolen” two pair of skis (in the same day) and probably been known as a ski thief in Verbier, a reputation I can do without.  And, I wouldn’t have been able to offer the young lady a couple of glasses of Pinot Noir!