Biff America: Lost cops and good vibes

“You must hate people like us.”

What kind of person did that lady think I was? More importantly what about her, and that hulk of a dude she was with, did she assume I’d hate? Was it the fact that they were cops, snowboarders or dressed in colors that would seduce a hummingbird?

Couldn’t she tell by my demeanor, dirty ski pants and trucker hat that I’m an open-minded ski bum who once wore day-glo colors and snowboarded back when you could buy one without having tattoos?

I was on a short, solo mission. My mate had jury duty for a trial of a grown man accused of skiing with a selfie stick. I was ski touring from a popular trailhead would be sneaking off into the woods toward a small glade where I hoped to make a few turns. The snow would be crusty, but after a recent health scare I was just glad to be alive and outside. The thought of my mate spending my 401(k) after my death with her new, younger, flexible, Canadian husband Pierre St. Lick reminds me that every day is a blessing.

It was about 50 yards from the trailhead when I ran into the two snowboarders — a guy and gal. They looked to be waiting for me.

Neither carried a pack. In contrast to their loud, more ski-area-suited outfits, each wore a black cap with “police” stenciled on the front. The guy was large enough to have his own zip code. He looked buff and about 225 pounds. The gal similarly looked fit, tough and able to easily handcuff me.

There were several Alpine resorts nearby. It was obvious that those two were more comfortable there. Without being asked, the lady told me they had no backcountry skills or gear and had rented snowshoes for climbing. She said she always wanted to try riding somewhere out of bounds and asked where I recommend that they go.

They were in the right place, as there was an easy, short snowfield near where we were standing. I pointed it out. They thanked me for the info and said they come yearly to Colorado to ride lifts and had always wanted to try something different.

The gal (answering a question I did not ask) added that back home she was his superior officer but they were a couple on vacation. She got a little too close, gave me a gentle elbow in the ribs, and added that — on the job or vacation — he never disobeys a direct order. My first thought was dating her might be as dangerous as joking about Will Smith’s wife.

I very tactfully told them, since they were unskilled and clueless, they should confine their snowboarding to that specific slope and not venture too far from the trailhead.

They assured me that they were well aware they were out of their element and were just going to do a couple laps on that slope and head back to their condo.

I wished them well and was about to head off when the gal looked at me like I was lunch meat and said, “You must hate people like us.”

I wasn’t sure what about them they assumed I might not like.

Should I say I have nothing against cops (especially when they’re out of their jurisdiction), that I know lots of strong women who could kick my butt, or that I also have many friends who snowboard?

My first inclination was to say simply “I love people like you.” But I worried that she might misinterpret my friendliness and invite me back to the condo. So to play it safe, I answered the question with a question and asked, “Why would I hate people like you?”

“Because we are tourists invading your territory.”

I had a response for that. I said, “There are two possible economies here in the mountains: mining or skiing. If it weren’t for tourists, I’d be working underground and, though saving money on sunscreen, I’m not built for that.”

Now, granted, there sometimes have been more guests than we can accommodate lately. But I added that most of us who call ourselves locals know that we would not be able to live in the mountains were it not for our guests.

I left them with, “Have fun, be safe and if you smell weed, don’t freak out. It’s legal in Colorado.”

As we headed off in separate directions I was reminded that we are all tourists somewhere, but only the fun ones travel with handcuffs.

Jeffrey "Biff" Bergeron

Jeffrey Bergeron’s column “Biff America” publishes Mondays in the Summit Daily News. Bergeron worked in TV and radio for more than 30 years, and his column can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He is the author of “Mind, Body, Soul.” Bergeron arrived in Breckenridge when there was plenty of parking and no stop lights. Contact him at

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