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July 31, 2008


Kathleen Bouvier

Touting The Line

I would like to speak to the inherent potential for physical and emotional thrills at standing in line. More precisely I am going to recount a recent experience in evidence of that argument.

.I was just recently standing in an unimaginably long line at Chicago O’Hare airport waiting to be rebooked (certainly not before the next morning as it was already late night) for a missed flight out. I took up conversation with some of my line mates. It started by my wondering out loud whether we aught to be fearful of the fellow near behind us who was so enrapt with his rage over being so terribly inconvenienced (that is to say, slowed down). When finally he threw his cell phone to the ground, effectively eliminating the recipient of his rage, we gave in to uncontrolled laughter (we did stifle ourselves until he was safely out of ear shot).

Momentarily we were approached by a rather imposing looking fellow wearing a badge of some sort and behaving in a rough manner. He pointed to several of us saying, ‘You, you, you…come with me.’ It occurred to us all (we learned in later chatter) that we were about to be reprimanded for committing laughter under such obviously adverse circumstances. In fact, he had singled us out for expedited treatment with a nearby gate agent who happened to be idle.

We were all given boarding passes for our flights out the next morning and a 1-800 phone number for finding a room. While the $300/nite hotel on site was sold out there was a new hotel opened just that week (Aloft) that was very happy to receive us for $75. En route to our shuttle we could not help note that Mr.. With the broken cell phone was still in line waiting. We went on to a lovely night.

Recently I have read of a scientific study to do with the perception of time as pertains to boredom. Enjoying your video of the Slow Race it occurred to me that this would make some people crazy. It’s that sense of urgency that is so pervasive. Does it spring from the speed culture or is it only feeding it? I am encouraged (and amused) by your reference to speed and efficiency as throwbacks to an earlier era. It is good to think that one day (soon?) we might look to these as things once revered and since gone by.

At risk of sounding like a multi-national snob I must point out that The Car as the Heart of Modern Culture (an enormously evil contributor) pertains more particularly to the culture of America than to a global one. I do not see that other peoples and places have so contorted their landscapes and lifestyles in accommodation of the personal vehicle as we Americans have. This is hopeful. I think it means that the world will recover more quickly from this fascination and distortion than we in the U.S. might imagine. It will just take the Americans longer to readapt. Our burgeoning Slow Movements (velo or food or whatever) are a good start. Do keep covering them!

You opened and closed this piece with the word ‘goofy’. That’s great. It goes to people finding the way to not taking themselves, or their time, so seriously. Here’s to more of silliness and smiles.

Cheers, K+

Ilse Lang

If you want to think further about the complex relationship of humans with speed (and timing) , it’s worth seeing the film “El baño del Papa” (the Pope’s toilet)
As a movie it is an excellent show of doing much with very little. Modern? Maybe…...

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