Yesterday it was very hot. Those with small ecological footprints (the unairconditioned) could be seen outside of their hot boxes, muttering mad-talk on the streets, their brains made mush by the micro-inferno’s of sidewalks with no trees. So I went to the beach — on the Island, as Hanlan’s is the best beach in the city, and as was reported yesterday, only one of two that are swimable at the moment due to our friend E-coli.
Every other cottageless person had the same idea. The line for the ferry was long, which is fine. Lots of people, finite number of boats, I expect a bit of slowness. However, the lines were chaos — people darting in and out, impossible to see which wicket each line went to. I was on the outside line, so there was this constant mass of people moving up the side, on the right, somehow becoming part of the line up ahead. This went on for over 45 minutes, watching how these people cut the line (there is little else to do in a long line but study the cheaters). Other people noticed, and the line was getting angry.
The problem with cheaters is that while they opt into a life of stress and constant scheming for very small gains — where the effort of the scheme seems to be much greater than the reward — in situations like this line other people are brought into this situation and forced to react, feeling the same (or more) stress, without the reward. Luckily, a couple of big shirtless dudes used their bikes to create a barricade when we got close to the wicket so no new cheaters could get in. They also confronted some of the cheaters — watching them react is weird. Some don’t make eye contact, others laugh sheepishly, then retreat. Others look straight ahead and stand their ground. I think they count on people being too polite to say anything. I’m glad these guys were there and into the conflict — but it was making me feel queasy inside. It might have been the heat, or that I spent the morning watching CNN’s Lebanon v. Israel coverage, but human conflict to get to the beach was depressing. My confrontation was much more passive-aggressive — taking their picture and posting on the internet. This man to the right in the white mesh tank-top entered the line ahead of me after I had waited 30 minutes already. He used his cellphone as prop — talk into the phone, people won’t call me out on cheating. Mesh shirts are offensive enough but can be forgiven, but not when coupled with cheating.
This muscle guy above with the Dior glasses was the most blatant cheater as he brought a pack of loud kissy friends with him. He stood outside of the line and watched how it worked for 5 minutes, then moved up to the chaos at the front and cut, his friends in tow. Apart from his glasses (a shame, Dior wasted on the immoral) he had a conspicuous Celtic looking iron cross tattoo on one arm. I hoped he’d be on the same boat over as me, but his cutting put him one or two boats ahead. Happily, Toronto is not as big and anonymous as people think, and he was on the same boat back as me. Does anybody know this man? Do not date this man, hire him or ask him for directions. He is a public cheater. The Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio had these signs everywhere that read, “Line jumping is cause for immediate removal from the park”. Line jumping here should be cause for removal from the city.
The parks department could solve all this by installing those temporary steel riot fences, to make line-jumping harder, and keep the chaos of such long lines down. It might help if they didn’t put the “ticket holder” quick entrance in the middle of the other lines, which made even more chaos as people had to cross the lines to get to the empty aisle.
It’s certainly easy to play arm-chair manager, but why do so many simple solutions seem to escape so many city departments? On hot days it leads a person to wonder if they really care.