Monday, December 8, 2008


Today was a typical busy Monday. Lots of meetings and photographic requests, as well as playful chatting and sarcasm with coworkers. One thing I can always count on at my job is that someone will say something during the day that will make me smile, crack up or just take me away from the stressful grind. Even more than doing something you love, I think that working with people you love is so important to a healthy life; they make even the most hectic days seem pleasant and fun.

That being said, I had a moment after work that made this Monday just so, so completely ridiculous.

After leaving work, I decided to trek over to Trader Joe's to buy some groceries (my personal storage of food at home has become completely barren after not having been home for dinner for several days in a row; AND, my coffee ran out this morning, which is just completely unacceptable, so this trip was necessary). So, I walked the few blocks over to TJs on 14th street to brave the crowds and grab some kind grub. When I arrived, though, I was surprised (and a bit depressed) to see there was already a line forming outside (very unusual for 6:15pm on a weekday). Now, I have never been one for lines (or the cold), but after conversing with myself about "the benefits of coffee" vs "being on my way home and warm", I decided to stand out in the cold and wait with the other few dozen New Yorkers for our sustenance. Its a funny situation one faces during these circumstances, in lines. You wait there, saying, "Only 5 more minutes, that's as long as I will stand here," yet as time passes, you don't move an inch and continue to wait. It's almost like a battle of wills with yourself, or to some extent you feel like you're being tested, pushed...battling this very Monday. "I've waited here for 15 minutes, so damn if I'm going home now." It's like you're battling the universe.

Needless to say, despite the existential battle of wills, when one stands for any extended period of time on 14th street, you see a variety of crazy sights. I saw a man walking in shorts and flip-flops in this 34 degree weather, a taxi almost run over a young woman who had a complete right-of-way, and an older woman walking about 8 dogs, pulling her every which way as she serenely continued on her path. The biggest of all incidents (and what promoted me to write this post) was an older man, probably in his 60s, who approach the front door of TJs and, after arguing extensively about how it was unfair for him to wait in the cold for 40 minutes to get into the store, attempt to literally push his way into the store past the young woman guarding the entrance.

I was not very shocked to see this site (hey, I live in NYC), but more disturbed about the nature of people, and how a simple LINE can bring about the worst in us. It's something to do with one thinking they have an inherent right over the next person (whomever is in front of them) that causes humans to crowd closer to the entrance, even when no one is moving, or to bum-rush the front door (as this man did) out of some kind of self righteousness. Why do we do it? What is it? Is it the feeling like we're being herded like animals into a store that is branded? Are we already annoyed at ourselves that we did not have the foresite to come at a more reasonable hour to purchase our groceries? Or is it more that here, in NYC, we sometimes go crazy from the rush? I feel that the later is very true, though it doesn't only happen here. Lines and "herding" occure across the world and do not do well for the human psyche. We don't want to be animals anymore; we are civilized humans...right?

Well, the security guard came out and literally made the man apologize to the young woman, who made her own strong point to the man by saying, "You have no right to touch me" before he walked away in a huff as if some injustice were just thrown upon him, cursing the woman and this "f-ing store". Is he right for being mad? Perhaps...

But in the same vein, we ourselves are only to be blamed for reducing ourselves to kind of animalistic behavior, willing to be herded to our food. F-it, I was in that line too, wasn't I?


James-Man said...

I've been in that line before. It's like hell on earth. I like your point that as much as we complain about it, we do it for ourselves. Consumerism, right? We are willing to stand in line and suffer physically (even mentally) to save some money. Let's try not to herd ourselves in the future, ok?

Lizzie said...

Thanks for commenting, James-Man. And yes, let's try not to herd in the future.