March 01, 2007

Are you "crazy"? Observations in Edmonton

In spite of what Hollywood would like us to think, mental illness is no laughing matter so, when I say "crazy", I do not mean to imply mental illness, but rather "unusual, odd, or foolish behaviour".

I saw a lot of craziness in Edmonton on my most recent visit.

In the Airport
First, there's the guy sitting behind me in the airport. His cellphone clucks like a chicken when it rings. OK, so maybe that's not crazy; that's actually pretty cool. Bad example.

But what is crazy is that the first thing you see when you get through security at the Edmonton Airport is a long row of flames (behind glass). I'm sure that's very comforting to those with a fear of flying, or, rather, those with a fear of not-flying-when-they're-supposed-to-be-flying.

I don't know who was crazy enough to give the OK to have that thing installed, but I'm sure it doesn't inspire a sense of calmness in those with aviatophobia.

Or maybe it was installed on purpose. Maybe it's to make would-be terrorists think that they're going to Hell or something if they go through with what they're planning on doing. I guess craziness is only a short step away from genius.

On and Under the Streets
As I walked around the streets of downtown Edmonton, and as I walked along the Pedways under Edmonton, I saw a lot of people talking to themselves. They were walking and they were talking. Very loudly. To themselves. And the things they were saying made very little sense.

I don't have a problem with this. Some people do that. Some of my most memorable conversations have been with people who made very little sense. Sometimes I make very little sense. But what shocked me was how many people were talking out loud, to themselves, and making very little sense. There were a lot more than I ever remember seeing in any city.

So, is it caused by the air from the refineries? Or is it something else? A lot of the talking-loudly-to-themselves people were wearing hats or scarves or toques that covered their ears. Did they have those Bluetooth ear buds concealed beneath? I'll never know.

I wonder if they realise that it makes them look crazy?

One night, as I roamed the streets looking for somewhere to eat, I noticed a rather ironic name for a business. It was called "The Moonlight Cafe". It was closed. Seems rather crazy to me that you would name your restaurant "The Moonlight Cafe" when it's not even open for dinner, let alone when there's moonlight.

Outside my Hotel

As I waited for the shuttle to take me to the airport, I watched as a couple tried to load a very wide, two-tier metal filing cabinet into the back of a K-car. Now, I don't have anything against K-cars, but I do question the sanity of someone who drives a K-car and thinks that they can fit a filing cabinet half the size of the car into the trunk.

For fifteen minutes, I watched as they struggled with different positions for the filing cabinet. It was heavy and, really, I should have helped them, but how do you help someone implement their solution to a problem when you know their solution is flawed from the get-go. That would be crazy.

The airport shuttle came and I never got to see how it ended. Chalk up one more benefit to living in the North: If you don't own a pick-up truck, you know someone who does.

Back in the Airport
Finally, I think the craziest thing I've seen in Edmonton is all the people who are waiting to go to Calgary. It has been snowing heavily in Calgary since Monday and all the flights are horrendously delayed. People have been coming to the airport fully aware of this. By the time they get through airport security and wait and wait and wait for their delayed flights, or finish waiting on stand-by, they could have already been in Calgary - if they had only taken the bus. It's only three hours away! I'm guessing they don't because of those darned non-refundable, non-transferable, you-gotta-pay-a-fee-to-make-an-adjustment airline tickets.

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