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They pay people for this?

I lost my inhibitions in Aspen,Got drunk, ended up in a trash bin,Found a manwith condom in handHe said, “Hey girl, where’s your ass been?”Mine was on Ajax all day Sunday, doing some pro bono work for the Aspen Skiing Co. and enjoying a much-anticipated spring ski day. A few hours sitting at the Tavern during après generated the above limerick – the only legible and printable one produced that day.It was during my first ride up the gondola that I realized I had turned into a Skico employee overnight – purely by accident. It was my red ski jacket and white pants that gave my fellow gondola riders the idea that I was a ski instructor. They were visiting from Washington, D.C., and Nashville. Their first question was how I made a living in such an expensive town. I started chuckling, thinking to myself that ski instructors probably pull in twice as much as I do as a semi-employed journalist and front-desk greeter at the Aspen Athletic Club. But I went with it, saying that money isn’t the most important thing among locals – it’s the skiing and the community that enrich us. They looked at me with envy, saying this place was remarkable. Way better than Vail, they observed. It was their first visit to A-town, and they were floored at how beautiful it was and how uncrowded the mountain was. I told them it was “uncrowded by design.” I found their observation ironic since Ajax that day happened to be one of the busiest I had seen it all season, and my ski buddies later in the day complained how much they hated the mountain because there are always too many people on it. But I guess skiing Vail and Beaver Creek gives you an appreciated perspective when you vacation here.It was during my ride up with my new friends that I decided I’d go with the theme of ski instructor and resort ambassador for the day. I gave the couple an Aspen History 101 lesson, from the silver boom days to the Quiet Years to the Paepcke era. I threw in some variations to keep it interesting – the infamous massacre of the Ute Indians, the brief Amish settlement here and how the valley floor was once a reservoir where a gambling ship was docked. It’s not that our history isn’t interesting on its own, but I felt like making shit up. The couple hung onto every nugget of information I delivered. Most of it was true anyway. They asked me about the community’s most pressing issues, which of course was the standard Entrance to Aspen debate, the rising cost of living and the building moratorium.The gentleman from Nashville was dumbfounded that a government would put that kind of crippling restriction on a landowner. His female companion lamented about the loss of the Red Onion and wondered how such an atrocity could happen. I explained that the sad situation was simply a matter of economics. The new building owners raised the rent to market value because they paid market price, and the owner of the business was ready to retire anyway. Change happens, and we have to deal with it, I told her. Landowners since the beginning of time have always been the ones on top of the economic food chain, with this town being the epitome of that notion. I told them that the most important thing is that developers can rape the land all they want but they can’t take away the beauty, serenity and pleasure the mountains give us.I got off the gondola and realized how much fun I was having as an ambassador, so I continued on, giving people some context to work with and a “local perspective.” I spoke with visitors and locals on the chairlifts, at the Sundeck and during après about the town’s history, answering their burning questions and discussing their issues. One ride on the Ajax Express lift generated a discussion about the pending remodeling of Sardy Field. They wished they would expand it to let larger jets in. I let them in on how difficult that would be, given the community outcry when the idea surfaced in the mid 1990s.To the locals I spoke with, they couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the issues the politicians spend all of their time and energy doing nothing about. Theirs were more quality-of-life issues like why the In and Out House can’t get it together and stay open for business. One resident at the ABC wanted to know why certain jets have to be so loud. Another person wished someone would serve fish sticks in town.They are simple people with simple issues. Life ain’t all bad here. That much was clear on Sunday as people hooted and hollered down the shoulder of Bell Mountain, much like they did during the powder days of last week. The conditions on Sunday were perfect – not a cloud in the sky, 45 degrees, no wind and great snow. My day in the life of a ski instructor was “epic.” That was until I snapped my ski off loading onto the Ajax Express lift. I have to admit; it was not the most professional move on my part.I considered billing the Skico for my time but skiing right up to the lift in the ski school lane with my friends was payment enough. I guess I’ll break out the red Obermeyer jacket more often. It’s easy being an ambassador for a town I love, and the perks can’t be beat.Sack is looking forward to logging more hours on the mountain. E-mail her at csackariason@yahoo.com.


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