It is a little silly the lengths to which I will go to avoid getting stuck in a pre-Christmas crowd.
The reality is that I don’t fear crowds. I just don’t happen to like what happens to certain people trapped in their hot parkas for too long, among dozens of other people trapped in their hot parkas for too long. It creates a bit of a pressure cooker effect that raises blood pressures and potentially spills over into an eruption of strong negative emotions.
When you add to the mix the ticking clock of Christmas approaching and stock flying off the shelf, it’s that wild card of not knowing when you might get caught in the crossfire of people whose attitude would get them a permanent placement (with glittering gold stars) on Santa’s naughty list, and a free gift card for anger management training.
Despite buying my first presents in August, making about a hundred lists and checking them twice, and stocking up on anything and everything that doesn’t go bad to reduce my number of store visits in December, there are still things that need to be bought at the last minute for the sake of freshness. I accept that.
But to minimize my exposure to people whose tempers need tempering requires strategy, problem-solving skills and a strong Internet connection. Not only does it demand shopping at off-peak times, but around here it also means dodging snowstorms, freezing rain and Ottawa Senators game night traffic.
To calculate the logistics of this early morning weekend run, it starts with a chart of the last minute items, the location of where I expect to find them, and Google searches to verify at what time each store opens.
I’ll then rearrange the order chronologically to try to be at each stop shortly after they open, to zip in and out before the crowds begin, and before the parking lots turn into inescapable mazes of vehicles parked in improvised spots. Continue reading
Over the years, I have had the great pleasure of attending many stand-up comedy shows. I have always been a firm believer that laughter is the best medicine and that a good dose of belly laughs can be a welcomed break from the seriousness of the world.
I have been most fortunate in being able to catch a few shows a year, whether they featured major icons of comedy or rising young stars who were able to successfully guide us into taking a step back and have a chuckle at the silliness that surrounds us.
I would even add to the mix certain musical artists who share so many funny stories between sets of music that you aren’t sure whether you saw stand-up comedy with a side order of music or music with a side order of stand-up comedy.
Either way, I am most grateful for the artists who have the knack for telling a funny story and made a few hundred or a few thousand people laugh. It’s an incredible talent and a joy to behold!
To me, the show that will always be remembered most fondly is a Just for Laughs Gala in Montreal hosted by the legendary Joan Rivers, a couple of years before her passing.
But over the years, I have had many eyeball rolling moments at audience members. I often ask myself if they’ve ever been to a comedy show as they seem to break every unwritten rule about attending a comedy show and in some cases, annoying the rest of the audience.
To help set the record straight, here are my suggestions of things you should NEVER do at a comedy show: Continue reading
“Could I help the next person in line?” the cashier yelled as she opened her checkout line.
I was the next person in line.
But before I had time to take my three small items off the conveyor belt, the two people behind me had scurried over to the new checkout line like rats running with a slice of pizza in a New York subway.
I had no opportunity to take my rightful place in the line of the new checkout.
Still, I stood there horrified. Compounded by the aggressiveness and determination with which the two people behind me jumped over, I wasn’t sure if I was witnessing a scene at a grocery store or a National Geographic special featuring lions closing in on their prey.
Back when I was a kid, that offence would have been worthy of a time-out and one or two weeks’ allowance. As well, it would have been compounded with a guilt trip started by a long glare with disappointed eyes and a suspiciously calm, “Didn’t I raise you better than that?”
I’ll never forget those times… wonderful childhood memories!
But also, important life lessons.
Yet, on a daily basis, the underlying “Me first, and screw everybody else” self-entitled attitude bewilders me. I see it on the roads, I see it in malls, I see it on vacation… I see it pretty much everywhere. Continue reading
I was at the movie theatre one night, on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, when Dame Judi Dench was in the middle of a long pause, about to utter with masterful precision the words that will earn her next Academy Award nomination… when I was suddenly blinded by a bright blue screen, from the idiot in front of me, checking her phone.
Needless to say, I was devastated to have been dragged out of the precious moment where I completely escaped my own life, to live vicariously through the characters of this cinematic masterpiece. I felt robbed.
I leaned over and whispered sternly, “That’s very distracting!” The idiot turned back and gave me a glare like she was the offended one.
Are you kidding me?
After she turned around, I offered her my look of scorn and severe disdain with one eyebrow raised and one lowered, accompanied by a middle-finger salute, a gesture I reserve for the rare few who crack through my calm exterior and get my blood instantly boiling. With that done, I was able to let it go and reconnect with the movie.
I don’t know why but lately, it seems that every visit to a theatre has at least one person checking their phone during the movie which is completely unfair to the rest of the movie patrons.
A movie theatre is a place where people go to escape from day-to-day reality. It’s a place to forget one’s troubles, to get inspired and to be taken away to a different world. Continue reading
With school back in session, so begins a new season of the commuting reality show “Backpack Head Whack”.
Does this ever happen to you?:
– You are on an elevator; the elevator gets to your floor; the doors open and before you have a chance to take a step out of the elevator cab, someone storms in, essentially blocking your path.
– Your bus or subway car is overflowing with passengers and approaching your stop. You get up and make your way through the crowd to the door. Near the door, a passenger wearing headphones does not respond to your polite “excuse me”, so you gently tap them on the shoulder to indicate you’d like to get through, only to be met with the “death stare”.
– On a sidewalk or an escalator you find yourself behind a group of people who are side-by-side-by-side, blocking the entire width of the path and leaving no way to get around them.
When I was a kid, I vividly recall the “village” that raised me (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and babysitters) said things like a gentle “tasse-toi” (step aside), “laisse le monsieur passer” (let the man go by) and sometimes a quickly articulated “Woosh woosh” which was a catch-all that would mean the same as above in addition to “Go!”, “Do it!” and “Hurry up!”
They all spent a fair bit of time trying to reinforce the concept of spatial contextual awareness since I was sometimes deep in my own imaginary world. However, I would like to think that through lessons like this, they did a good job in helping me grow up to be a polite and courteous member of society. But what has happened to contextual awareness?
Just a few days ago, Continue reading