Do any of you guys ever get the feeling like either too much of the world is into all the same things you’re interested in, or perhaps you yourself are too much like the rest of the world, and are more or less falling in line with a parade of similarly behavioral people? I’ve been feeling like this recently.
When I was a broody moody teenager, I recall taking great lengths in deliberately going in directions that “everyone else” went. Whether it was class selection, choice in artistic expressions, to simply things like routes I drove, and the things I decided to do. I was trying to differentiate from the crowd, and it required effort.
Eventually, and it’s probably closest to my current state of being, I simply stopped trying, and kind of let life dictate itself as if it were water flowing, moving constantly, but at a default motion. However, by doing such, lately I feel like in spite of my past efforts, when the day is over, I’m not quite the unique butterfly that I like to think everyone likes to think they are sometimes.
Friday was almost a tragedy of errors that served as the impetus for this post. It’s like no matter what I did or where I went, or what my intentions were, it’s like I couldn’t avoid the metaphorical tons of other people who were also on the same wavelengths. It frustrated me, because I couldn’t simply get away from other people, and it really made me start questioning the things I like, and my own thought processes, because they can’t be too unique if so many other people are on board seemingly.
I left work to go to Rome, Georgia, because I wanted to get a bobblehead, possibly two, so that I could indulge my hobby of collecting baseball bobbleheads. From the onset, the whole feeling of “everyone going where I’m going” was in full effect, as I slogged through horrific I-75 northbound traffic that was caused by, absolutely nothing.
Seriously, there was no wreck, no road construction, or any sort of logical rationale that would cause the traffic that was present, but yet there it still was. I came to the conclusion the following conclusion:
Nothing: the leading cause of standstill traffic in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area.
I get to the Rome Braves’ ballpark, and sure enough, there’s already a good bit of people present, awaiting gates opening, so they can get bobbleheads as well. The event advertised 1,000 bobbleheads being given out, and the cursory headcount whilst waiting, I estimated close to 400 people waiting in lines. There was no reason why I shouldn’t be able to pull an in-and-out-and-back-in and secure two bobbleheads; one that I would keep for myself, and one that I would use as trading currency to acquire more bobbleheads.
Gates open; it’s slow, but I get through, get my first bobblehead, and I’m immediately out the door, and putting it into my car. I get back into line, nervous but still faithful that I can get the second one. My ticket is scanned, and then… the remaining bobbleheads in my particular line are given away, maybe like three people in front of me. The line to my right, where #1 came from is already out. The line to my left, still had bobbleheads left, and the people in front of me, as well as myself, hurry over there to plead our case that we haven’t gotten a bobblehead.
We’re immediately told that “we can’t do that,” because the bobbleheads in that line, belong to those people. I disagree with that logic, because it’s the “first 1,000 tickets,” and as far as I’m concerned, my ticket was scanned and logged prior to anyone still in that line, and I believed that I was entitled to my bobblehead. Regardless, a cop and some employees vehemently prevented any of us freshly screwed ticket holders from getting our bobbleheads.
Now, I know it sounds a little greedy, considering that I already got one. But my rationale for differentiating myself from those who hoard bobbleheads is that I’m not in it to make profit. There’s no guarantee that everyone else is either, but as indicative of eBay, the vast majority of people are. I seek out extras, because bobbleheads make great currency to trade for other bobbleheads. I’m doing it for the pursuit of the hobby first and foremost; I’m not going to pretend like I haven’t sold any bobbleheads on eBay myself, but typically that occurs after I fail to find a trade, and typically I’m not making close to the profit that they’re capable of when they’re freshly released.
The bottom line is that I couldn’t secure a second bobblehead, even after waiting out the game, and hoping some people would carelessly leave them behind. That’s no longer the case these days, because the jig is up, and people know they can typically make some easy money by hocking them on eBay. They treat bobbleheads like the dollar signs they’re capable of generating second hand, and seldom are they left behind anymore, much to my dismay.
And so, this is where I began really having negative thoughts about this particular hobby. It’s incidents like this that sure, I’m bitter because I couldn’t get a second bobblehead, but it’s because I simply can’t compete. Whereas I’m one person, who can get two occasionally through guile and quick feet, entire families show up, and each member is given their own bobblehead, from 54-year old dad, to 54-day old toddler in mom’s arms, because most ballparks don’t seem to care about criteria like mental coherence or the ability to have basic motor functions.*
*ironically, the one time I tried to have this family exploit work to my advantage, and send my sister, her husband and two kids to a ballpark to try and get me four bobbleheads, that park actually had an age limit. Only kids 10+ get bobbleheads. I only got two. Go figure.
Furthermore, I’m pretty sure the Rome Braves weren’t necessarily truthful about their numbers. I had 30 minutes in line, I had the time to do a fairly rough headcount, and even factoring in the season ticket holder line, there was at tops, 500 people at gates opening. Either they weren’t truthful towards their numbers, or they were really hoarding back some extra boxes.
The bottom line is with this one hobby that I’ve enjoyed for the most part, it too, feels like something that’s frankly too common, or at least has an amount of competition involved in it that is taking some of the fun out of it for me.
I actually collect these things, and pursuing extras serves as primarily a means to trade for others. But nowadays I have to compete with families who exploit the head count procedure of who gets them, so they can turn around and flip them for an easy buck.
It’s nights like Rome that had me really thinking about whether or not this is such an enjoyable hobby anymore. I’m not going to lie, bobbleheads have kind of dictated my baseball ambitions throughout this season, and I probably have missed opportunities to simply see new places, by virtue of prioritizing the acquisition of bobbleheads ahead.
But going back to the topic of eBay, and namely trying to flip something for money, I’m currently trying to flip a printer that came as part of a bundle with my digital camera. Long story short, it’s a printer that’s listed at a retail price of $350+, but because I’m apparently not as uniquely thinking as I like to believe I am, there’s an absolutely saturated marketplace with these things. The average sale on eBay appears to be roughly $150ish, which is over 50% off the estimated retail. Brand-spanking-fucking-new, too.
Even trying to keep it local, and going on Craigslist to see if I can unload it within the city and avoid having to pay the likely $50+ to ship a 56 pound package, I discovered that there are at least ten other Atlantans with the same idea, and in order to compete with them, I’ve listed mine at like $130.
I still haven’t gotten a single (legit) bite.
Needless to say, I was in a pretty dejected mood when I left the Rome Braves game, with but just one bobblehead, and watching people carrying three or four of their own, while a wobbly-walking toddler and/or an infant in a stroller rolled adjacent to them with mom.
Naturally, the tragic metaphor continued, that even in spite of it being late at night, there just had to be an unexpectedly high number of cars choosing to be taking the back roads that I had decided to take home back to Atlanta, to circumvent the most obvious route. And here I thought I was being clever, and pulling the wool over karma, and taking some magic back roads that nobody else had thought of.
To make matters worse, often times, these people were going under the speed limit, making me feel pretty homicidal. Every intersection we pulled up to, I begged for them to turn off, or something that would get them off of the same route I was going on, but naturally that did not ever occur.
And to put the cherry on top of this shit sundae, when I hit I-20, they decided to spontaneously close two lanes out of three; and with I-20 being a major truck route artery throughout the entire country, with us being so close to Alabama, with Alabamans already being some of the worst drivers on the planet, the predictable tragic traffic incident occurred, leaving me wanting to jump off a bridge.
Best part was when I reached the part where the lanes were actually closed, there was nothing going on in the sectioned off lanes. Once again:
Nothing: the leading cause of standstill traffic in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area.
One of the greatest traffic displays of competence I’d ever seen in my life was, in spite of my recent slamming of Virginia, was in Virginia. I was driving down US-29, and there was an electronic sign that said “LEFT LANE CLOSED 29 MILES AHEAD. MERGE EARLY AVOID DELAY.” Another sign would materialize five miles later and then another five miles later, and so forth. And wouldn’t you know it, by the time the lane closed, traffic was moving at a steady 55 mph pace in one lane!
Not in fucking Georgia though. “2 LEFT LANES CLOSED. AHEAD.” By the time you read the sign, it’s already too late, and there’s no way to avoid it. More times than I can count, the amount of warning time is given in feet, instead of miles, with most of the times already being slammed in the traffic before knowing it’s going to be an issue.
Naturally, my evening couldn’t come to an end without getting stuck behind one last pair of cars, obviously lost, and the handicapped placard couldn’t help in leading me to believe that they’re geriatric and shouldn’t be driving in the first place, much less at a time past midnight.
Fortunately for me, it happened to be in an area, where I could legally pass them. Which I did. With extreme prejudice. Fuck them. Fuck Rome, Georgia and the Rome Braves. Fuck all the circumstances that put me in such a shitty mood, questioning my state of life.