Tuesday, July 09, 2002

This weekend kicked off the annual Bluesfest held right here in Ottawa. It is a weeklong festival that features live music on three different stages throughout the day. Some famous artists that are playing at the festival include The Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, Melissa Etheridge, Jann Arden, and Lauryn Hill! I have decided to volunteer for the event, because I really enjoy doing community work - not to mention I get to listen to them for free! (Plus there is that SLIGHT chance I get to meet the artists)

Yesterday was my first shift, and possibly my longest one. I took a double-shift from 3pm to 11pm, and let me tell you, it's not as easy as it seems. First of all, I was placed in Security, so I stood outside in the blazing sun for hours. There's no where for me to sit either. Anyhow, to make matters worse, I was placed ALONE at the concession vehicle entrance - meaning I had nobody else to talk to. Just great.

The festival is held in the middle of the city at Confederation Park. For some reason they also closed off the Laurier Bridge that crosses the Rideau Canal. The entrance I was manning was one of the entranceways to Laurier Bridge, which local residents have gotten used to travelling on. Well during the festival, the bridge is closed to the public. As you can imagine, that really frustrated a lot of people, especially the ones living around the neighbourhood. Not only do they HAVE to listen to the music (or noise, as somebody kindly pointed out to me yesterday), but also they are inconvenienced by the closure of the bridge.

Many people have expressed their 'anger' at me when I kindly inform them that the bridge is closed, and that they would have to walk TWO MINUTES to the next bridge and cross there. Now I totally understand the amount of patience one must have to be in the post of security. I was spitted on (well, they didn't hit me, but it was awfully close), cursed at, yelled at, you name it. Two guys walked past me yesterday, even after I told them that it is closed. They turned around, and said, "You can either watch me or call the cops." I didn't want to cause too much trouble, so I just let them through the bridge - while I called for backup. They were eventually stopped at the other end of the bridge and were sent back to my entrance.

One event really jumped out at me though, and I thought I'd share this with you. Now all of you should know that I'm a Canadian (and damn proud of that too), but I really have nothing against Americans. Sure sometimes I laugh at jokes at the expense of Americans, but that is about the same as Americans laughing at us for living in igloos all year, and have dogs pull our sled to work! Be assured that there were no hard feelings, and I do not generalize Americans to be all the same.

Anyway, this man was walking by the entrance. He seemed angry, and he was staring at me. Before I could ask him if he needed any help, he lashed out at me, screaming, "Canada's capital is closed! CLOSED DOWN!" I was stunned - alright, so the festival closed down a couple of streets, big deal. I could tell from his accent that he's definitely not from around here. After he said that, he gave me the finger. Now I was getting really angry, but since I was representing Bluesfest when I'm on duty, I refrained myself from saying anything. He kept walking, but still staring at me. He screamed again, "I'm from America! Fuck you Canada!! Canada can fucking kiss my fucking ass! You guys are all assholes! Here's something for you!" and he stuck up his middle finger at me again.

At this point, I was about the jump the fence and beat the guy senseless. I am no activist of the Canadian-pride movement, but I do not like my country being trashed as such. However, this is also the time for me to exercise constraint on my temper. "Let it go," I told myself. So he just stormed past the entrance and I just stood there watching him. After he left, I was proud of myself for not being short-tempered at a situation like this. At the same time, hurt and anger overfilled my emotions. I thought to myself, "How ignorant.. " Later on I found out that he also harassed many other volunteers. He certainly left a negative impression of our neighbouring country at the festival.

I still have a couple more shifts to go this week; hopefully they will go without a hitch or dramatic incidents like this one!

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