Why I hate crowds (and Central Market)

May 1, 2006 at 1:40 am (Culture)

Let me start by saying that I'm not afraid of crowds. There is no fear involved. The issue is that I despise them. They are full of people who care nothing about their surroundings. They stop and linger and group into smaller crowds that do the same, all the while blocking the path for those of us who actually want to achieve pedal progression.

This isn't a recent epiphany. In fact, it's been a developing hatred over the years. However, last weekend I treated myself to a double-dose of crowds: one Saturday and another on Sunday.

On Saturday I drove out to Fort Worth to peruse the wares offered at the Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival. As this is one of the top Arts festivals in the nation, I figured braving the crowds was worth it. And, though I managed to spend roughly $200 on some awesome handmade items [this necklace, a vase similar to this one, and another vase by the same artist] it took a lot of perseverance to wend and weave my way through the people eating their turkey legs and kettle corn, 'steering' their strollers (loosely termed), and stopping dead in their tracks for no apparent reason what-so-ever. Note that I didn't say it took patience. No, there was little to no patience involved. In fact it took all I had to not take out a few kids under 5 feet of height as they clipped my new flip-flops and stopped dead in front of me to do – again – nothing.

Sunday I decided to make my annual pilgrimage to the local Central Market. Note that I said annual. Somehow, though I find myself leaving the store with a headache, I get the urge to return again – but only about once a year.

As I drove away that Sunday I decided to think a bit more deeply about why I hate Central Market. Ultimately I decided that the concept doesn’t succeed – in suburbia – the way I imagine it should. I like the concept that it’s more like shopping in an urban market where you can see the fishmonger tossing the tuna while you hand-pick overpriced produce. However, suburbia and this experience simply cannot coexist. Why? Crowds. Crowds of people such as the following:

  • People with 5 young children in tow, each with their own cart
  • After church goers on Sundays
  • Foodie trend followers
  • Coffee-klatschers

The issue: In suburbia grocery shopping is a family event, especially on Sundays after church as people are trying to follow Emeril's latest trendy recipe as they catch up on their gossip over coffee. Shove all of this into a trendy over-sized maze of a food market and you have a crowd of people who stop dead in their tracks to do apparently – all together now – nothing.

Toss into the mixture the layout of the store and you have these crowds mingling in a never-ending ess-curve of a maze. Simply entering the store is a challenge in and of itself because it’s where the produce section starts and everyone decides to park their cute little double-decker carts at the first item stand.

In a nutshell, last weekend tried my patience with crowds. Two days in a row I subjected myself to environments that aggravate me to the point of headaches. Undoubtedly these won’t be the last times I find myself willingly participating in similar situations simply because the world is only getting more crowded and the things I want to see are surrounded by crowds. If only there was a way to discreetly carry an air horn so I could plow an open path ahead of me. That’s all I want, really – people to just get the hell outta my way so I can enjoy myself – without a headache.

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