Sunday, February 14 was a big day for me. The first weekend of Vancouver 2010 was open and my posse was ready to rock and roll.
Off we went down to North False Creek to check out Sochi House (where there be Russians), Maison du Quebec, Saskatchewan House and to generally gawk at the thousands of red and white-clad Canadian zealots as they plied there way from exhibition to exhibition.
I’d already had a taste of the community the previous Friday night as I frantically wove my way through throngs of tourists and locals clogging Robson Street. I felt like blood trying to work my way through the clogged arteries of a fat man – desperate to make Vancouver’s infamous (and now famous) RAV line into Tsawwassen (a suburb in the Lower Mainland) where we decided to hunker down and watch the opening ceremonies (for a different take on that evening take a look at co-editor John Horn’s video from ground zero).
JOHN: Hi Kurt. Just thought I’d chime in here and offer a bit of a running commentary – some binary opposition, if you will. I know you’re not a fan of crowds, but there was a special electricity in downtown Vancouver on Friday night. My question to you is this: why do you hate Canada?
It was neat – Canadian nationalism I hadn’t seen since my stint in Ottawa. But the crowds were also a bit daunting. So many people, with so few places to visit, eat, and relieve themselves means big line ups – for more on this check out Frances Bula’s recent blog post on the issue.
Unfortunately, disappointment was soon to follow. That Sunday, as the sun poured down (surprisingly), we decided to check out Maison du Quebec. After waiting in line for over half an hour, we discovered our line wasn’t for a pavilion but an empty stage and a small jammed cafeteria.
“At least we can get poutine,” I thought. Except turns out poutine is only served on Tuesdays. Who knew it was such a specialty?
JOHN: Couldn’t agree more with you here. Poutine is one of the best things about la belle province. Tuesdays only?! That’s ridiculous! Maison du Quebec should be shoveling such a delicious concoction into every single visitor’s gullet, whether they want it or not!
What about some great Quebec brew? It turned out they was going for $10. Last I checked, I was sitting in a giant tent-box (without a roof – paradox? yes I thought so too) meant to promote the Quebekers, not Le Crocodile, one of the city’s most pricey eateries.
After that unimpressive experience, we hoped Sochi House (which occupies most of Science World, including of course, the gift shop) would be better. I wish I could tell you that Sochi made a better impression, but truth be told, we never made it in. The line was so long we guessed we’d be waiting around for an hour.
JOHN: An interesting reflection, Kurt. Mark Bauerlein and Neil Howe would colour themselves victorious after reading your post, as they write and speak about Millennials’ – or Generation Y’s – need for instant gratification and personalization; and they totally go negative on the issue, like a Republican ad campaign. On behalf of VANOC, I apologize for the Olympics not being better suited to your needs. At this point, we have two choices: first, we can convince them to create a personalized Olympic schedule for you (and perhaps all the other Millennials out there) so as to avoid pesky, popular lineups; second, I can provide some cool activities for you and your fellow line-uppers to take on while you wait – such activities include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Waiting in lineups is a great place to meet people – especially during the Olympics! So, rather than twitblogging and/or sexting on your B-berry, have a real conversation with a real person from a real country far, far away.
- Introspection and reflection are important. Kill some time in a lineup by thinking about your 101 Life Goals or areas in which you can improve. If this fails, think about kittens.
- Offer constructive feedback to the lineup’s organizer(s) – people love constructive feedback.
- Take action and start a riot hug people who aren’t having as much fun as you are; after all, hugs build community!
- Take an entirely self-deprecating approach from the School of Tyler Durden and accept that you are not special and do not deserve to have an expedient trip to the front of a line. You are not a unique snowflake, Kurt – we are all part of the same, unmoving, decaying lineup. Best to accept it now…
Later, I considered visiting the Olympic torch. But I soon learned unless I was a ten foot tall Goliath, I’d have trouble peaking over the wall because someone figured security could be enhanced by wrapping VANOC signage around the chain link fence set up 10 meters away to make it extra tricky for the common people to catch a glimpse of the flame without peering through the CTV looking glass. (EDITORS NOTE: Since writing of this article, VANOC – at the behest of Mayor Gregor Robertson – has lowered the fence ringing the torch – three cheers for small victories…) It seemed sort of silly all in all. Here was the symbol of the Olympics obscured for goodness knows what reason.
But then perhaps I should be grateful for the barrier. At least there’s no line to see the torch.
JOHN: No arguments here. Chain link fences suck. The easier, more practical solution to the torch-security problem is to hire ninjas to protect it.