Marolt: The Viceroy acting like a jerk
I had a vision of a Viceroy limo. We were on Main Street, near the Hickory House. It was rush hour. Most drivers seemed patient, pleased with the accumulating snow causing the slowdown. I saw all of this from the driver’s seat of my own car. A dream? A nightmare? No, a joke played out on the streets of Aspen. The unaware victim was a five-story hotel nine miles away along with its villagers on the other side of the moat.
I love that dramatic buildup. Here’s what actually happened. We’ve all seen it dozens of times. It was the usual weekday rush to get out of town after work. The only people surprised by it are first-time tourists. Things are moving like 5 o’clock work.
Enter the Viceroy limo. The driver of that vehicle was in the right lane, and he was hanging tight to the bumper in front of him. He was hanging so tight, in fact, that his brake lights blinked as if they were short-circuiting. There was no way he was going to let any vehicle from that left lane merge into his lane without a dent. It was ridiculous.
I was smiling, and so was the guy in the lane next to me. It turned out to be a guy I have known for years. They were knowing smiles that stretched across our jaws all the way back to about Y2K. That’s about the time Aspen’s traffic started to become pretty serious at that point in the street. Nobody had it figured out. Two wide lanes of road turn into a single narrow one just in time to snake through the edge of town across an obsolete bridge to flow into a state-of-the-art roundabout and then back into two lanes again.
It’s a design that happened by chance and lack of planning that is claimed to have a calming effect by people who never drive through it at busy times of the day, and that’s neither here nor there — just allow an extra 15 minutes if you happen to be going either place. Anyway, back then there were lots of en-road-raged drivers in the left lane trying to box-out equally out-of-their-mind drivers in the right lane. It was like a living metaphor for legislation moving through Congress.
The good news is that commuters figured it out. Of all things, it turns out that a little patience and courtesy goes that short way more quickly than anything else — except a RFTA bus in the designated mass-transit lane. And that brings me back to the Viceroy limo. The driver of that vehicle was neither patient nor courteous. Here’s the thing, though: We’ve all been there. I’ve been that snarling ass boxing out cars in the left lane. It only took a few times to learn that the stress caused by being such a jerk wasn’t worth gaining a one-car lead on the race out of town. And I’m confident that the driver of that Viceroy limo will learn the same lesson if he already hasn’t. I think we can all agree to forgive and forget.
Unfortunately, some things are forgiven more easily than forgotten. The reality is that my traffic indiscretions are done pretty much anonymously. The limo driver’s are done with the name of Snowmass Village’s flagship hotel plastered all over it. Notice I did not say this was “fair” — I only said that it was “reality,” and this is true.
What else is true is that nobody who saw that limo ludicrously boxing out cars on Main Street has a more favorable impression of the Viceroy hotel. Big deal; too bad for the Viceroy, right? Well, sort of, but I don’t think this story ends there. Since the get-go of Base Village became the get-going-already Base Village, the Viceroy has been crowned the king of Snowmass Village. Love it or hate it, it is iconic. That comes with being a centrally located seven-story mammoth of a building where once there was an open view of the mountain. They can’t help it, and neither can we.
So, if only the Viceroy left its reputation in the hands of rogue limo drivers, I wouldn’t have a huge problem with discourtesies done in their name. When it comes to them and their inordinate over-representation of our town, though, I start to feel a little heartburn. The reputation they are building now really can ruin the one we’ve built over the past five decades. They need to do us better than that.
Roger Marolt doesn’t care how rude the drivers of St. Regis limos from Highlands Base Village are. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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