Happy Independence Day everyone in America. Always remember our freedom was not free. When I was young, fireworks were legal (at least in Illinois) and we generally spent the weekend lighting up our Black Cats, Roman candles, rockets and all kinds of colorful fountains. Today, of course, the legal sterilization of anything fun (spearheaded by insurance company lobbyists and over protective soccer moms I’m sure) has reduced the youth of today to looking on with gloom as carbon snakes smolder on the pavement and displays of mock enjoyment at throwing pieces of tissue paper on the ground to produce a sound slightly lower than a cap. Those realizing just how inane that is usually whisk their kids into the car and head down to the local traffic jam they call a community fireworks display. Linda and I try to make the best of it by hauling our camera equipment out and experimenting with slow shutter speeds. Each year we encounter the same annoying types of people at these events and figured I would highlight them in hopes of stopping some of these trends – probably not going to happen, but at least I get to spend a post making fun of rude people.
The late arriver:
I have to put this at the top of my annoyance list because it breaks a common code of respect for other people who probably have no other course of action beyond just accepting the fact they have been victimized or doing something about it and likely spending July 5th in jail. In blame of politicians who vote sterilization rules into law, community firework displays have evolved into big events drawing in lots of people from the surrounding areas. Smart people are aware that is necessary to sacrifice a part of the day (length of time dependent on the investment in the the fireworks and distance to competing communities with their own show) to get situated in their favorite viewing spots. Due to their disposable time, they are granted the privilege of selecting their choice spot. I should point at this time, that I think it should be required that at least one of the party is in their chair for the duration of the reservation. Running down early and throwing your chair in a spot and then hightailing it back to the air conditioner is a violation of the reservation integrity and should be subjected to having their seats moved to the back of the viewing area or into the water should you happen to be on the waterfront – by definition this means that seat reserving is generally only for parties of two or more since bathroom breaks could result in you having to dive in for your chair. It is a good assumption that all the best viewing spots will be taken under an 1.5 hours before the show starts by individuals who have been sitting in their chair for hours possibly drinking lots of alcohol to help pass the monotony of having people ask them if the surrounding empty chairs can be hurled into the water. Eventually the local radio announcer will get on the microphone to inform you of the one thing those in their seats ALREADY KNOW having looked at your watch every minute up to the moment he tells you the fireworks are going to start in 10 minutes. In truth, this appears to be a signal to all the later arrivers to rush to the front of the walkway, fence, water’s edge (or whatever the natural barrier is between you and the gunpowder) and stand there. I find this happen more in the larger city arenas (witnessed firsthand at Peoria’s riverfront a number of years ago), but lately it has been happening at the small community shows as well – take for instance last night at a local party down the street where all the hip college kids decided a blind person picked out their party spot and felt entitled to haul their coolers in front of the people who applied a little intelligence to their seating selection. To be honest, those kids didn’t have a dramatic impact on the viewing since we were pretty close to where they were shooting them off. Now the Peoria incident was a different story thanks to the launch angle of the fireworks and the difference in the levels of those standing and those sitting. I kept my camera trained on some elderly couples up front waiting for something to come out of the arguments that were triggered. Well, argument may be a strong word since that implies both sides engaged in a heated discussion where in this case the late arrivers simply ignored them and concentrated on the fireworks display they now had a perfect view of. I think the only option in this case is to extend the chair rule to include throwing these idiots into the water as well… which brings us full circle to the July 5th comment.
Hit the jump to see a description of other annoying people encountered at celebrations of our Independence.