Roger Marolt: My great-grandfather was a miner, so where’s my medal? | AspenTimes.com
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Roger Marolt: My great-grandfather was a miner, so where’s my medal?

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt for the Snowmass Sun
Kelsey Brunner/Snowmass Sun

There are two personality types that drive me crazy.

The first is the stubborn idiot; the second is the stubborn intellectual. Both are wrong most of the time and neither surrenders a false assertion even when completely surrounded by facts. The idiot at least has an excuse. The educated bore is more annoying for the lack of one.

I call this phenomenon EIS: Education Induced Stupidity. It occurs when people become so enamored with their own education that they actually get dumber because a piece of paper has proved to them there is nothing they don’t already know and nobody can tell them anything new.

I don’t have to give examples of this. Everyone has experienced many. How does the old joke go — how do you know if somebody went to Stanford? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. Of course, EIS is only applicable to a very small number of arrogant academics, but it is enough to make it remarkable.

I know it is important to state things like this when you are young and trying to get a foot in the door. At that point in your life, your education might be the only thing, possibly the biggest thing and most certainly the most expensive thing, you have accomplished in your life. But after you’ve held a job or two, explored a little, been in a community play, posted an eyebrow-raising time in a 10K, had children, learned a craft, become a steward of something bigger than you, spent a week or more in the wilderness, and are older than 30 (OK maybe 35), then you have become so much more. What you have done should speak for itself and if you are content with that, it doesn’t even have to speak very loudly.

This type of thing goes beyond academics. Years ago when the U.S. Ski Team was perennially struggling in competition with almost all European countries, most of which are around half the size of Colorado, the organization was having a difficult time figuring out why. While skiing is not a major sport in the U.S., we have more then three times as many skiers and around 10% more ski areas here than they do in Austria. We should have been able to at least give them a scare on the slopes, but they were crushing us.

One of the coaches had a theory: he claimed our team was made up of “jacket racers.” Somehow, the team had morphed into a culture where once many of our racers made the team and got their official jackets with the U.S. Ski Team logo and sponsor patches on them, they were satisfied. Once that credential was all zipped up, the athletes were content. They became physically lazy and pretty much lost motivation to attain anything beyond the uniform.

I bring this up because we currently find lots of new people moving to our town. You can feel the tension this is generating. Newcomers want to assimilate and blend in with the long time residents. Locals feel they are superior humans because tourists have been reinforcing this notion for years. Even among the recent arrivals, there is posturing and maneuvering, everyone seeming to want to set themselves apart on the inside of that group. Apparently you are a higher level of new arrival if you have been taking spring breaks here since middle school or have been spending Christmases with your grandfather since he bought a little place in the west end in 1974. You can barely imagine how spectacularly the commodity price of being an authentic local is rising in this market.

What I’m getting at is that the “local” label is about as valuable as an acceptance letter to an Ivy League school or a U.S. Ski Team jacket. It is super exciting the day you get it, but in and of itself it doesn’t mean much in the long haul.

Look, I understand why people want to gain “local” status here, what with all the benefits inuring to those attaining that title (although I can’t think of any at the moment). But, what is important to keep in mind is that starting conversations by letting people know how long you have lived here is as tedious as telling them where you went to college or wearing your old ski team jacket to a summer picnic. To those who would incorporate any of this into an assimilation plan, I would say relax and start letting your actions speak.

Roger Marolt likes it when people tell him he’s special because his great-grandfather moved here in 1890. Honestly, he had nothing to do with it. Email him at roger@maroltllp.com.


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