Bum Jobs

The search for an outdoor gig.

Finding the ideal outdoor bum job is a complicated task. As with any other career hunt, one must evaluate his or her personal skills and proceed from there. In this case, the difficulty emerges as you begin to realize that skiing off cliffs and paddling whitewater have almost zero monetary value. So how do we convince the world that our passions are worth something? Listed here are just a few scams to pay the bills while doing what you love.

PERKS: Discounted gear
DRAWBACKS: Must have good imagination

This entry-level position requires only the cool and knowing demeanor that the ski customer depends on. Identify your targets as they peruse the season’s new boards, point to whatever they happen to be looking at, and say “those just came in.” Now that you have their interest, grab a pair, one for each of you, and begin flexing them. “Can you feel the responsive rebound from the multigrain maple core?” you ask. No, they can’t, and neither can you, and it doesn’t matter: you’re providing the customer with justification for spending $800 on new toys, which is all that they ask. Short-sleeve plaid shirt, Smith baseball cap, shorts, and sandals are required attire.

DRAWBACKS: Pulling hooks out of unusual places

A fishing guide is a lot like a drug dealer: you make your money by fostering a time-consuming, albeit pleasurable habit that contributes little to society. Once a tourist accompanies you for his first experience, he will most likely return time and again from far away places to get his fix, enabling you to support your own shameless addiction. Selecting a fly shop from which to operate is similar to becoming a gang member, and so it’s best to stick to a location where you have street cred with the locals. The tips at the end of the day are relatively good, but as with anything, float guiding has its downsides—in this case, occasionally pulling hooks from clients in places that should be impossible to hook oneself, and eating cold Albertson’s fried chicken for lunch on the river… every single day.

PERKS: Free skiing
DRAWBACKS: Scraping beginners off the exit ramp

Whether you’re killing time before you attend medical school or have no such plans whatsoever, becoming a ski patroller is the next best thing. After passing an E.M.T. course, you are then qualified to adorn the red uniform that has so well disguised ski bums throughout the decades. Ski patrolling also offers an opportunity to act on urges that are otherwise frowned upon, such as lighting and throwing explosives. The burden of early mornings are easily overshadowed by fun traditions such as reporting fake slide danger so you can score first tracks and having avalanche-cannon fights with buddies posted on the other side of the mountain. Patroller: you’re not a doctor, but you play one on the ski hill.

PERKS: Free pens
DRAWBACKS: Papercuts, hate mail

You have now reached the bottom of the barrel in your considerations. One is expected to be seen at the office every once and a while, typing out hazy recollections of outdoor misadventures and making up the parts you don’t remember. Upon accepting this position, try and pull your life together, comb your hair, look presentable. There is a certain degree of professionalism that is to be expected, so just hide your bottle when the editor walks by and he’ll do the same. Perks include a few college interns who can be fired for any mistakes you make, which one can feel guiltless about as the kids are a dime a dozen.