Registered Coloradoan

Seeing a pair of brick red topsiders in downtown Durango always spells trouble. Throw in carefully pressed Chinos, and it’s a certainty. It just so happened that the very combination, accompanied by a cornflower blue oxford, walked into my life a couple weeks ago. And it just so happened that Colorado’s newest resident (we’ll call him Mr. Ected for the sake of anonymity) was sporting the get up.

“Delighted to make your acquaintance,” the friend of a friend of a distant relation said as he warmly shook my hand.

Following a few pleasantries, the over-the-hill Mr. Ected explained that he’d recently retired from corporate America and now called Breckenridge home. Like many exchanges these days, ours quickly turned to politics.

“We’re at a real crossroads,” he said with an almost European lilt. “The decisions of the next six months will determine the course of the next 60 years.”

I could suddenly see beyond the Fila loafers and into a place where the sophisticate and I shared some turf. That détente crumbled, however, as soon he finished his statement. “If elected, Barack Obama’s inexperience will destroy not only America but the entire free world. We need a leader who will continue to fight for freedom and finish this War on Terror. That still needs to be our top priority, no matter the cost.”

I flinched, cleared my throat and then casually offered a new topic of conversation. Digging deep into the polite department, I asked how he liked his new community, a resort town I’ve somehow always missed on my forays into the Front Range. Mr. Ected replied with a giggle. “Oh, I don’t actually live in Breckenridge. My son does. When I’m not traveling I spend most of my year in the Caribbean.”

Adjusting his buttoned-down collar, he then added, “The truth is that I am a recently registered Colorado voter, but only because I need to vote in this historic election. Let’s just say, I’m borrowing his address.”

And so it was that my vote in the 2008 election vanished into the Old Spice tainted aira thanks to a man with too much money, too little time and a nasty addiction to the O’Reilly Factor.

Still stinging from the encounter, I paid a visit to one of Colorado’s original residents as a remedy. This friend of all my friends and nearly a relation (We’ll call her Ms. Judge for the sake of anonymity) came into the world in a Montrose Memorial Hospital of the late 1960s vintage. And like many of us, she’s spent the last four decades bending the American rulebook in order to make a living, raise a family and pedal, paddle or powder at least 150 days a year.

Maybe she’d just bumped into the Chinos but I caught her on a bad day. “Tired,” was the first word from Ms. Judge’s mouth. Two kids, two jobs, a vegetable garden and a Subaru in the shop all add up after a while. Sporting Carhartt canvas and a 5-gallon bucket filled with gardening tools, she was off to her second, $12/hour gig. And our conversation turned to politics, like so many these days.

“I’m about over it,” Ms. Judge informed me as she rattled a spade and weeding tool in the bucket. “It takes a 50-hour work week to make the mortgage, buy groceries and fill the tank. Twenty percent of my wages go to a bullshit war for oil. And if Washington has its way, my savings will be bailing out billionaires and their bad decisions.”

Sadly, Ms. Judge is typical of many friends of mine. Living in and owning a piece of their Colorado community comes at the ultimate price. One day we wake up at the brink of 40 with empty bank accounts, sorry-ass IRAs and way too many years left on our 30-year fixeds.

“But what about November 4? We’re at a real crossroads here,” I said through my slight Western Slope drawl.

“Good luck,” Ms. Judge giggled back at me. “I threw my vote away in the last two stolen elections ... Hell, I didn’t even bother re-registering after the move.”

Call me naïve, but I’m still riding on a little November hope. I still believe that first Tuesday could seal the casket on eight years of bad decisions, bad information and bad business. And now that my vote’s effectively neutral (thank you Mr. Ected), I’ve been pouring my energy into Ms. Judge, trying to get her a few minutes off, drive her ass down to the courthouse and help her file a change of address form prior to the Oct. 6 deadline.

And as for Mr. Ected and his ruby red slippers, I’m looking for a little help from the Fates. Given the current state of the union, a certain absentee ballot could lose its way en route to Antigua, where a perfectly-pressed pair of Chinos is anxiously waiting inside a teak beach chair.

– Will Sands



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows