Randy Weeks

Published on May 20th, 2019 | by Randy Weeks

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The View from the Balcony: Double Decker by the Numbers

by Randy Weeks

From where I sat The Double Decker Arts Festival was a smashing success. The weather was darn near perfect, the music was top shelf, and the crowds were teeming. Everyone who had a part in making it happen deserves a standing O. My hat’s off to them.

While watching all this go down, I had a question pop into my head. I wondered how anyone could figure out about how many people were there. I knew there would be an estimate, but just how it would be calculated stymied me. There aren’t any tickets to get in, and there’s no one at any entrance to The Square with a clicker to count folks walking in or out. I pondered that while I enjoyed my Greyhound and pipe. Not being able to come up with anything plausible and being true to the five-minute-no-Google Code of The Balcony, I turned to my balcony-dwelling friends.

CPW Thoreau, Mr. Velvet Bitch, spoke with flair as he always does. “Oh, I can’t believe you don’t know this. You see, now they have these drones equipped with lasers that are able to identify every individual and put the information in a database that automatically calculates the size of the crowd.”

I said, “But I didn’t see any drones.”

He replied, “That’s because they’re invisible. They use a cloaking app that hides them so people won’t think it’s The War of the Worlds 2019.”

Z.Z. Bullfrog, a pythy man, chimed in. “Yeah. Seems I recall an article about ‘em in Consumer Retorts magazine when those things first came out. They had to do a recall and overhaul on ’em ’cause the programmer had misunderstood ‘crowd size’ to mean, how should I say . . . girth. I think they were made by Samsung.”

Mrs. Tarzan the Amazon Woman poo-pooed that one. “You dolts! The way they do it is to send out people with a specific number of stickers of some kind—counterfeits of those you might normally see in town like ‘Fins Up’ or ‘Take the Bait, Vote for Tate’ or ‘Delbert’s Dead’ or ‘A Hood for Governor.’ They put a sticker on everyone’s back that they can—it’s easy in a crowd like this. At the end of the day they count the stickers they have left, subtract that from the number they started with, and violà! There’s your crowd size.”

The Sheik interjected dismissively. “Y’all are too worried about something you can’t do. You can’t get a good estimate. You just can’t. And if you could, what’s it gonna matter anyway? So I just go with the Hindenburg Method.”

“The Hindenburg Method?” we asked.

“Yeah,” said the Sheik. “Leon! Hold my beer and watch this.”

With that he handed his beer to my good friend Leon, an inciteful man, stood facing the crowd below, raised his arms and yelled, “Oh, the humanity! Oh, the Humanity!” Then he took his beer back from Leon, sat down, and said, “And that’s how I do it.”

King Cobra was making his rounds but had stopped to eavesdrop on our discussion. “Let me first say that I don’t know exactly how they do it, but I can tell you how I think it outta be done.” King Cobra leaned in as if this were some kind of top-secret plan. We sat on the edges of our chairs and cocked our ears towards him. “I think they should use Donald Digits.” We quizzically shifted our eyes to each other, then leaned in a little more. “That’s the method President T-rump used to estimate the size of the crowd at his inauguration. He looked out over the crowd and saw that there were about 600,000 people at the most. Then he multiplied that by four and came up with 2.4 million. I think we should run with that. Yep. Donald Digits is the way to go.” With that he laughed and left while we hooted and howled until our drinks shot out of our noses.

“So nobody’s really got a good idea of how to even get a ballpark figure of how many were here,” I said.

Leon’s main squeeze, No Account Addie, spoke up. “It’s impossible to get a ballpark figure, Randy. You should know that. You can only get a ballpark figure in a ballpark.”

Guess I’ll never know how they do it.

And that’s the view from The Balcony.

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