A LOCAL LAMENT:
Sacrifice defines a local’s existence. Although all ski towns demand a certain flexibility of its residents, the Bikram Yoga required by Jackson contorts the local’s life beyond most. The theme trickles down the community’s ranks and into every facet.
Living at the Hostel X my first month in town revealed this trend to me early on. The boot-brown building stands conspicuously amidst the polished hotels and restaurants of contemporary Teton Village. A ski bum haven of sorts, the hostel offers affordable lodging for the young penny-pinching winter enthusiast. Beyond a place to lay my head, the hostel provided a natural habitat to observe a breed of the Jackson local.
The hostel’s young workforce wore genuine, living-the-dream smiles. Their every conversation dripped with stoke. Acquainting myself with these folks over the weeks of my stay, I found their circumstances to be a lesson in sacrifice.
Highly educated, these college graduates postponed promising careers to clean bed sheets. They shared stuffy rooms, earned modest wages, and survived on diets of pasta and PBR. They did all this for the sake of one overriding pursuit: to ride hard.
I soon discovered that this trend of professional humility holds true for much of Jackson’s workforce: ex-corporate juggernauts manage restaurants, Five Star chefs flip burgers, high school educators teach preschool. The case is not that these professions are less admirable. The humility lies in the motivation behind doing them. Most take up employment for the turns they allow, not the careers they garner.
Jackson’s locals are inspired and motivated, but afforded little fodder to actualize their professional agendas. With Jackson’s economy sustained primarily by seasonal tourism, conventional careers are scarce. Few venture to this obscure American niche seeking nine-to-five employment. The locals are more inclined towards monitoring rising inches of snow over falling figures of Wall Street stock. Which is how it should be…