January 26, 2009

Asshole Tax

Warning! Rich assholes are secretly over charged when they behave badly in the ritzy town of Aspen, Colorado if they upset the locals. 

For a couple of weeks mid winter and again mid summer, Aspen overflows with visitors who come to play on the slopes, in the rivers. Maybe they stay in one of the high priced hotels or perhaps own a home of their own, mansions that lie fallow for most of every year. Little Aspen airport is rumored to host the largest fleet of privately owned flying machines when the rich come to town. ?The rich? are easy to spot in their shiny Hummers and huge fur coats. Men sport costly watches and dyed hair, women?s hands hang heavy with diamonds the size of buffalos. Most of these people are perfectly well behaved innocent tourists.

Also occupying the Victorian mining town are the locals. Whether they were reared there or whether they relocated from lesser geographic locations, they tend to have one thing in common, and that is that they work for a living. They are in the service industry, and they serve the rich.

Twice a year the two groups collide, each dependent on the other for their well being and yet the gulf between them is bridged only by tips and phony smiles. The Aspen service industry is easily mistaken for a servile population because they wear the costumes of servants: hair dressers, fishing guides, shop girls and cashiers. Unlike the ?devoted? servant of old, this group exacts revenge regularly when crossed. It is a common, though quiet, practice to charge their customers something known locally as the ?asshole tax?.

Everyone already knows better than to offend a chef or kitchen staff. George Orwell covered this in detail in ?Down and Out in Paris and London?.  Stories of adulterated food are well documented. But have you heard the rumors in Aspen?

For example:
?Jake?, a hair stylist, says, ?most of my customers are cool, but now and then I get a windbag who makes me want to stab her with my scissors. If they are out-of-towners and I know I?m not going to see them again I might leave the bleach on a little too long. Then their hair will break off when they get home. Usually I just charge them a little extra. Could be as little as fifty bucks, but I have been inspired to add $100, even $150.?  Infractions range from serial rescheduling, being late, tipping badly or agravating him with showy displays, ?why does she have to tell me about her five homes?? ?Jake? complains, ?does making me feel like my life is worthless make her feel like a success??

?Dean?, a fishing guide, says that he gets along well with most everyone, but now and again he?ll be hired by someone ?obnoxious?, someone who ?needs several helpings of humble pie?. But ?Dean? cannot overtly risk his job so he resorts to sabotage and might not stick worms onto the hooks of his clients fishing poles, or he might steer them towards areas of the river famously fish-free.
Some establishments hang clear signs near their checkout counters asking patrons not to use cell phones when paying. Why? Because, says ?Becca? ?It?s friggin? rude?.  Should a shopper ignore the request and yip and bark into their device, the asshole tax is applied. This ?tax? does not show up on a bill or invoice but is instead stealthily slid into the total.

At no point will the customer be clued in to the idea that his/her bad behavior is being anything but worshipped. You have been warned!

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