The Code is like Mr. Rogers. I think Mr. Rogers is a great role model for both kids and adults. I say this in all seriousness. Really. The world would be so much better if we had more people like Fred Rogers was, and fewer people like ... well, pick your villain. I wish I were more like him, and I try to be. Often I fail in that effort. Sometimes I'm sorry and resolve anew to make a better attempt next time. Occasionally, though, I just get sick of the cardigan sweater and feel the need to put on something that generates a little more electricity.
I believe that few to no skiers with any ambition to push the breadth or depth of their skills and experiences - that is to say, most Bears - follow both the letter and the spirit of the Code 100% of the time. Our behavior with respect to the code happens on a continuum. Call being a model citizen at all times an in all places, where no one's physical or mental comfort and safety could ever possibly be compromised in any way by our actions, a "10." (Not sure this is even possible, by the way, regardless of intentions.) Being a complete jackass and a danger to everyone on the slope would be a "0." Most of the time, I and the good skiers I see operate at a about a 9 on this scale, and sometimes more like an 8. This is like the rest of life, right? We try to be considerate and friendly and respectful and compassionate. We try to put "safety" - be it literal or figurative - first, but we don't always succeed. We have ambitions and we have emotions. Others' behavior thwarts us and/or ticks us off sometimes, and occasionally we do self-centered end-runs around them to get what we think we need or deserve. Sometimes it's not individuals' specific behaviors that frustrate, but just circumstances. (Think very crowded hill, way too full of well-behaved skiers.) The end-runs may even become habitual. Example: I regularly take a short cut, on my way to the Wednesday night race, having, as always, been delayed at work, through a neighborhood that I suspect may technically be off-limits to through traffic. Similarly, when it comes to safety, we occasionally take minor calculated risks in our efforts to mediate between the real and the ideal. If I'm driving to my favorite hill and get stuck behind a slowish car on a 2-lane road, by far the safest thing to do is to just sit there at a safe and respectful distance and wait 'til the other car turns off, when I can resume my desired speed. This is true even if a marked (but frequently marginal, in the hilly, densely populated, and heavily forested local geography where I live) passing zone comes along, with no cars coming in the other direction. The fact that it's technically legal to pass in this place doesn't necessarily change the fact that it's probably safer not to pass. What do I do? I make the pass. Yes, I signal first. Do both the 80-year-old granny in front of me and the distracted pedal-happy 20-year-old behind me notice my signal? Maybe, maybe not. Should I tap the horn - "on your left!" - before I pass? Probably not. Is there a chance that someone I can't yet see will turn out of a driveway or small road into the oncoming lane, once I'm committed? Yes. Do I still decide to make the pass? Yes, I do.
So it is with the Code. There is a built-in tension around it, just as there is a built-in tension between individual liberty and the common good. On the one hand, we want to do everything we can to make sure we don't do anything to prevent others from having the happiest and safest day possible on the slopes. Moreover, being experienced skiers who have observed and thought about these things, we know full well how to do that. On the other hand, there are moments such that we want to let it rip at a level that is not fundamentally compatible with having lots of other people on the hill, all sensible and well-intended but not always furiously practicable advice to "get yourself onto a closed course" notwithstanding. So we keep the Code in mind, always. And we think about safety, always. But we compromise, don't we? We err heavily on the side of safety, yes. At the same time, we don't always drive like granny, and we don't always ski like Mr. Rogers. Do we? Just saying.