ULTIMATE RANT | Who Succeeds in Telluride?

By Allison Perry | Telluride

This latest rant is brought to us by Scott Fischer and I think TBC should name their next double IPA after him because this is one bitter tasting rant.

Fischer begins by letting us know this is “Not a rant, but just an observation.”

Hmm. This, and similar phrases used to preface rants and complaints (we’ve all heard “I’m not complaining, but…”) can be translated in the following way: “I’m about to do exactly what I say I’m not going to do, but because I’ve preemptively said I’m NOT doing something, no one can criticize me or call me out for engaging in said activity.”

Guess what, people? If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck…it’s probably a duck. Whether you’re “ranting”, “observing,” “interpretive online dancing,” “musing” or “just saying,” posting a lengthy negative string of sarcastic and disparaging remarks on a forum designed solely for ranting means YOU’RE RANTING.

Following his ineffectual disclaimer, Fischer continues, “Not sure if you ever noticed but it seems there are six types of individuals that succeed in Telluride…” and proceeds to list the six types.

In this socio-anthropological study on “who succeeds in Telluride” he includes “students…illegals…hippies/woodsies…trust-funders…kids who come to drink and play,” and “the ones with long lines of tradition.”

Fischer then proceeds to make grossly exaggerated and sweeping generalizations about each of the classes of people he labels, why they somehow have an easy time “succeeding” in Telluride, and concludes with the following:

“For the rest, middle class – some are fortunate to have landed a managerial position, obtained RE licenses and have done fairly well, or succeeded in other ways. But it’s a small percentage – the rest of us struggle with demeaning jobs that lead you no where fast – but that’s the price you pay for living in a ski resort town. You might be qualified for the position, but so and so owes someone a favor – and that job you thought you had – goes to someone’s kid, or a newbie in town that’s here just for the short term. I’m not sure if I can drop acid all day, run a food cart, and then open one of the most successful restaurants in town – true story. I’m not really bitching or ranting. It just sucks that if you have the goods to bring to the table, it doesn’t matter.”

I’m sorry. Are you, uh, kidding me? ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME?

Yes, it’s frustrating that getting a job here is, well, frustrating, especially so if you want to pursue anything that resembles a legitimate career. But if you have the goods, and you stick with it and make the compromises necessary, you can get a job. It took me over a year of juggling freelance writing and full time retail to get my dream job at The Watch, but the owners were the only bosses I’ve ever had who looked past my resume and gave me a chance because they saw and believed I had “the goods.”

In another city? Not a chance. Could I get a higher paying bullshit job to make a bit more money while wasting away trying to get the job I really wanted in a bigger city, hours and hours from everything else I love doing except drinking beer? You betcha.

So whose fault is it then, that it’s tough to make ends meet in Ski Town USA?

Well, according to Fischer, illegal aliens deserve some of the blame. Apparently these folks “can…get two full time jobs while speaking no English, no HS diploma, no training or skill, illegal and make $14/hr with no taxes. And get fed and trained.”

I’m so goddamn sick of people blaming the “illegals” for, well, really anything.

I have absolutely no idea how many illegal immigrants live in Telluride, but I can tell you one thing: I don’t assume anyone walking around town who doesn’t look like a member of the Aryan Nation is “an illegal”, and, more importantly, even if every single person from South America or Mexico was an “illegal” what exactly is the basis for assuming they are taking “our” jobs away?

As Deb Dion rightly comments, “Your comment about ‘illegals’ is offensive. I have yet to meet anyone who came here to work who is not educated, doesn’t pay taxes, and has no English language skills, and I’ve lived here for 20 years. Foreign workers contribute to Telluride and belong here as much as anyone else.”

I’d love to find out where Fischer, and others who have launched similar baseless complaints on Facebook, gets their statistics. How many illegal aliens are you friends with exactly? How are you so certain there are so many non-legal immigrants in Telluride any way? Is it, perhaps, because whenever you see someone washing a dish at a restaurant, who may or may not speak Spanish, you assume they have no right to be here?

Let’s go one step further and assume there are a notable amount of non-citizens living and working in Telluride, as many as people think there are. Are they really succeeding at the cost of everyone else who is “legitimately” here? Fisher says in a comment, “I think I used the wrong term – success – I should have used thrive…” but earlier states “…when was the last time you saw illegals dining out or filling up the car with gas…and yes they do get fed – ask anyone who works at a restaurant?”

So “thriving” (albeit not “succeeding”) means not being able to afford gas or dining out, and having to rely on restaurant jobs (which, I’m sorry, kind of suck) to get fed?

Doesn’t sound like “thriving” to me. It sounds like just getting by. And if we’re going to go along with all these stereotypes, I’m also assuming the “illegals” don’t have time to ski much since they are working all the jobs in town, thus aren’t exactly reaping the trade-off most of the people that live here depend on to justify their shitty and unfair jobs.

Also, whether taxes are paid or not, I’m guessing it is pretty hard to score health insurance if you’re trying to fly beneath the radar of the long arm of the law, and to have a vision of ever obtaining any kind of high paying career with security and longevity. This, in and of itself, is a pretty big sacrifice.

To be clear, I don’t subscribe to all the stereotypes about illegal immigrants because it is a subject I know next-to-nothing about. I do not know any illegal immigrants personally, I have no numbers in my possession about the proliferation of illegal immigrants in ski towns, or how that contingent affects the distribution of jobs and finances in a small town.

I do know the jobs “illegals” seem to get anywhere (again, based only on hearsay and very limited conversations with people who employ undocumented workers) is that I would not want those jobs because they are hard, thankless, and the hours are terrible.

Illegal aliens aren’t the only subject of Fisher’s grumpy-pants ranty-rant. Oh no.

Let’s talk about the goddamn hippie/woodsie contingent.

To be clear, I am not much of a hippie. When Bluegrass rolls into town I turn into a person much like Eric Cartman, rolling my eyes and muttering at all the bare-foot, patchwork halter top, dreadlocked masses, and I hide.

That said, when I moved to a SKI TOWN, in COLORADO, known for MUSIC FESTIVALS, POT SHOPS AND SKIING, I pretty much accepted whatever level of hippiedom I was going to be getting.

According to Fisher, however, the hippies and woodsies are not just guilty of fashion crimes and a sometimes overpowering patchouli stank. No no. Somehow in Telluride they are exalted and glorified, are aware of this special status, and flock here to take advantage of the town’s generosity by living for free and scoring jobs super easily.

If there is some hidden “hippie discount” at Clark’s, or preferential hiring at super awesome jobs in town please, someone let me know and I will be a bong-toting, Birkenstock wearing, hula-hooping Earth mama as quickly as you can say “tree.”

Woodsies may not pay rent, fine. But that’s because they LIVE OUTSIDE. There is absolutely no part of me that has even a slight desire to call a tent or a patch of dirt my home. I complain about the VCA and it has four walls, a roof and heat. If you have the fortitude to live in a tent, outside, and keep yourself clean and happy enough to hold a job and somehow still be content to go home to a house made by Marmot or The North Face, more power to you. I WISH I could do that for a few years because I’m broke as a joke, and I’d save a hell of a lot of money in rent.

Hmm. Who else is taking jobs away from the people who “really deserve” them in Telluride?

Oh! The TRUST FUNDERS! This might be my favorite. Perhaps Fisher hasn’t been out of Telluride enough, but those assholes are EVERYWHERE. By the logic of his rant, in fact, I can blame the fact I’m not a millionaire on trust funders because I went to a high school where everyone’s daddy had a billion dollars, and I watched some of the dumbest people I’ve ever met buy admission to schools like Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Stanford.

Were they all dumb? No. But when daddy donates millions to Harvard, pays $1,000/hr for his 13 or 14 year old kid to get a PRE-SAT tutor who guarantees a top percentile score for every client on the pre and real SATs, and utilizes his connections to get his kids’ talents noticed and fostered by famous and talented people all over the world, kids like me who were “regular middle class” didn’t stand a chance.

I suppose I could have worked harder in school too, and out-shone all those entitled Park Avenue princes and princesses, but school wasn’t really my thing.

Oh crap. Did I just admit I can’t blame the rich kids for the fact my net worth is under $3,000 right now? (Minus one zero probably.)

We live in America. Rich assholes are all over the place, with their rich asshole businesses, rich asshole kids, buying rich asshole cars, jobs, spouses, careers, planes, jewels, whatever. Sometimes the rich kids have dreadlocks, sometimes they don’t. Why on Earth would Telluride be any different?

Courtney Koepp’s remark might shed a little light on this theory that I don’t understand. “The majority of shops on Main Street are owned by ‘mommy and daddy’ but the owner in T-ride always likes to claim ‘I did it all on my own’. Hahaha.” While she might be right, I hate to say it, but welcome to EVERYWHERE. If my mommy and daddy weren’t in the medical profession and, instead owned a ski shop in Telluride, why would I not take advantage of that? Especially in this garbage can of an economy?

Welcome to the United States.

Same goes for people with family history in town, although the animosity for this group is substantially more watered down than the rest. Legacy usually equals money. Almost anywhere.

Finally, I can’t even address “kids who come to play and party” because, well, IT’S A SKI TOWN.

I’m not claiming it’s easy to make a living here. I gave up a lot to live here. And sometimes I want to cry, and scream and pack up my car and head to the booming metropolis of Denver to make money and become a weekend warrior. But I can’t. Because I have a window in my shitty apartment, and a ski pass, and I get to live in TELLURIDE.

We all knew what we signed up for when we moved here, and we all made a choice to suck it up and deal with the drawbacks because of what we gain when we even look out the window.

But let me allow someone far more well-spoken than I to drive the point home. As Daniel Zemke summed up, “There’s an element of truth in every post on here, save and except the illegals not paying taxes. That’s just BS. The truth is, it’s hard to make a go of it here economically, especially when the affordable housing supply is limited. Do I fault the Trustafarians and second homeowners? No, only because there are better ways to spend one’s time and energy. Just like a game of golf, play the course your way and don’t worry about the other guys. You either make it here or you don’t. And, there’s no shame in leaving – we have all thought about it at one time or another – but the trade-off is the amazing space we call home and our ability to enjoy everything it has to offer. I could make more money elsewhere, but when I want to be in the river fishing at 5 p.m. or on a killer bike ride, I do it. When I lived in the concrete jungle at the end of the day I was sitting in traffic for an hour wishing I was here.”

I certainly do my fair share of “it’s not fair” bitching when I’m in the mood (albeit not in a public forum), and to be fair to Fischer, I do understand where the frustration comes from. But if I ever get that bitter, I’ll know it’s time to return to the concrete jungle I crawled out of, where at least I won’t be dreaming of greener pastures while I sit on the subway on the way to the office.