Hurry Up and Wait

2007-05-31 20:11:27.000 – Bill Grenfell,  Retail Manager


“Hurry up and wait” is the unofficial motto of most branches of the military. They make you run (and I really mean run) from point A to point B after which, you are required to stand/sit idle waiting for the event that was so important that you had to actually run to it.

You could say that this is happening on the summit right now. We have been running for weeks to get everything set up, completed, polished and prepped. This task has been more difficult this year than most years in the past due to the remodeling of the gift shop and the museum.

I am the Retail Manager for the Observatory and for nearly a year it’s been my job to improve all aspects of the retail operation here at MWO. The plan for the summit was to be a simple one. “We’ll just move this exhibit from here to there and get rid of that one altogether… Maybe move this wall a little to the left, some new lights and some carpet and voila! Twice as much retail space as before! Instant gratification! That would have been the way of things if this job were to be done almost anywhere else but the summit of Mount Washington.

We started (tried to start) in January. The “construction crew” (myself, Peter Crane, Director of Programs, Exhibit Fabricator John Mitchell, and J.T. the Electrician) were scheduled to come up several times in January, February and March but each time we tried to make the trip we were turned back by severe weather, too much slush, too much mud, too much rain, a ‘Nor Easter that thrashed the mountain with just about every kind of precipitation possible that froze up into huge pile of pain in the neck pie… I mean, come on! Fortunately there was a volunteer duo with extensive carpentry experience that made it up for a week and was able to get a good start on the project. (Thank you Charlie and Janine! You are my heroes!)

Finally, one day, we made it to the summit. Mind you, “making it to the summit” entailed loading supplies into a full size 4×4 pickup truck with huge chains on the tires, driving half way up the mountain, unloading all the tools, luggage, materials, people, flotsam and jetsam from the truck and reloading it all onto/into the Bombardier Snow Tractor (aka “The Snow Cat”), creeping our way up the mountain, then dragging all the afore mentioned “things” to the construction (disaster) zone. We would work for a couple of days then reverse the process. ( I actually had a blast doing all this but don’t tell my boss!)

To make a long story just a little longer… Everyone involved gave every ounce of energy they could give, all the pieces came together beautifully in the end (thank you Alan Reed from Art Lee Floor Coverings for a very generous donation of carpet and installation, it looks awesome!). The carpet install was done at 4:00pm and the summit staff swarmed the gift shop, hanging tee shirts and putting products on shelves. Everyone on the sturdy crew hung on like a pack of angry Pit Bulls until the project was complete at the surprisingly early hour of midnight. It was almost enough to bring a tear to my eye! I couldn’t have asked for better coworkers and I am extremely pleased with the result. We opened on Saturday May 26th and had a banner Memorial day weekend. The weather was perfect, the Mount Washington Auto Road was perfect, it was just a glorious weekend! I couldn’t be happier.

Now, the weekend is over, the fog has rolled in, the rain has started, we are looking at 4 days in the clouds, things have slowed to a (not unexpected) crawl and we wait…


Bill Grenfell,  Retail Manager

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