Re-evaluate your expectations: this is Burning Man, not McDonalds

Many of us have expectations for speedy service with no surprises. For example, at fast food restaurants, we know how to line up, order our desired meal combination by number, and bus our own tables. In return, we get a standardized product or service delivered within minutes. For better or worse, expectations for these kinds of experiences have spread to other parts of our lives – speed dating, “quality time” with the kids or significant other, etc.*

Burning Man offers an opportunity to re-evaluate these expectations. The Burning Man organization is urging that arrivals at Burning Man respect the following guidelines regarding entry into the event. I’ve put the full item below in quotes, with my own illustrative photo inserted:

“BURNING MAN: WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE GATE

Here’s some tips on what to expect at the Gate when arriving at Black
Rock City and how to make the process go as smoothly as possible for
you:

#1. BE ON TIME
No one likes an ‘Early Emily’.

Please, do not plan to arrive, and DO NOT arrive at BRC until you are
allowed to be there. The event opens at 12:01am on MONDAY August 31st.
Showing up early may actually cause you to get into the event later
than if you show up on time. Stop somewhere and take a break if it
looks like you will arrive early rather than drive 2 hours to BRC only
to be turned around. You will save yourself a lot of frustration. IF
YOU ARRIVE BEFORE 12:01AM YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED INTO THE EVENT AND
YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO WAIT AT THE GATE.

#2. BE PREPARED.
Don’t be a ‘Disorganized Danny’.

When you roll up to the playa, have your ticket and any applicable
paperwork (copy of mutant vehicle registration, early arrival pass,
etc.) in your hand. Not your friends’ hands, not in your trunk, not in
your friend named Hans’ trunk. Be prepared to show your ticket to the
Gate volunteer as soon as you hit the gravel (heck, get it ready in
Gerlach!).

Your car will be searched at the Gate. Keep this in mind when packing
and the search will be easier for everyone, which means you get
through faster. If you have a large vehicle or a lot of stuff, we
appreciate it when you help us during the search! Read the Survival
Guide
and know what items are not allowed into BRC!

A Gate volunteer inspects an incoming vehicle and its trailer.  Polar bear = pass!
A Gate volunteer inspects an incoming vehicle and its trailer. Polar bear = pass!

#3. BE AWARE
Don’t be an ‘Uninformed Ursula’.

Buying a ticket or picking up a Will Call ticket?: stay in the FAR
RIGHT LANE on Gate Road and look for the entrance to the Will Call
Lot. Go to Will Call/Box Office, get your tickets and then get in
line. Everyone in your vehicle must have a ticket in hand when you
reach the Gate or your entire car will be turned around! Do not add an
hour (or more!) to your wait time. Don’t get searched twice! Head to
will call, get the tickets, and get in line – but don’t get in line
without all your tickets!

#4. BE REALISTIC
No one enjoys a ‘Frustrated Ferguson’.

Thousands of people arrive in the first 18 hours of opening. If you
arrive during these hours, expect a long wait at the Gate. If you want
a smoother and faster entry, consider arriving after the initial rush.
If you are going to arrive in the hours after opening, plan to enjoy
the wait. This is also true for Exodus – avoid leaving during the peak
afternoon times on Sunday and Monday if you want your best chance at a
shorter line. You have been warned!

#5. BE PATIENT
No one likes a ‘Grumpy Gateperson’, just like no one likes an ‘Angry
Allen’ or ‘Mean Mary’.

The Gate folks are VOLUNTEERS. They donate their time to help you get
in to Black Rock City! If you’re patient with them, they will be
patient with you. Remember, no one likes a ‘Dishonest Denise’ or a
“Fencehopping Freddy’. Please, be patient, play nice and wait your
turn. Cutting in line and running through fences not only makes you
lame, it will guarantee that you get into the event a LOT later than
you planned.”

Here’s my added tip for those who want to share the Burning Man spirit: gift the folks at the Gate (those who collect your tickets) and the Greeters (those who welcome you to Burning Man and provide late-breaking information) with something special. Your gift could be a heartfelt smile, a cool drink, or a handmade trinket.

* See George Ritzer’s (2004) The McDonaldization of Society. Pine Forge Press.

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