I’m not one for crowds.
On occasion, I’ll put up with crowds, like when my mom and I spent New Year’s Eve in Brussels and we stood, packed like sardines, watching the fireworks super close up, or when I did a 5K walk for breast cancer research with thousands of other people. But for the most part, I do what I can to avoid crowds. If I have to go to a mall (ugh!), I’ll go when I know it’s going to be quiet. If I go to a concert, I’d prefer to sit (I had my fill of mosh pits as a teen). And so on. Crowds make me feel claustrophobic and angry; I either start to hate everyone around me, or I start to panic. Or both.
But on November 5, 2009, I experienced a crowd like no other.
It was Guy Fawkes Day and I was in Glasgow. A few of my classmates and I met up and made the trek down to Glasgow Green for the fireworks and festivities.
As we were walking over, it was busy, yes, but not overwhelmingly so. There were small groups of friends ahead of us and behind us. Nothing crazy.
The same goes for when the fireworks were actually happening. The Green was crowded, but there were lots of pockets of open space. My friends and I watched the fireworks, played with the sparklers we had brought along, and took lots of photos without anyone being in our way. It was a lot of fun to be a part of such a large celebration.
Then it ended and we had to walk back. That was when it got overwhelming.
Honestly, it felt like every person in Glasgow was walking along with us. We were squished between people, basically being herded along by the momentum. All of the streets were so full of people that you couldn’t see the asphalt, and there were cars stopped everywhere, encircled by the crowds. They honked, to no avail, of course. Every once in a while, you would hear or see a firecracker go off, or a couple people would run by, pushing through the hordes. There was yelling, singing, drunken arguing, and the occasional scream.
And there I was, caught in the middle, wondering how long it would be until I had some breathing room. Feeling like I was stuck in some sort of apocalyptic disaster. Worrying about pickpockets. And fire crackers. And getting run over by an angry, stuck vehicle with a driver who could, at any moment, decide enough is enough.
At that point, I learned something about myself.
Something very, very important.
If zombies ever happen, I would be more comfortable in a 28 Days Later situation:
than in a World War Z type situation:
(Filmed in Glasgow, BTW.)
I’m a loner. I’ll wander by myself until I find a small, hopefully sane, group of people to restart the world with. Better than getting trampled by crazy panicking people.
Unless the whole zombie apocalypse thing happens like Shaun of the Dead. Then I’ll take that.
P.S. A zombie apocalypse would also be one of only a few reasons I could see myself choosing to spend a significant amount of time in a mall. Hmm.