Sean Beckwith: Bowing at the altar of al-tourism
January 9, 2019
Usually when the tourists roll out of town this time of year, I use this platform to lambast them in an effort to do what a lot hospitality workers want to do but can't. I work part-time at a front desk that doesn't see nearly the volume or type of customer who puts so many waiters, valets, managers, bus drivers and other workers on tilt. You know that stuff you say under your breath when you walk back to the office or kitchen after yet another ridiculous request? That's what I like to air here.
However, last year I caught some heat (and compliments) for my New Year's week exit interview ("When the Aspen tourists wear out their welcome," The Aspen Times, Jan. 3, 2018). One gentleman even went as far as to call for my job. No, I'm not going to call anybody a "sick, self-absorbed pet peeve in human flesh," again — mostly because I can't top that without non-printable curse words, but alas.
Like my dad and his golf game, I'm going to try to a kinder, gentler approach. And, like my dad and his golf game, I can't guarantee that's going to work. For the sake of the local bowing at the altar of al-tourism — and my job — let's see if I can get through 18 without chucking a club across the fairway.
Let's start with stargazing. I saw that the Kardashians and Kanye West were in town, so let's not start with celebrities.
One of the main things I'm welcoming with the departure of our money-providing overlords is the lack of middle-of-the-streets selfies and other traffic-halting pictures. I understand people are literally overflowing out of everywhere — the ski slopes, hotels, buses, City Market — but that doesn't make it OK to hold up bus routes to ensure your picture of the walking mall is perfectly framed. Please, walk the extra 40 feet and off Mill Street. Your pic is only going on Instagram, aka the same social media outlet I once used to share a photo of bloody dress pants.
But you don't care, do you? Those 50 likes are more important than the honest, hardworking people of this town. Well let me tell you something — wait, stop, take a deep breath, Sean. Don't get fired.
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Just because I look like a local, dress like a local and am standing at the bus stop holding enough TP for 2019 doesn't mean you get to treat me like Siri. Yes, I know where Clark's is, but walking up to me and yelling "Clark's!" isn't going to prompt me to ask the appropriate follow-up question, which is, "Which Clark's?"
Before you curse Ben Welch for sending you to the grocery store instead of the oyster bar, think about asking nicely because your barbarity caused him to say whatever got you out of his face the quickest. Your unwillingness to show basic human compassion toward any object less than $1,200 is gross, and Ben is worth much more than that.
Speaking of being a cognizant, self-aware human being, let's talk where you should and shouldn't stop on a ski run. In my quest for the elusive 100-day pin while also working doubles on the weekends, I am "forced" to brave the mountains every opportunity I get.
I say "forced" because it's kind of ludicrous taking displeasure in an activity as fun as snowboarding, but bro, do the crowds try. If you need to stop to wait for a slower friend or the other 20 people in your group, please pick a visible spot to the side of the run. Congregating in the middle of a run, right below a roller is going to get you sprayed at least and collided with at worst.
Another note on skiing amid crowds: Acknowledge your ability and the ability of your friends. It's admittedly hysterical to watch Ski Butler-clad visitors slide, shimmy, fall and roll down Aspen Mountain, though, they should probably be at Buttermilk or Snowmass. If I'm riding out of bounds by trying to keep your friend from bleeding out on Spar Gulch — and you from laughing at him — I apologize. The thing is, you're not helping my buddy get over his fear of Ajax because last time he skied here another beginner from out of town blindsided him on Buckhorn.
I acknowledge the importance of tourists to this city, for they provide our bounty. A majority of year-round residents rely on peak seasons to pay bills and make/save money. There are people who can overlook common decency for dollars, and that's fine. (Although there is something to be said for positively reinforcing negative behavior.) I'm not saying lose your s— like we've all dreamed about, either.
Select your battles wisely and let those who write a column air your frustrations, vindicate that fake inflection at reception and, most importantly, take the heat for kindly and gently telling that specific sect of tourists, "Thank you, glad you enjoyed your stay, safe travels. I'll see you when I see you."
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times and a front desk agent in Snowmass. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.