Roger Marolt: Roger This | AspenTimes.com
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Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger MaroltThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

I feel guilty about skipping out of work to take a run or two during the week. I dont know why. I work for myself so its not like Im doing it on anyone elses dime. Isnt that supposed to be one of the great benefits of being self-employed the ability to have enough flexibility with your schedule to goof off during the day so you can stay up all night to get the work finished, or at least worry about getting it finished while you toss and turn in bed? I believe it is why vampires dont work for anyone.Maybe I feel guilty because of the Puritan work ethic that has been forced upon me by society. It is our heritage. The first pilgrim to arrive in our great country had to work very hard. He did not do it to show off, get ahead, or to establish a college savings account for his children. He did it because it would have been a race to starve or freeze to death otherwise. As it was, the next pilgrim to show up faced similar conditions of depravity and had to work even harder as all the provisions on the ships were depleted and he had to rely solely on what he produced from the land. Unfortunately, even after things started to settle down and life became easier, the pattern had been set. Each successive pilgrim arriving after that had to work harder, not because he still needed to, but simply because he was an American.Ultimately, amidst unprecedented prosperity in the new world, modern Americans could no longer justify how hard they worked and how little they played. Tools to cope with the dilemma were invented. With the advent of revolving credit, Americans could accumulate all kinds of recreational equipment that gave the appearance of taking liberal advantage of leisure time while at the same time allowing them to accumulate huge amounts of debt which provided a built-in excuse not to. We no longer had to justify working harder than the next guy. We had to do it to keep our credit scores high. Anyone who did not understand this marked themselves as a recent arrival from Europe.You can see that I am a victim. The cultural forces, even way up here in the heart of R&R Central, so far away from the din of the opening and closing bell on Wall Street that it cant be heard on CNN, actually or figuratively, above the purr from treadmills and the whines of one-wheeled exercise bicycles at the Aspen Club, occupied by Aspenites in Lycra working out so that they can work out harder the next time, are so overpowering that the average citizen can hardly resist feeling guilty when not making a profitable deal of some kind or another. There is no other explanation for people skiing with cell phones, much less for people in pressed slacks walking purposefully through the mall, absentmindedly tapping rolled-up sheets of legal size paper against their thighs as they march determinedly forward with eyes glued to the ground. To waste time is to waste life, and all the money it can bring to an ambitious soul.If you dont think this prevailing work ethic exists here, all you need to prove it to yourself is the answer one simple question: Who is the most obnoxious person in your office? Without a doubt it is the person who skips out at lunchtime for a few laps on the bucket, and comes back with a rosy glow, messy hair, and reports that the snow was awesome! In the same vein, the laziest person at work is the one who shows up at 10 because she woke up at 5 to squeeze in a 60-mile training ride in preparation for the upcoming Ironman triathlon. As the old sayings go: No pay, no gain. If there is not production, it is a disruption.In my experience, there is only one effective way to deal with the guilt associated with pulling your nose off the grindstone long enough to see if it still grows when you are lying to yourself. You justify. Of course good rationalization takes many forms, but I have found that the best is to compare yourself unfavorably to somebody else doing something else somewhere else.When I need to go skiing in the afternoon, I tell myself that I deserve it because, with all my immense talent that there is no demand for or recognition of in this Podunk town, I could be making a killing in the city. I look at the morons running large banks, investment firms, and domestic automobile manufacturing companies. I note that in running their respective companies into the ground, and taking the rest of the world with them, that they earn huge bonuses measured in millions of dollars. I could do that, I tell myself. But I dont, because Im stuck here. The least reward I can take for suffering so is to strap on the boards a couple afternoons each week and hit the Ridge of Bell.The real problem with this perfect justification for slacking off is that it works for others as well as it does for me. Its not that I begrudge anyone around here from joining me for a little sunshine and fresh air out on our slopes and trails. I have confidence that locals usually find ways to slack off that are mostly positive, the biggest fraud being to the Housing Authority which requires full-time employment for residency in its product. Who I worry about are the money grubbers running the country. They cant walk from their offices to the gondola a few times a week. That might allow them to justify stealing their big bonuses.

Roger Marolt is currently out of the office. Leave a message at roger@maroltllp.com.


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