November 28, 2008
When I was 13 or 14 years old, the last year I was an active member of the Boy Scouts, my troop spent a week at camp. The camp was new and modern and full of great activities. The pool director liked to have people tossed in the pool. Birthday. New merit badge. Any kind of recognition at all was an excuse to pick someone up from the dinning hall, carry them to the pool and toss them in. Great fun.
The night before camp was to end it was decided that the pool director needed to be tossed in the pool. When he tried to escape, and was caught, everyone ran out of the dinning hall to watch the fun. I tripped and fell in front of several hundred people and was trampled in the stampede. To this day I can remember seeing all these boots and shoes come at me and running over me.
At the time I was fine. One of my assistant scoutmasters managed to wade into the tail end of the crowd and scoop me up from the floor. I was seemingly okay. Several hours later I came out of my tent, turning blue in the face and collapse on the ground. I remember coming to in the local emergency room. "Delay stress reaction" was the diagnoses. Other than a couple of bruises, I was physically okay.
To this day I have a lingering hesitation, almost a fear, of large groups of agitated people. I would not enjoy a European soccer game at all.
Managing a crowd is a difficult thing. Masses of people do funny things and once they are headed in a direction it is nearly impossible to stop them. To read today that a Walmart employee was trampled to death while trying to unlock the doors for "Black Friday" shoppers sickens me.
Are we so desperate to save a dollar or two that we are willing to trample a fellow human being to death? I am outraged and saddened. Somewhere a child is going to get a toy or gift that was purchased over the dead body of another human being. All because their parent had to buy it at 5 am instead of 9 am.
Only in America.