Oh, how we celebrate

As anybody in any aspect of the service industry knows, it’s Memorial Day Weekend. Among service personnel, Memorial Day is generally viewed as the start of summer, the first busy weekend, a way to test the mettle and strength of your crew to see if they are fit for the busy summer months. Some might also view it as a living hell, because generally that’s what it is. People come in hordes, and they are demanding, needy, and rude, in general. Of course, the tips are sometimes decent, and it is nice to see business picking up. It’s just unfortunate that so many people feel the driving need to go somewhere all at once, and then be rude about it. Some sort of air of entitlement seems to be bundled with tourism, which brings us to…

Locals. If you are local to any area frequently infested by tourists, you know the Memorial Day Weekend as the day the dam breaks, and the tide of stupidity starts. You’ve probably planned your weekend well enough that you are going to the grocery store Friday morning, in order to stock up and avoid the crowds, and it’s a good weekend for working on the garden, painting the spare room, or going to visit friends somewhere far away. You certainly wouldn’t want to go into town, and you warn all your friends to remember the perils of going through the gauntlet. Especially if you’ve been living somewhere you entire life, it’s an excellent time to make grumpy comments about how the tourist industry is destroying this place, why the tourists can’t just be shot, and so forth. If you’re unfortunate enough to be in service (as most locals in tourism oriented towns are, because there is no real industry, and you are expected to survive an inflated cost of living at minimum wage), you get to deal first hand with the people destroying your home, and it fills your mouth with a bitter taste as you nod and smile.

If you’re law enforcement personnel, you view it as yet another opportunity for people to be stupid. You increase patrols, you might put in a drunk driving checkpoint, and you try to stay alert, because when there’s any sort of holiday, people drink to celebrate it. The roads are impacted, and thanks to drinking the overall crime rate goes up, making it a fun and excellent weekend for all. You can usually count on a goodly number of speeding tickets and other traffic infractions as well, because people apparently forget how to drive when off their home turf. (Locals, as well, manifest some irregular driving, but to some extent you can forgive them–they must not have planned ahead and have therefore been trapped in the gauntlet, and the look of despair is enough punishment.)

For those still in school, it’s the beginning of the end, the three day weekend the indicates the school year is almost over, work is essentially done, and the summer lies ahead, golden and tempting. It’s a weekend to go to the river, although strangely everyone else seems to have the same idea. It’s also a great time to make fun of your friends who work in the service industry.

For most of America, it appears to be an excuse to go somewhere else where a whole lot of other people are also going. It’s an excuse to get drunk and be stupid, infest the streets of sleepy small towns, and generally make a nuisance. Some barbecuing might be going on, an expedition to the big movie coming out (and there’s always one), and one might argue that it’s a fine time to have a good time, depending on the definition of good time. Alas, this lowest common denominator of society appears to be growing ever large.

For an even smaller sector of America, it’s an opportunity to think on those who lost their lives for this country in every war from the Revolution to the Second Gulf War. I think that whether or not you agree with the causes for wars, the fact that people die, and have died, in them is rather unfortunate, and worth a moment of thought. Why not contemplate the actual holiday we are supposed to be celebrating, and ask yourself about the necessity for war. I’m not sure how introspection about death was translated into being drunk and stupid and going to the beach, but sometimes I miss leaps of logic common to most Americans. If you must, you can throw a hamburger on the grille afterwards.

Whichever of these groups you are in (and there may be some overlap), try not to be an ass this weekend.

[Memorial Day]