Springtime: Love and impatience are in air
Sometimes it’s best not to follow your instincts. My instinct was to give the guy screaming at his crying daughter a tongue-lashing. My impulse was to tell him that screeching “Stop crying or I’ll really give you something to cry about,” was ineffective and stupid. My instinct was to tell him berating a child can traumatize them to the point of eating disorders, low self-esteem, or worse, voting Republican. I am pleased I did not follow my instincts.Instead, I said, “You guys look lost; can I help?”They appeared to be two families<two wives, two husbands, four kids and a couple of nannies/housekeepers/slaves who smiled but spoke no English. They were carrying skis, poles and bags of food, and one nanny was dragging a toboggan loaded with clothing.”We’re tired, our feet hurt, and we are lost.”Before I could respond, the angry guy added, “They told us we could ski to our chalet. Why can’t we find it?”The obvious answer was that they were walking down a sidewalk a quarter-mile from the nearest ski run, but I decided to not go there.Once everyone had a chance to vent, they calmed down. It turned out that though they were staying only a half-mile away, it would be a long process to get there either by skiing or public transportation. When I told them they said, “Don’t you tell us that.”I’m sure I’ve met less likable people, but I can’t recall when.Despite, or maybe because of that, I loaded half of them in my truck and promised to return for the rest. During both trips, I was treated more like a chauffeur than a savior and was only offered a cursory “thanks.” As I drove away, I was once again reminded how hard it is for some people to vacation, and there are few destinations as daunting as a ski resort.We ask a lot of our visitors. We take them out of the real world of low elevation, cars, escalators, familiar surroundings and deposit them in a cold and confusing environment, full of bulky clothing and uncomfortable boots. We scare them half to death by putting them on frozen water with planks on their feet. Then we shake our heads when they drive their rental cars on the wrong side of the road or go grocery shopping wearing ski boots.Though almost all of them are friendly and decent people, often they get painted with the same brush as those who are petulant and demanding. It is important to remember you don’t need to like them in order to show compassion.I love where I live. I like the fact that I can work hard for six months and take two off. I’m grateful that others find my home so appealing they will endure the environmental challenges and return year after year. I certainly don’t claim to be Mr. Congeniality, but I do pride myself in acknowledging the challenges guests face. After more than 20 years of resort living, nationwide, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is easier to be nice, even to jerks, than to judge them.Many think in order to improve the vacation experience we must provide better amenities<upscale homes, fewer stairs and faster chair lifts. To a degree, I agree. What I think we, and every resort, needs more of, is compassion. Not just butt-kissing, fawning, obsequious flattery.Rather, a human appreciation for what these people go through to come and spend their money. Unfortunately, there seems to be a finite amount of love available. The more who are packed into the community, the smaller their allotment. But whenever I think my love-well has run dry, if I dig deep and make the effort, it always feels better then following my instincts. So, when you next encounter an angry guest, remember it is easier to be nice, than to be related.Biff America can be seen on RSN television, heard on KOA and KYSL radio, and read in this and other fine newspapers.
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