crowd rage.

Let it go! Let it go! (my mantra yesterday)
Miss M, C, and I went to a Fall Festival yesterday. We like parades and face painting and all that. I go for the people watching, of course. This festival was in metro Atlanta, which just doesn't have the same great characters that, say, downtown Atlanta has; the people out in the sticks are pretty washed down. I'm not judging; I'm one of these washed-down-looking characters--I am nondescript, boringly normal-looking and acting, and I like to blend. Blur. Something--basically, I don't like to be the center of attention. 

But I like to watch people who don't mind a little being watched! And that's why I love stuff like this. 

But I have a slight issue at big, crowded places: crowd rage. My friend Patresa Hartman came up with this term awhile ago, and I am now sharing it with you. Crowd rage. It's when you're in tight spaces with a ton of different people, and the vast majority of the people seem pretty oblivious to the fact that you exist, to the fact that anyone besides them exists, that this is their world and they are the stars and we're all just the extras standing around to make them look good. This enrages me. 

Which is so weird, because (a) I'm a pacifist--I don't like fights or war, (b) I avoid conflict at all costs, and (b) I love my fellow human beings with all my heart. But when I am in a situation where I can't move, and you are clogging up the pathway to my freedom and clearly, you could move and change this but you're in your own little world and we're all just standing here on the edges of that world waiting to serve you? Oh my god. I could punch you. I really have an intense itch to haul off and punch a person. 

It's the only time I feel violence--out in public, in clogged up situations, surrounded by people who are oblivious to others' existence and plight. That's crowd rage.

I'm telling you all of this because I had a lot of crowd rage yesterday. A lot. A lot. It was drizzly and wet, and there wasn't a lot of space to move.

Also, when other people have crowd rage and I can tell they have crowd rage, it just intensifies mine and now we're all enraged at each other, but silently, and in really unhealthy and passive aggressive ways. I wonder if this is how terrorism starts? I bet this is how terrorism starts.

Example1: yesterday, M and I were trying to get on the Tilt-a-Whirl ride. You have to be so tall to ride by yourself, which she's not and wouldn't ride alone anyway, so I bought 6 tickets and got in line with her. We waited, patiently, and then it was our turn to ride. But right before us was a family of kids all riding together. Except when they got to the platform to get on, it was discovered two of the kids were too short to ride without an adult and the man wouldn't let them on. So I had to stand there and listen to their mom, who didn't have any tickets or an armband and had no desire to ride any rides, scream at and just generally be nasty to the ride worker (who was very calm and obviously used to being screamed at by entitled moms) about how she'd bought an expensive arm band for them to ride any of the rides and it hadn't been a problem on that ride over there or that one over there, just let them on! just let them on! She'd talk to someone about him if he didn't let her children ride! She'd make sure he didn't have a job within the hour if he didn't let those kids on this ride!

And I could feel my crowd rage surging, deep from within my depths. Because here's the thing: we're all being forced to wait because this mom is an idiot. You can clearly see there are sticks with heights to all the rides and they can't let certain height people on by themselves, or on at all, and that's for safety reasons. And the reason your two kids got on that ride over there and that one over there was probably because they met the height requirements. And stop trying to skirt the rules. And stop acting like you own this carnival because who are you? Bring enough money for your own arm band to avoid situations like this. Or think ahead and don't put your kids on rides they aren't tall enough for. Either way, stop screaming at this poor man who's just there to press some buttons. That's his job. He didn't make the rules, but he could get fired for not enforcing them and your kid could die. I highly doubt he's going to get fired because he wouldn't obey YOU. So move on.

I muttered all of that to myself as she kept screaming. And I felt embarrassed for her children, who were clearly trying to sink into the platform and disappear. I'm sure a lot of lessons were learned that day in their little hearts, lesson 1 being: Mommy's nuts. 

Crowd rage.

Example 2: standing in line to get a chicken gyro. It's hard, at these festival things, to figure out where the line ends, and if this even is a line. So you queue up, praying you're in the right spot, stand for about 30 minutes and find out you were in line for the corn dogs. So I'm standing in line, hoping I got into the right one, and a lady who'd been in the corn dog line in front of me earlier sidled up next to me to ask if this was the gyro line. 

I'd been watching her, earlier, people watching her--trying to figure her out. She looked like someone who smokes a lot of pot and drops acid frequently, but doesn't want anyone to know that, so she dresses like she and her family just love the outdoors and she's shops monthly at LL Bean. Now, she's trying to steal MY spot in the gyro line. What!? And so I told her, yes, I thought this was the gyro line, but I wasn't completely sure. She then proceeds to scream, across the food truck area to her husband (or whoever he was), in my ear that she was getting a gyro. 

It was the closest I've come all year to hauling off and attacking another human being. Aggravated assault, I think the police would have called it. And she did cut in front of me, and I did understand--for that brief moment in time--why some of my strong-willed 2nd graders occasionally get into physical kerfuffles with the others while walking in line. I plan on telling them that I get them now, and that if I can stop myself from kicking someone's shins repeatedly, so can they. It's totally doable. Hard! But doable. 

Crowd rage.

The thing about crowds is this: I'm an introvert. I'm not really a shy, can't-talk-to-strangers introvert. I mean, I don't go up to strangers and just talk to them or anything. But if we're in a situation and a stranger talks to ME, I'm entirely pleasant and can carry on a nice conversation about the weather if I have to (I hate having conversations about the weather though--let's just talk religion, sex, or politics--those are much more fun). 

I'm just an introvert, someone who's completely fine being alone and quiet, going to movies alone, reading a book for hours, not talking, etc. But I love getting out and about in the world and being social. I heart parties, I heart a good party a lot. But afterwards, I find myself depleted and exhausted and I kind of need some alone time. It's nothing personal, I just need to decompress from people.

So normally, I'd spend today decompressing. But later today, I'm going to the theatre (please say that in a fancy accent) with some beloved friends to celebrate a one of my favorite human being's birthday. We are eating out a place that serves absinthe drinks. I have never had a drink with absinthe in it before, but I plan on trying one because I will need more effort to control my crowd rage, which was at an all-time high by the time we went home yesterday. I was all love love love when we went to the festival, and by the time I walked in the door I was grumpy girl Sartre. There was an ecard I saw once that said something like "I may look calm but inside my head I've punched you three times." That was me yesterday when I got home. I had plans to grocery shop and get some grading done, but I needed to decompress. 

I'm hoping theater patrons are less oblivious and the absinthe helps. (I don't know what absinthe tastes like--I may end up just drinking a lot of margaritas instead. Margaritas make me much friendlier.)

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