Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Greedy Rich People

For the Canada Day long weekend, M and I left the city to camp in front of a lake for three nights.  It was an amazing escape, complete with star-filled skies, late evenings in front of the campfire, and tasty but not-so-healthy camping food.  I felt more relaxed than I have in months, and I constantly found myself saying that I didn't want to go home (and particularly not back to work).

We had planned to completely avoid the Canada Day celebrations, as we both had some reservations about celebrating 150 years of colonization and abuse of indigenous peoples, but while stopping for gas we heard about "the best small town fireworks show in the province" from the sales clerk, and we decided to go.  So on Saturday night, we left our refuge in the woods for the relative civilization of a town of 1,000 people.

When we arrived in town, there was a small area by the waterfront that had been designated the fireworks viewing area.  It seemed that all 1,000 townspeople had come out for the celebration, as there wasn't an inch of available space on which to sit or stand.  So we walked down the street until we found a lovely grassy area on which many people had set up blankets to watch the show.

Unfortunately, the area had been blocked off with orange plastic fencing; however, there was a steady stream of people walking under the fencing, so we followed suit.  We found a great spot on the grass with a clear view of the water, and we settled in to watch the show. 

And then, an angry woman came over and started yelling at us.

"This is private property!  What are you doing here?"

We were a bit surprised, as there were easily hundreds of other people lying on the ground, so we explained to her that we were looking for a place to watch the fireworks and had simply followed other people into the area.

"Well!  It's private property!  You can't stay here!  You have to leave!"

Now...I understand that no one wants their property trespassed on, and I do recognize that we were trespassing. was an enormous field that easily could have accommodated many more people than were sitting on it.  The woman who was yelling at us was part of a group having a large bonfire, and they were taking up only a very small portion of the grass closest to the fireworks, so the people watching the show were not impinging on their space in any way.  And the people who had come for the show were sitting quite peacefully, not appearing to be disruptive or damaging to anything.

And yet, this woman didn't want any of us there.  Because it was part of her property, and heaven forbid someone else enjoy something to which they aren't entitled.

Which I completely don't understand.  If I have something that I'm not using, such as a giant piece of land that is too large for myself and my small group of friends, I would happily let someone else use it.  This woman and her group could easily have let us all sit and watch the show, at no harm to them.  If they'd been concerned about crowd control, perhaps they could have negotiated with the town to block off a portion of the property for the public, so that the space could have been enjoyed by everyone while still "protecting" the group who owns it.

But no.  It was her property, and she didn't want anyone else to enjoy it.

Fitting metaphor for the celebration of 150 years of colonization.

Am I wrong about this?  I was and still am horrified by the way that this woman treated us (and many other people who had come to watch the fireworks).  The pure selfishness of it offends me so much.


  1. First, I am not Canadian so I don't know the laws surrounding privately held land. Also I don't know any of the history of the fireworks show in this little town. Perhaps there was a time with this private property owner freely allowed visitors to her town to spread out on her property for the public fireworks display. Perhaps visitors did not respect her property and left garbage, demanded use of her bathroom facilities, and/or sued her if they were hurt on her property. Perhaps she had tried to work with the town and had met with no help.Perhaps crowds have become unruly in the past. Perhaps what was once a small town celebration has become more than the public lands in the town can handle. She did try to protect her property with the orange fence and people ignored it and didn't respect private property. Maybe she isn't rich-she may be land rich but money and resources poor. You don't know. You jumped to judgement and assumed the worse of the woman. You were a guest in this small town and an uninvited guest on her property. Rich or poor doesn't matter. You felt entitled to a good view regardless of a private property owner's wishes for her property. You were there trespasser who followed the crowd through the barrier she had set up to protect her property.

  2. Annonymous makes some great points. The woman clearly delineated her space and you have to respect that. She shouldn't have to build up a huge gate to prevent people from lounging on her lawn, but if there was a huge iron fence I'm guessing nobody would have had the balls to climb it and chill on her property. It would be clear that's not ok, but for some reason her makeshift fence wasn't clear enough. If she hadn't said anything, then you would all just colonize her land until it affected her...

  3. You clearly state that you recognize this was private property and you were trespassing. What else is there to say?
    If a hundred people you're following proceed to break in to a store and loot it, are you going to do the same and assume it's ok?
    When you buy your own land you can do what you want with it and happily welcome hundreds of people getting drunk and blowing off their fingers on it, if you like.

  4. I don't think any of these comments were especially harsh. I was kind of shocked at how entitled you sounded. Can't relate to property because only rich assholes own things? Fine. How would you like it if some strangers took all the clothes in your closet and spread excrement all over them, and then acted shocked and offended when you protested, saying you were selfish for not letting them use your clothes as toilet paper. Think about it.