Nuclear power, Michael Jackson and Sail Amsterdam

Today’s assignment: Describe the largest crowd you’ve ever been part of

Large crowds are not my favorite, especially if the space gets tight. I’m not claustrophobic or anything, but I prefer to keep a distance.

As I mentioned earlier, I was born and raised in a very small city with a population of 2500 good people.  If we had ever been together in one place, we would have been a crowd. Not a large, but a decent one. We never were.

When I was about 18 years old, I moved to a somewhat larger city, the capitol of the northern German State of Schleswig Holstein, Kiel with a population of about 200.000 people.  That was a large city in my opinion.

I lived there for about 2 years and during that time the government of the state decided that we should have nuclear power plants. What a horrible idea, so of course we were going to demonstrate against it.

Compared to many demonstrations you see and hear about today, we were actually very nice and quiet and civilized back then.  We just walked through the city and ended up outside the government building. Some people were giving speeches and the rest of us stood and waited for somebody from the government to come out and listen to us. Nobody came.

Yes, well, that’s not entirely true. After a while there came more police and they came with a water cannon. We weren’t doing anything illegal and there was no law against standing where we stood, but never the less, they asked us to leave, and when we didn’t want to, they made us.

Just in case you never tried it: you can’t hold your ground when somebody points a water cannon at you. The water lifts you up and flushes you away with all the rest of the dirt.

After that I’d had it with large crowds for a while and the next time I met up with one was at a Michael Jackson concert in Copenhagen in 1997.

My girls had practically been MJ fans since kindergarten and in 1997 they had all his music, which was pretty much all they ever heard, and of course they had to see him when he came to Denmark.

Julie was 14 and Lise was 12, so they could not go alone, which meant that I had to go with them.

I don’t remember how many people went to that concert, but I was sure glad my girls did not go alone. Julie was lucky to get in front of a barricade in front of the stage and didn’t get pushed by the masses, but in the beginning Lise and I did come to close to that barricade, even before MJ started to sing and I had to use all my power to pull the both of us out of there. People were like crazy. Anyway, it was a great concert and Lise and I enjoyed it from a safe distance a little further behind.

Ten years went by and in the meantime my girls grew up and I moved to Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

One day a colleague of mine asked me if I wanted to go to the Sail Amsterdam with her and “Sure, why not,” I said, without knowing what it was. Downtown we went and OMG! What a lot of people.

I don’t know how many there were, but if you told me there were a million, I would believe you. They were everywhere, talking, drinking, laughing and yelling. We couldn’t see the ships or get anywhere near the water. We barely could hear each other talking and after only a short while I decided that it was better to go home. And so I did. My colleague stayed a little longer, but she told me later that she never saw any of the ships.

So what do I think of large crowds? They’re not for me. It’s not natural.

My sister has chicken and she told me that the size of a group of chicken in nature is 25 animals. If they get more than 25, the chicken get confused and start fighting until their number is down to about 25 again. I can sympathize with that. Actually, most of the time I think that even 25 people are a crowd.

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