Sean Beckwith: Maintaining your mind during peak season | AspenTimes.com

Sean Beckwith: Maintaining your mind during peak season

It’s time to put away those credit cards, get out your work clothes and dust off that fake smile because we’re officially approaching busy season. Whether your checking account balance needs resuscitation, your kidney needs a reprieve or you need to get away from your out-of-work roommates, it’s time to bow at the altar of incoming tourists.

For many, including myself, on-season is about working two jobs, making as much money as possible and getting in enough extracurricular activities to avoid losing it. And by losing it, I mean not leaving the alarm guy an expletive-laden voicemail that gets replayed for your bosses, or calling a visitor a “sick, self-absorbed pet peeve in human flesh” in a column that people take too seriously. (To be fair, I received an equal amount of love/hate for my “When the Aspen tourists wear out their welcome” piece from Jan. 3 aka hell week.)

In order to avoid getting another column held due to negativity and help out hospitality workers bordering on mental breakdowns, I’m going to outline a few tips to weather the rose all day (or until we blackout) crowd, deal with the “Are we on the right bus?” bros and handle other irksome demographics.

At times it may seem as though people are intentionally trying to goad you into snapping but, from my experience, spending hours and sometimes days cooped up with your immediate family can be exhausting. I try to empathize with the impatient dad, the indecisive mom or the impossible-to-please children.

We’ve all witnessed hangry fathers seemingly perplexed by the concept of a 20-minute wait, the mother whose attempt to please everyone ends in futility and microwaved hot dogs, or holy terrors on the tail end of five-hour sugar benders sullying the good name of Nerds and Sour Patch Kids. I’m not saying terrible people should get a pass, I’m just saying maybe take a closer look before deeming them a bunch of asshats.

If they are indeed asshats, my strategy is to deal with them as fast and as pleasantly as possible without them catching onto the fact that if they snap their fingers at me one more time I’m going to jab breadsticks into their beady, little eyes. If that doesn’t work, I’m grabbing a person above my pay grade to calmly, kindly and authoritatively let them know they should invest in some self-discipline and therapy before forcing hospitality workers to instruct on them how to behave in public.

Another tip besides patience and empathy is to stay active. It’s easy during the winter because you can hop on the gondola at any time, send out that “Getting on the bucket now” group text and be lapping runs with friends in 20 minutes. Organizing group outings during the summer is harder because there are 15 different possibilities for outdoor activities.

I have a standing Wednesday/Thursday disc golf invitation with four or five buddies that culminates with frosty mugs of Modelo and Taqueria Nopal. I try to play actual golf with my dad every week or so. I also just bought an inflatable kayak to expand my outdoor options.

I understand this isn’t “Rocket Power,” or that you may not get my reference to a 15-year-old cartoon about extreme-sports-crazed friends, but we still live in a place where you are ostracized for staying inside. If your pre-nightshift ritual is catching up on “Desus and Mero,” smoking weed and avoiding sunlight, you should have a creeping feeling of guilt.

Take advantage of your surroundings — like Batman but without killing Liam Neeson. If your first exposure to dry, 80 degree weather is during your commute to work past several sun-drenched patios, you’re going to show up in a bad mood. However, if you stroll into the office freshly sunburnt and smelling like sunscreen it’s hard to get annoyed when a patron asks for your pick between sirloin and salmon then opts for a burger and proceeds to complain about it being undercooked. (“Sir, there’s a difference between well done and charred to tastelessness, neither of which I recommend.”)

If none of these Woosah tactics work and you still feel the urge to impale yourself or a tourist with the nearest sharp object, self medicate (joking) or take a couple of days off. Once a winter, I schedule a weekend off and, ideally, friends come out to ski. A mid-week weekend will suffice for the most part, but it’s thoroughly enjoyable to pretend to be a high-paying visitor over an event-filled weekend.

There are obvious conflicts of financial interests when you step away from busy Friday/Saturday night shifts, but it’s a mood-saving necessity. You will feel better because you’re not a demoralized, cynical sourpuss, and your coworkers will feel better because they no longer have to work with a demoralized, cynical sourpuss.

Like Gerard Butler in “300,” it’s time to plant that back foot and brace yourself for an army of over-dressed, gold jewelry-clad elites to trying to take your soul. Try to stay sane and welcome to the grind.

Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at sbeckwith@aspentimes.com.


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