Retirement in The Villages, FL
Hogs on the Town Square!
Real hogs: People who disregard others and don’t follow safety rules. Coronavirus update added April 5.
People are generally polite and courteous, but there are always a few exceptions. I don’t know if they are blind, stupid or just plain bullies, but we still have to watch out for them. They are most visible on or around the town squares, where The Villages, a retirement community in Florida, sponsors a live concert, with dancing, every day.
Dancing on the Square to Live Concerts — Every Day
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There’s room for around 200 dancers and the square provides about 500 plastic chairs. Many more bring their own chairs if it is a popular band. Johnny Wild and the Delights, the most popular band in The Villages, draws around 1,000 spectators.
The problems start with the chairs.
Sitting in the emergency aisle
The staff stacks the chairs in the outer row all around the square. Spectators, when they arrive, place the chairs, or their own chairs, into 4 rows on the outside. The dance area is between the chairs and the stage in the center.
The emergency aisles from the street to the center are marked by parallel rows of concrete blocks embedded in the floor of the square. The paramedics have had to bring a stretcher onto the square for an emergency only once since we moved here.
Yesterday, hogs put 2 chairs into the emergency aisle, far enough apart so people could walk through, but too close together for a stretcher to fit. Fortunately, there was not an emergency that day. The hogs don’t show up every day, but it is only a matter of time until they block an emergency gurney.
Line of chairs in two rows
People get there early and set up a line of 6 chairs. The first chair is in row #1 with the last chair in the second row, thus crossing an aisle between rows. People would have only one exit from the second row.
Sometimes, it is just due to ignorance and they move the chairs to one row when asked. The hogs say, “It is none of your business” and stay where they are. The Villages supplies regular security that handles such things, but unfortunately only for the most popular bands drawing the largest crowds.
Sitting in the exit aisle
One section is so large that people need to position chairs with a center aisle so that people in the back can get out without going to the end and having to climb over everybody. A one-chair width aisle is customary.
There’s no official spot for the aisle. If I get there before anybody else, I set up a couple dozen chairs on three rows marking an aisle. Occasionally, the hogs add a chair, blocking the aisle. In that case, it doesn’t even pay to say anything.
Phantom chair holders
The rule announced before every concert is: “To save chairs before the concert, you must have at least one member of your party remain with the chairs.”
We do save chairs on the front row for one older couple where the man can barely walk, and a young lady with a 3-wheel walker, or wheelchair, depending on her condition that day. I arrive more than an hour early for popular bands. I set up the exit aisle at the same time.
Sometimes, I get there and the hogs have a bunch of chairs with seat cushions — nobody around. I’ve been tempted to throw the cushions into the fountain, but have restrained myself.
Dancing with flailing elbows on a crowded floor
Last night was cold, so we went to a club on the square. Half of the patrons sat under the heaters at the outside bar while listening to the band. Inside, they had a different band and a small dance floor. It was crowded.
We had adjusted our usual style to use less floor space when I got hit by an elbow. The hogs next to us, resembling the lead picture for this article, except for the snouts, had not adjusted for a crowded floor. They used the same space as 4 or 5 couples. I’m sure they were depending on their mass and intimidation to knock anybody out of their way.
They continued to behave the same when they returned to their table, the man standing in the aisle and shouting nonsense at the band.
Dancing with open drinks in their hand
Usually, this is not a problem on the square. Most people leave their drink on their chair. The dance area is large enough so that the one or two that do carry their drink while dancing do not bother anyone.
The clubs, with smaller dance floors that can become slippery when wet, do become a problem, even when not crowded. I don’t want beer spilled on me, and I don’t want to walk through it getting my shoes sticky and track that stuff home.
Of course, I saw one guy set his drink on the top of the urinal in the bathroom, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Imitation service dogs
Being a large retirement community, many residents have registered service dogs. Others bring pets, frequently in baby carriages. Some even dance with their dogs. The dogs are usually very well behaved.
One evening, a hog brought a large dog that constantly barked, interrupting the music. It also tried to attack other dogs in the square and blocked the emergency exit aisle.
Taking up parts of two parking spots
The Villages, a huge golf cart retirement community, provides expanded parking places that will hold 4 golf carts, as shown in the picture.
Once one cart is parked, the remainder of the space is reserved for golf carts. As shown in the picture, a Smart Car can park nose to the curb since it is about the same length.
The hog determines that there is enough space between the carts, even when the carts are in different parking spaces, and squeezes their car between them, as shown in the picture. Sometimes, the line is in the center of the car, so it is no accident.
Responsible people are considerate and stay 6 feet apart. The hogs, especially those that know they are contaminated with the virus, go out in public anyway.
One pastor was arrested for bringing people to church in buses for services. His resemblance to the picture at the top of this article is striking. So, I searched “Pastor arrested” on Google and got 7 additional hits in 3 countries.
Others hogs are wearing ankle bracelets courtesy of the courts for going out when tested positive.
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So far, there has been no reports of similar hogs running loose in The Villages.
There are other, less frequent occurrences, like one person who sits at an outside restaurant table for four, orders 1 drink, listens to music on the square for 2 hours, then goes home for dinner. Especially when others have to wait to eat dinner at that restaurant.
Mostly, everyone in The Villages is polite and considerate of each other. We are all too old for such pettiness. However, the hogs and bullies are always with us.