Tony Vagneur: Saddle Sore
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Back when the local paper cost 15 cents, I remember putting my money in the rack in front of the Times office, and before I could complete the transaction, a lady ambushed me from the side, grabbing a “free” paper without even an “excuse me.”
When I busted her, she replied, “When you’ve done as much for this town as I have, you deserve a free paper.” Her sense of entitlement still confounds me, but it apparently made sense to her.
Speaking of papers, a recent story indicated that there was a big flap earlier in the year up around Radar Road in Skyline Park (formerly the Droste property) about some people ignoring closed signs to take a preseason gander at the flora and fauna.
Apparently, one of those receiving a ticket for violating the closure was some developer who felt a certain sense of entitlement about his egregiousness, based on the proximity of his house to the area and some real or imagined beneficence he’d granted to Pitkin County Open Space and Trails in its acquisition of the property. Never mind that his exercise of a perceived sense of privilege might have caused a cow elk to abort her calf or created other havoc in the local herd. To top it off, no sooner had an official trail ranger engaged the developer in a conversation about the seriousness of the transgression, the image of a mountain biker appeared from the closed area, adding insult to the entire illiterate escapade.
You can rest assured that no contingent of aggrieved elk, distressed that their once-private calving grounds are now being disrespected by people who should know better, will petition the powers that be for relief. That must come from those among us who sometimes fail to acknowledge personal responsibility.
Coming off Triangle Peak Road on Sunday were three motorized dirt bikers who had to muscle their bikes under the closure gate to get back to their vehicles. The “closed” signs (and the locked gate) obviously were meant for other people, not them, and never mind that illegal dirt-bike activity in the Sloane’s Peak-Kobey Park area already has drastically modified the elk migration and calving routes. But hey, we live here and are entitled to enjoy the public lands as we see fit, regardless of the rules, eh?
It happens all the time – someone saying in reference to ignorant behavior such as I outlined above, “It’s OK – I live here,” or, “Yeah, I’ve been doing that for umpteen years.” Trust me: Rich or poor, we already know you’re a local because no tourist could be that stupid. Most interesting, perhaps, is that the louder the perpetrator whines, the more entitled he or she usually feels.
Last winter, while on my rounds with Skico, a person left his car parked in the loading-unloading only area in front of The Little Nell hotel. As a courtesy, I offered that he might find his car booted if he left it there. In the midst of calling everyone within earshot foul names, he loudly exclaimed that he’d lived here X number of years, and besides, the car belonged to his girlfriend, so “go ahead and boot it.” Nice guy – throw your girlfriend under the bus while loudly proclaiming your own exaggerated sense of self-importance.
“Yes, but these are isolated incidents,” you say. Maybe, but they are getting more and more frequent and keep in mind that for every person caught being thick-headed, there are many more who don’t get noticed or nabbed. And we haven’t even touched on dog feces left alongside the trails.
Conversation, under the guise of education, doesn’t work, but writing tickets or booting cars does seem to get a reaction; the bite makes the lesson memorable. As Pogo, the comic strip character once said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
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