This is part of a series concerning my Fairview Experience. Part One is here. "You must have made a lot of friends while camping out."
No, I didn't.
To be sure, I appreciated the company of those around me. They were truly some great people and I look forward to getting to know them even better as our kids attend school together.
But there was a certain camp dynamic that presented itself, which might explain why I wasn't as socialable as you might expect. It took me a day or two to nail this down, but by the end of the experience I had pretty well mapped out the sociology of the camp. And it is best present this . . . is with a map.
Yes, the map might be overkill, but as a public speaker, I know the usefulness of visual aids. Just appreciate it.
Obviously, the big white building is the school. The line began at the main driveway entrance, and the people in line camped on the hill in front of the school. The first person in line, a law enforcement officer (later nicknamed, "The General"), set up his tent and started the sign-up sheet at approximately 4pm on Thursday afternoon. Within a couple of hours, there were almost twenty people in line. These people made up the first group.
GROUP ONE: THE FIRST RESPONDERS
While there was many different ages of people in this group, most of them seemed to be in their late forties and early fifties. These people were well prepared for the long-term experience and had their gear ready to go ahead of time. I only met one or two people from this group, and that's just because I knew someone who knew those people. Honestly, by the time these people had their numbers called by the end of the weekend, I'm not sure I could recognize any of them. They stayed in their area and, generally, stayed out of the rest of camp hijinks. I credit this to sheer topography. The area of The First Responders was on top of a hill and, there was no need for them to descend to lower ground. One of these people actually had an RV that they pulled on to site (they did, however, always have someone in line). Another had a restaurant style sidewalk heater. Their preparation was ridiculous.
After these early birds got their worms, the other birds showed up . . . um, to get their worms too.
GROUP TWO: THE FUN BUNCH
I'm thinking that this group received word that people were setting up camp and were fearful that they would miss out if they didn't get to the school ASAP. The age of this group was younger than the first—mostly people in their thirties. There was instantaneous bonding among this group. They set up a common space among the tall trees in the valley and this area became party central. I would observe that they milked all the fun to be had out of this experience. I think the fact that this group ended up camping out another night (4 nights total) contributed to the party scene. Example 1: on Saturday night, an unseasonably warm night, the sound of drunken storytelling could be heard from this area at 2:30am. Example 2: early Tuesday morning, when people were finally able to register their kids, this group formed a cheering human tunnel through which all the members could go through to end the experience. Needless to say, the masses were not impressed. All of which brings me to my group.
GROUP THREE: THE RESIGNED
Yes, our group was on their way into work on Friday morning and heard the rumors of large crowds at the school. The vast majority of us swung by just to see how things were going and were dismayed to see so many people already in line. As I noted earlier, by early Friday morning there were already over 50 people in line, so people like me, who knew they'd probably have to camp out, finally decided to pull the trigger. As a result, most of us were OK with camping out, but were kinda angry that the people at the front of the line hadn't practiced a little more patience. I'd describe our collective mood as subdued. Our ages were all over the place: a good amount of thirty somethings, with other ages sprinkled in. In the end, we all knew that we had secured a place for our children, which was distinguishing factor between us and the next folk.
GROUP FOUR: THE WORRIED
These people showed up sometime between noon and the evening on Friday. Their place in line was precarious, as they were right on the edge of those guaranteed of a place for their child. As a result, they were constantly talking about the line— the apathy of the people at the front, whether or not the RV people were legit, and were there people who had signed up but actually weren't there. On Monday morning, when we had to break down our tents and move to the sidewalk, a couple from this group came over expressing their hesitation about the process. I did my best to calm them and let them know we were all going to survive. The irony is, practically all the people in this group got their kids into the school. So the days of worrying was all for naught.
GROUP FIVE: THE END OF THE LINE
Most of these people showed up on Sunday. They were hoping that they could still get in while avoiding the long term camping. Because they were scattered about at the end of the line, I'm not sure I saw many of these people until we actually went into the school late Monday night. Sadly, they had to endure the worst night camping out, as Sunday night was by far the coldest evening to be out there. But fortunately, even though many of these parents were relegated to the wait list, they will most likely get their kids into the school.
So like I said, it wasn't this huge bonding experience for me. For me, it was almost like a time of solitude amongst many. So if I wasn't overtly social, what did I do in the down time?
- I read a book and a half. Since the most of my time was in the night hours, and I don't read well by flashlight, that's all I could fit in.
- I listened to music on my iPod while watching traffic. It was more enjoyable than it sounds.
- I walked laps around the school building in the dark. Again, it sounds pathetic, but it made time pass and provided a little exercise. I will admit that one night, I took a walk about a mile away to Mount Storm park. I'm such the rebel.
- I thought. I thought a lot.
Oh, and I camped out.