You get what you complain for |

You get what you complain for

Alison Berkley

I have never been one to complain.I know that may come as a surprise, but my mom always took care of that so I didn’t have to. I would hide under the table while she yelled at waiters/hotel employees/salespeople, saying subtle things like, “This is unacceptable” or “Take it back” or “I want a full refund” (most often, a combination of all three). Needless to say, she always got what she asked for. My brother’s like that, too. When he was only 11 years old, he went to the counter at McDonald’s and complained that his fries were too stale. They gave him a free Happy Meal and of course he got the Stars Wars figure that I wanted, the R2-D2. I always got C-3P0 and or Chewbacca. Lame! Of course I was traumatized. That’s why I don’t like to complain. I’ll suffer through meals that are too salty, eat things I didn’t order, lie awake at night in a hotel room with a broken radiator, keep that item of clothing I just bought with the hole in it, and so on. Until last week.For the first time in my life, I complained. My brand-new pink leather bag was stolen out of my (albeit unlocked) car with my computer, wallet and notebook in it. Oh yeah, and my book was on the hard drive of my computer. (Don’t worry. The theft happened in Steamboat.) I got mad because the cop didn’t feel sorry for me. I was upset when the dude at the front desk at the gym sort of shrugged like he was super stoned or something when I asked him why they don’t have surveillance cameras in the parking lot where my bag was stolen. He just kind of went, “Bummer, dude,” and handed me a phone book so I could call the police. I was annoyed when all my parents’ friends said, “She didn’t lock her car? What did she expect?” And I got really pissed when Mr. Robber Man didn’t return my stuff when he realized how very important it was.So I wrote this really nasty letter to the editor of the Steamboat Today. Oh yeah, I was mad at them, too. I called the news hot line and suggested they run a story about the theft, like ASAP. It took them two whole days to call me back and tell me that I had to pay for a “lost” classified ad, but the “found” section is free. Goody!My mom would be proud because boy oh boy, I got what I asked for.My letter was published on Wednesday, Dec. 1, and it went something like this:”My stuff was stolen, yadda-yadda, I’m super bummed, blah blah. I’m a muy importante columnist Princess from Aspen. Hello, don’t you know who I am? Etc., etc.” Here’s the clincher: “Thanks for making Steamboat the kind of town where you need a car alarm. I can’t wait to get back to Aspen.”My letter was published on the same day as the article on theft that ran with the headline: “Lock your cars, police say.” So then this Steamboat Today columnist named Summer or Fall something-or-other decides to devote her entire column to me, me, me. Here’s the abridged version:Alison Berkley, Hunter S. Thompson should kick your (expletive deleted). Now that you’re back in Aspen, he is in better swinging range, and you seem like the kind of person he would like to flick off his porch with a shotgun full of rock salt.When Berkley left Steamboat this week, she drove away giving us the bird. When the computer and wallet were stolen, she was amazed. This is sweet little Steamboat. People don’t give in to base human impulses such as stealing an unguarded computer in a town such as this.She fired off an e-mail to the newspaper to let us know that the readers of her weekly column – “The Princess’ Palate” – would be hearing about her tragedy.She likely would assure her readers that their Prada bottoms were safe in Aspen, but beware of going north to the crime-riddled ghetto of Steamboat Springs – the Compton of Colorado.Berkley writes in a gum-smacking style, using words such as “whatever” and “duh” as complete sentences. This is the kind of girl who can’t complete a paragraph without insulting the way someone looks or admitting she’s done something stupid like opening her taxi cab door into Manhattan traffic or, for example, leaving her computer and wallet on the seat of an unlocked car in Steamboat. As I read her columns and rolled my eyes, I had two realizations. One, this girl thrives on negative attention. Two, either she really is as mean and clueless as she appears in her column or she has mastered the art of writing by creating a completely alternate persona in which to dump all kinds of lewd, obnoxious and offensive material.Whichever is the case, she had me hooked. I was reading. I was reacting.By all intents and purposes, Berkley should have captured my sympathy (instead of my animosity) when she lost her computer. It makes me sad to admit that this town may be changing for the worse. There’s something about not locking your door. It makes you feel safe. It makes you love the community whose members watch out for one another. When you steal something from someone, you steal a certain sense of place from the entire community. I’ll keep my eyes open for a hoodie-wearing adolescent with bad body odor to start publishing crappy chick lit, and I’ll know who stole Berkley’s computer.I thought the thing about Hunter S. and the shotgun full of rock salt was pretty funny. At least if he tried to shoot me, I would know I got his attention.If you would like to give a big, Prada-bottomed Aspen shout out to Autumn Phillips, the columnist who wrote this article, you can e-mail her at Princess’ column appears in The Aspen Times every Thursday. E-mail her at