Despite my husband’s insistence that my membership to the “I Hate Crowds and Lines” Club developed with age (like a degenerative syndrome), I am convinced it is part of my DNA, transfused with my father’s blood when I was a baby. My dad wouldn’t be caught dead at an amusement park on a Saturday. Instead, he’d take us out of school on a Tuesday at the crack of dawn. It’s not that he forced us to avoid the [over-]crowded world, we just experienced it on his terms (and times).
I suspect our Soviet Union immigration was partially responsible for my crowd/line avoidance. My parents (and theirs) spent half of their waking lives standing in line for necessities. It’s no surprise a generation later and an ocean away I sneer at roller coaster lines; I am seeking some kind of retribution because my parents waited two hours for toilet paper. I try to save my time to overcompensate for them losing theirs.
Waiting in line makes me feel like I’m running out of time. How can I waste life’s most precious commodity standing in line? I feel time dripping into puddles at my feet.
My family fled the former Soviet Union’s communistic regime, antisemitism, and propaganda and instead settled into a routine of devouring American commercials. In essence, my parents traded in one version of brainwashing for another and instead of waiting in line for needs, now they waited in line for wants. America is the land of the choices and yet we all flock to one (or two). Will it be Disney Land or Disney World? Coke or Pepsi?
In 1998 I went on a backpacking trip through Europe where we visited Lisbon to explore the World Expo. My lasting memories are lines, lines, lines. Because I was on a vacation with no deadlines, responsibilities or obligations, I agreed to wait the unexpected two hours to experience a five-minute virtual reality ride. 18 years later, I am still seething for the loss of those two hours.
My husband, in direct contraction to my father and I, feels no loud ticking in his ear; he does not have a hole in his pocket where the time mysteriously seeps out at warp speed. He says crowds and lines won’t deter him from where he wants to go or experience.
I’ve always avoided clubs and bars where lines were a mandatory precursor to entry. I indubitably pick a less crowded beach over a popular one. The idea of Costco on a Saturday leaves me yearning for a beer/Xanax combo. It’s a fruitless exercise of time wasting. Why waste two hours to do something when it can easily be done in one at another time?
I love concerts and music festivals, but feel safer and more content in a seated venue. If general admission is the only option and it’s a band I really want to see, I’ll still go, giving myself an imaginary pat on the back. While there, I make sure to steer clear of the mosh pit because I’m a magnet to falling objects and even though I am light enough to crowd surf I have never wanted to join the “Felt up by a Stranger” Club.
At my happiest, I am on a deserted beach (on a Tuesday, just in case).