Quandary: Gapers, Frangers and manners
Quandary, the old and wise mountain goat, has been around Summit County for ages, and has the answers to all questions about life, love and laws in the High Country. Have a question for Quandary? Email your queries about Summit and the High Country to Quandary@summitdaily.com.
In the past week I’ve been called a gaper and a Franger. What do these mean and why all the hostility?
My apologies, Dave, I just get so heated sometimes, and you were the closest target. I’m only joking, of course. Old Quandary doesn’t believe in name-calling — it doesn’t solve anything and no one really feels better at the end of the day.
When I was a kid, my dear old nanny goat used to say, “The nice thing about manners is you get to use them every day.” As infuriating as that saying was for a kid just trying to butt his way into the world, it does have its merits. Let’s be honest here, were you just walking down a city sidewalk when a cabin-fever crazed mountain man jumped out of the bushes and started calling you names? I doubt it.
This isn’t my first rodeo and I can generally pin down when each of these terms gets hurled at an unsuspecting visitor. You see, much like manners, understanding can go a long way in this world. I’m not trying to make excuses for any ill-mannered people who you might run across, but at this point in the year the locals are a wee bit on edge and may even have started sympathizing with the Grinch. The Whos down in Whoville aren’t at issue, but rather the Whos who come up the hill. We’ve had an emotional year here in Summit going from a November when snow seemed like a scarce resource that may never darken our doorsteps again to December and now January when shoveling has become our most reliable form of exercise.
In a snow-dependent economy these booms and busts can get a little stressful, and when you go from having no one in your town to being overrun, sometimes things get a little more heated than they should. In the spirit of the good Martin Luther King Jr., I too have a dream that one day Frangers — Front Rangers — and local yokels alike will ski arm in arm, so lets see if we can start healing the Continental Divide and take a look at some places where manners on either side of the equation could spare everyone some emotional distress.
I’m guessing on the slopes is where you first encountered the term gaper. Were you skiing in blue jeans or possibly on a run that was beyond the reach of your abilities? Or perhaps you fell in a manner so devastating and awe-inspiring that you drew the attention of a large crowd, even small children.
This not-so-nice term is most often directed at people on the slopes who are so far out of their element that they are a danger to themselves and others. In order to avoid being the subject of these barbs, make sure you know what you’re doing before you try to tackle the black diamonds.
There is no shame in asking for help, or at least there shouldn’t be. It can get intimidating when you get to the slopes only to realize there are people out there who do this every day and have no time or patience for anything less than perfection. Don’t let ego or intimidation back you into a corner or down a run though. Check in with the local shops before you head for the hill and they will be happy to get you set up with the right equipment and apparel to make sure you enjoy the day.
Lessons can be your friend, too. No matter what type of lesson you’re looking for, there is a resort in Summit that can help you out. From kiddos and adults who have never strapped in to experts looking to check out park features, there are plenty of different lessons to match your abilities.
The most important thing I can stress here is safety though. The wrong gear, the wrong terrain and the wrong attitude can get you or someone else hurt, so don’t worry so much about what you’re called as what you do. In case you haven’t hit the slopes before, know that the downhill skier or rider always has right-of-way, meaning you need to be courteous and aware of the people around you. This is not just an issue for those new to the slopes though, it seems often times it’s the people with a high ability level that try to pass when they shouldn’t. Courtesy can solve this dilemma, too. If you are someone who is always on the slopes, maybe try to be a little more understanding with the poor newbies who can’t quite tell their pizza slices from their french fries just yet. After all, a day on the slopes is about just having fun; it doesn’t have to be a race or a competition.
One more basic point of etiquette: Yes, it is gorgeous here, but that doesn’t warrant stopping in the middle of a run to snap selfies. However, if the urge to Instagram is just too over-powering, be smart about where you do stop. If you stop some place where you can’t see what’s going on above you, realize they probably can’t see you either so the chances of getting taken out are pretty real. The lodges all have fantastic views though, and hot cocoa, so maybe save the selfie stick for the bottom of the hill. On the other side, if you are someone who could probably call the slopes your second home, maybe offer to take a photo for a visitor or let them know where they can see some great views. You know, extend the olive branch.
Once you are off the slopes there are still a million places where you might find yourself butting heads with those around you that are in a different frame of mind. Whether it’s parking problems, freeway follies, the grocery store gauntlet or just a simple meander down Main Street, we can all use to be a little more considerate of each other. Some people here are on vacation while others are trying to get through the daily grind. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, just try to keep an open mind and consider how your actions might affect the people around you. Then won’t all our nanny goats be so proud of us?
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