Let’s face it, virtually everything about life is better, cheaper and less stressful when lived off peak. Doing things when everybody else isn’t.
Lines are shorter, traffic is lighter and even the cost of electricity is lower. Not only that, but finding some damn peace and solitude is much more easy to achieve! As a working adult, I like quiet time.
Note to my future early retired self – write another article in a couple years bragging of how wonderful it is to spend the weekdays being productive and the weekends home and away from crowds.
Often, crowds and long lines form in the areas where you probably don’t want to be. Every year I watch a strange robotic ritual of seemingly intelligent, successful people sleep on sidewalks and stand for hours in line to drop hundreds of dollars on cheaply made Apple “stuff” – and are evidently happy for the privilege of paying the price!
Equally strange, back when I used to commute into an office, I had the distinct honor of driving by a Starbucks and witnessing the drive-through line backup into a lane of traffic to enable those drivers, unwilling to employ the use of their perfectly functional legs, to procure their over-priced fancy-shmancy coffee.
In Vegas, young 20 and 30-somethings will stand in line for hours to pay an expensive cover charge for the frilly privilege of entering a prestigious night club, fully prepared to kick back over-priced drinks while inadvertently rubbing ass cheeks with the majority of the people in there.
And speaking of rubbing ass cheeks, I will never understand why hordes of people assemble in Times Square every year to watch some brightly-colored spherical object slowly descend down some mechanical apparatus at mid-night on New Years. People standing for hours, holding in their bathroom necessities, pretending that this is just something they “need to experience”, just for the privilege of watching something that’s over in just a matter of seconds. Good lord, why?
Move away. Just…move away
More times than not, when you notice people lined up, turn around and get the hell away because you are most likely in the proximity of others paying good money for stupid things. Even when no money is involved, have crowds ever, in the history of the universe, made your enjoyment of something any better?
How about sporting events? Don’t the crowds of people neatly sitting around a large venue watching absurdly over-paid athletes enhance the excitement of the game? Hell no! Most of us know how to cheer and yell at our televisions by watching the game at home, though I’m sure being repeatedly kicked by the guy behind you who’s getting trashed off of cheap alcohol is a wonderful experience.
Or even worse, rock concerts. What better way to enhance your joy and wonderment of your favorite band than by uncomfortably standing in an over-crowded arena listening to the band lip-sync to their own music, which could otherwise be heard in the comfort of your own home – headphones optional, at far better quality, comfort and enjoyment?
Isn’t this why private sky boxes and exclusive club seats exist at large, crowded venues? Stadiums are giving people the inane opportunity to avoid crowds at crowded events.
We all get to experience a little of this off-peakiness on vacations, don’t we? We hate visiting national parks and other beautiful areas of our country on the weekend because that is when everybody else is there. When work drains 5 days a week out of your life, the weekend is your only real chance to escape.
Take our trip to Glacier National Park. We hiked pleasant uncrowded trails during the Thursday and Friday of our trip, but once Saturday rolled around, traffic was noticeably heavier, trails more packed and parking lots were akin to watching ants clumsily bang into each other as they aimlessly wander from place to place in some sort of confining container for scientific study.
Not only are parks and trails more crowded over the weekend, you gotta be flat insane to set foot in a shopping mall when the majority of the population is out of work and ready to spend that hard-earned cash. Or how about going to a popular movie on opening night? What makes a movie popular, anyway, before anyone has seen it? Oh, right…clever marketers. But I digress.
A 5-minute trip up to the damn grocery store during rush hour traffic turns into a 20-minute obscenity-laced, fist-pounding death-defying activity.
Of all the benefits of retirement, this might be the sweetest of them all – or at the very least, the next best thing to avoiding spending 8 to 10 hours a day in a fluorescent-lit box – otherwise known as the “office” – full of managers dropping by to figure out why you forgot to put the new damn cover sheet on your TPS reports. The company sent a memo, you know. Your manager will make sure that you get another copy of that memo.
I want nothing to do with the peak. I want to hike at 10am on a Tuesday, dammit. I want to run out to grab another head of lettuce mid-afternoon in a mostly-empty grocier. I want to hit the gym in late morning, after the early risers and before the lunch-break crowd.
Work or no work, we’re done with crowds and on-peak living. We hate the stress required to navigate the maze, the noise, the time, the expense. After retirement – and to some degree, NOW – the weekend will be our time to stay away from the crowds, stay off the streets, and just relax. Come Monday morning, we’re at it again, exploring our beautiful world in peace and relative quiet. We will quickly learn to hate weekends and holidays, much preferring the opportunity to live our lives to the fullest…while the rest of the world is at work.
How much time and money do you think can be saved when enjoying your life…off peak hours?
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.