Imagine a small, irrelevant city in a small, irrelevant country somewhere in a far corner of the Earth, with one or two million inhabitants. Let’s say this country is run by a semi-benevolent dictator, we’ll call him el Presidente for now. Since the country has no natural ressources to speak of, and only breaks the charta of human rights a few times per year, nobody really cares about it. Now imagine it’s a minor holiday, like the birthday of el Presidente’s sister-in-law or something like that. Naturally, on this day, shops have to be closed, because that’s probably best for the population. But still, in our little city, there are two or three shops that, through a dubious interpretation of the law or other means, are actually open on that day. Now, since the people of our virtual city may have forgotten to buy cat food or diapers, or simply want to get some food and drinks, they will all go to those few open stores. That would be quite a crowd, don’t you think?
Now imagine the city we talk about here is Vienna, and the day is the feast of corpus Christi, a catholic holiday. Then the supermarket would look like this:
I took that picture today at the Billa next to the subway/railway hub Praterstern. Since I wasn’t able to get high ground, it’s not very clear, but please imagine that those waiting lines are about 40-50 people each, reaching back so far that they actually bend off at the end. The waiting time was about 20-25 minutes, and instead of store detectives, they had some beefy guys in black that did crowd control.
I’m pretty sure that’s how it was like in the eastern bloc in the 80’s. But it’s a bit sad for a democratic republic that allegedly features a free market economy. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to shop in Slovakia – they actually have 24-hour supermarkets.
P.S.: In other “Welcome to the banana republic of Austria” news, during the eviction of students from some vacant houses of our university campus, which is now becoming something like a weekly ritual between some students and the fuzz, journalists were banned from said campus by the police to “protect them from police dogs”, and two photographers stated that they had their cameras confiscated, and when they got them back, some of the pictures they made where missing from their memory cards.
Ah, democracy is a great thing. I hope I can move to one some day.