Let’s Play Billy Bob Joe

Billy Bob Joe

“Come on, please? Billy Bob Joe!”

I sighed deeply. I’d heard this for the past 20 minutes, and I’m a lifty. My job isn’t really supposed to involve any children that aren’t about to be whisked away mechanically. As much as I like eight year olds, especially when they’re stoked and filled with that contagious eight year old energy, these ones had been hanging around the lift enjoying an endless sugar high for what felt like an eternity. It was fun, but they were tiring me out. On top of that, now they were demanding another game of Billy Bob Joe – a rousing variation of fetch played with empty milk or water jugs on which I and a co-worker who was on the night before had drawn a series of characters. The kids were all over it, and they continued to plead for another game.

I sighed again.


Moments later, the cartoon faces of Billy, Bob, Jo, Fred, JoeJoe, Johnny, and “Screm” were flying through the air in the little plaza nearby, with nearly no input on my part. It was impressive actually. Here we were, in a first world resort community and these kids were basically playing catch with trash. And they were loving every second of it.

I couldn’t help but think that this was humbling stuff. I’d rather not even guess at the combined value of all my outdoor gear, and though I get an immense amount of enjoyment out of it all, I can’t imagine having much more fun then those kids were with 15 cents worth of leftover recyclables. I mean, they were stoked.

When I was leaving home to start my job as a lifty, I packed everything I decided I would need, or even want for a summer spent living, working and playing in the mountains I love. I laid it all out the way I do when I pack for a big trip and I was intrigued to see how little space I really took up on my basement floor. Sure I left all my winter gear at home, but I still have a lot of summer stuff I use. Surely I’d spend hours paring the things I wanted down to just the essentials to save space, I thought. But I didn’t. I even overpacked a little on purpose, since I had the space.

It may take more than some milk jugs to hold my attention these days, but I’m not sure the fun I like to have is so different from that little game. It might contain a little more planning, complexity and suffering, but in the end, the feelings and moments I live for are likely mirrored in it. It’s a both a humbling and an inspiring reminder that the fun I have is simpler than I often make it out to be. It’s certainly more about moments than marketing budgets. The excitement shared with friends or the silent focus enjoyed alone is worth more than any piece of gear that enables it. We all have our milk jugs. Let’s play Billy Bob Joe.


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