Service with a smile
If insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results, then I am going crazy.
I’m not crazy like Ophelia; I’m not up on my botanical names, I more subscribe to the Juliet method and call all flowers “roses” – for by any other name, they do smell just as sweet. Like Ophelia, the suicidal sweetheart of Hamlet, my boyfriend is furiously indecisive, so we have that in common.
 I’m not Tell Tale Heart-crazy, not even The Bell Jar-crazy, though throwing my laundry off my balcony instead of folding it seems like a great idea, until I realize I’m out of underwear. Also my oven is electric, unlike Miss Plath’s. I am approaching Caulfield-crazy, and I’m always looking for cool hats. But this penchant for headwear and cussing and calling people phonies isn’t the only sign of my descending madness.
But, swapping one melancholic Salinger hero for another, perhaps I can relate most to Franny, the young woman who is struggling against conformity, criticism, phonies and ego.
I have been working in the service industry for three years with the assumption that when it comes time for my next step, I won’t have to worry about which direction to take. I’ll just know. Well, I’m still waiting for the obvious anvil to hit me over the head, and I’m hoping that the words “Law School” aren’t written on it (sorry, Dad). I continue to wait, but nothing different is happening. Thus, I’m going crazy.
But the last few years have provided me with an education that I could not gain in school, and it is this: I have learned how to respond politely to very rude people. (I am not always able to do so, however, because my self-control is still catching up with my self-respect).
Enter: Phonies and Ego. People, in general, take themselves too seriously. This is less true of Durangotangs in part, I believe, because we develop personal relationships with each other (your local breakfast server or beer pourer, for instance). But many people talk down to waiters and bartenders and sales people and make generalizations about intelligence based upon a person’s profession. (To combat this assumption, I tend to make allusions to classic literature to make myself seem smart). If we need proof that financial success does not engender brilliance, I would like to direct your attention to the current Republican presidential and vice presidential candidates.
In conflict with the Ego that I confront on a daily basis, the little things – the “Hey, yous” and more rude methods of communication such as snapping one’s fingers, waving and pointing, especially when I’m engaged in a conversation with other customers – I have made an effort not to be a phony.
I realize that this is a direct contradiction to my job description of customer service, and I try to remedy my gut reaction — which manifests itself in the form of a death-stare before I can fake a smile. But I abhor phonies, and I neither want to “make it” nor “fake it” if it means compromising or letting people belittle me. Obviously my conflict with ego is born of my own pride.
And I feel like I’m going crazy from the constant battle between that pride and common sense and tip money. I wanted to bartend and wait tables to avoid conformity, so that I wouldn’t end up in a cubicle in Denver at a job that isn’t challenging or lucrative but that requires the 9-to-5 slog every day of the week. Now I find that I’m stuck in a rut and feel uneasy and ungrateful for not appreciating what I do have: the awesome La Plata and San Juan mountains out my back door and the time to appreciate them. If I can’t appreciate this wonderful place, then I am truly insane.
I have begun to behave irrationally, getting angry at strangers for ordinary things, like incorrectly correcting me about breweries in Durango. Ignorance isn’t deserving of anger, but it does provoke it, especially when I’ve had too many cups of coffee in an effort to feel congenial.
When it comes to tragedy, aren’t all those heroes – Ophelia, Sylvia Plath’s alter ego, Holden Caulfield and Franny – aren’t they all struggling against stagnation? After Hamlet’s rejection, Ophelia is stuck with no options, Holden has been expelled and is struggling against societal pressures to mature, Plath felt there were no options for an intelligent woman (but in the ’50s, there weren’t), and my beloved Franny was stuck with her annoying boyfriend (not a reflection on you, honey).
I am stuck in Durango, going a little crazy and hoping for a good snow year. But I try to console myself with the thought that the crazy don’t know they’re insane. Maybe that’s my saving grace. Maybe, it’s not that I’m going crazy, maybe it’s everyone else.
– Maggie Casey

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