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Sports Then and Now



The Real Life of a Zamboni Driver 71

Posted on October 28, 2013 by Martin Banks

Last November I was working at a poorly managed tractor dealership that was running out of work. Instead of laying me off, they put me “On Call,” with no intention to call me back. So, after a game at the local rink, I was hanging out with the rink manager and asked “you guys hiring?” fully expecting him to say no. Instead, he replied, “Sure, you wanna drive the Zamboni?”

Zamboni

DO I WANT TO DRIVE THE ZAMBONI???? I could barely stutter out a “yes,” hardly believing my good luck. It was like being handed the keys to my dad’s classic Mustang. Every kid wants to ride/drive the Zamboni when they grow up. There’s something inherently cool about that machine. It is completely unique to hockey, and has an aura of hockey legacy that surrounds it. The mythical Zam driver (those of us in the business call it a “Zam…”) is like the wise old sage of the rink, like Hans in the Mighty Ducks (I know he sharpened skates, but no ones dreams of doing that.). Excited kids press their noses to the glass to watch as the Zamboni lays that smooth sheet of glass like a calm shimmering pond. Fans fill out little lottery cards for their chance to ride the Zam at a pro hockey game. And recently, I’ve found that lots of people have driving or riding one on their “bucket list.”

Zam2

But in reality, its a thankless job. You’re always the killjoy who has to kick people off the ice earlier than they want. You’re also the jerk who takes too long to cut the ice, taking away precious minutes of ice time. Basically, I end up being a glorified lifeguard/janitor making just above minimum wage. Read the rest of this entry →

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