EDITORIAL: Crowd-borne claustrophobia and beachgoers galore

Observer editor Adam Louis says frustration is healthy, but only to a point

There are a few effects of COVID-19 I wasn’t anticipating I would personally feel.

My wife and I have been binging on TV shows via our streaming service, and I can’t help but feel myself tense up and squirm a little bit whenever I see a crowded room. It’s made even worse when the scene I’m watching happens to take place in a hospital. If you’ve ever watched Smallville, you know how often that happens. Yikes.

Unlike the sweaty palms I get when watching crowds on TV, the real-life crowd-borne claustrophobia and fear of COVID-19 is real and to some degree, it’s valid.

Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs and Harrison Mills all have their own tourist spots. It may be a result of people gaining confidence. It may be because it’s summer and the weather is at long last getting warm. It might be a sudden call of the wild that fuels the need to relieve cabin fever for hundreds of people at a time. To be frank, it’s probably a fresh, frosty cocktail of all three of these factors that causes crowds on the weekend in our humble home.

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My latest venture up to Harrison one balmy evening allowed me to take note that, by and large, while mask wearing was at an all-time low, people seem to be respecting the space guidelines. Granted, this was a weekday, and I’ve seen how crowded Harrison can get on summer weekends. The law of averages indicate there are probably problem areas on the traditional days off.

I still see some complaints on social media about the COVID-19 crowds in Harrison. I’m not here to chastise this time. I’ve done that enough. I get it. You need to vent.

Be mad that rule-breakers exist. Get angry that they’re in your proverbial backyard. I know I would certainly appreciate it if you didn’t pollute the local Facebook buzz with a baker’s dozen of posts repeatedly yelling at the kids these days to get off your lawn, but I can’t stop you.

It’s okay to feel angry. What’s not okay is holding onto it and letting it ruin an otherwise good day. Being annoyed at tourists is one thing, but getting hostile or territorial that tourists come to a tourist destination after dealing with cabin fever for months on end is another matter entirely. Let the anger pass through you and wave goodbye to it on its way out.

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The best thing you can do for yourself in situations like this is acknowledge these people and these feelings exist and move on with your lives. This takes practice. I’m still getting better at it myself.

In the end, you can only change your own behaviour. You can lead by example, but you can’t make people follow it. This isn’t about you or how smart you are. If you find people do follow your lead, great. Consider yourself privileged and pat yourself on the back. If nobody follows where you go, that’s okay, too. Small, individual efforts in fighting COVID-19 make the biggest difference if enough people stick to it.

As for the people who aren’t following physical distancing rules or exercising the appropriate precautions, I’ll say this: don’t make me pull a Third Beach. Don’t make me assemble a larger-than-life portrait of myself looking disappointed to post smack in the middle of Harrison’s lovely beaches.

There are several practical reasons I only print my picture an inch tall in the paper, but I’d be lying if I said one of them wasn’t that nobody deserves to see a gargantuan rendition of my disapproving face staring through you on a post near Harrison Lake. Not even my worst enemies – whoever they may be – deserve that kind of punishment.

Look, we’ve had some setbacks in recent weeks as far as the pandemic goes. We’ve beat the curve down before, and we can do it again.

Incidentally, if anyone knows the costs and permits involved in posting such a portrait, please let me know. Just in case.

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