We spend a lot of our time waiting for great things to happen. And we spend a lot of time getting in line for things, people, and events that we hope will be special. In honor of this week’s GET IN LINE writing prompt, we asked our staff writers:
What is the worst or dumbest or least valuable thing you’ve ever waited in line for?
The year was 2008, a cool 5 years after the man had broken my heart to smithereens. I paid my $5 entry fee and waited in a line of people who couldn’t wait to celebrate the man I came to tell off. There would be no ambiguity when we met face to face. I had my truth to share, prepared in statement form, and then I would be on my way, ready to move on physically and emotionally.
I wore my heart on my sleeve that day, in the form of a Red Sox shirt. As the people in front of me smiled, laughed, and got their souvenirs signed, I waited, moving closer and closer. Finally, my turn. I faced my foil, looked him straight in his treacherous, betraying eyes, and said, channeling my whitest Inigo Montoya, “I am a Red Sox fan and when you hit that homerun of Tim Wakefield in October 2003, you made me cry. It was one of the worst days of my life.”
Aaron Boone, then a backup for the Washington Nationals, his status sunk so low that he was appearing at a local Health and Wellness Expo at the DC Convention Center, told me he was sorry, but it was one of the best days of his life. I turned around to show him the name “Wakefield” on the back of my t-shirt jersey, and then walked away. Closure was mine, and if nothing else, I hope I ruffled Aaron Boone’s feathers, just a bit.
The most memorable thing I’ve waited in line for? In 1990, I visited the USSR before communism fell. One morning I waited in snow showers on the icy cobbles of Red Square for more than an hour, stomping the feeling back into my frigid feet, waiting to view Lenin’s body in his military tomb at the Kremlin. It was surreal and well worth the wait; Lenin looked like he could wake at any moment.
Afterward, I made my way across the square to the famous GUM department store, which I found, unsurprisingly, to be mostly barren. I decided to brave the communist three-line system and buy something. With the three-line system, one queued up in the first line to select an item to buy; the second line to pay for it; and the third line to pick it up. All lines were like this in the USSR, whether you were buying bread or caviar. The whole process took maybe 30 minutes; it was not very crowded that day, and few could afford any luxuries sold at the GUM.
What did I buy? A hand-knit pair of woolen socks. I still have them.
It’s disheartening to say that the dumbest thing I waited in line for combines two of my favorite things: fashion and Target.
In summer 2019, Target released their 20th Anniversary Designer Capsule Collection. Missoni. Isaac Mizrahi. Lilly Pulitzer. Zac Posen. Phillip Lim. Designer pieces, all available for just slightly more expensive Target prices. What more did I need to convince me to wake up early on a Saturday? Sadly, nothing.
Expecting that everyone would feel similarly, I arrived 15 minutes before Target opened to find four cars in the parking lot. Embarrassing, but it didn’t divert me from my mission, nor the other shoppers. In the lead up to 8:00 A.M., we eyed each other from our cars, looking to see who was going to make the first move towards the door. Spoiler alert: no one did.
At 7:59 we calmly exited our cars, and walked up to the entrance, no dash to the clothing section ensued. Once there, the item I coveted most—a Missoni zig-zag cardigan—was nowhere to be seen. Now, I was awash with embarrassment. A morning of sleeping in, gone to the corporate gods. Idiot.
That’s not to say it was a complete waste. I left with a few pieces that remain among my favorites, and a serving tray that matched one of the dresses, because clearly that is something people need.
To this day, I still think about that Missoni cardigan, forever in my mind as the one that got away. #neverforget
It was the kind of line you set foot in without ever knowing how far you’d go or how long it’d take. Would it be worth it? My friends assured me yes, but baking in 87 degree direct sun, I had my doubts. The only reprieve came in the form of a storm drain tunnel, which I entered skeptically. Graffiti provided some visual interest; it was better than the backwards Astros hat on the guy in front of me. I rounded a corner only to see another mile of weary faces waiting for the same payoff as me. Finally, 90 minutes later, I had arrived: Batman The Ride.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. The slickest, fastest, best themed roller coaster can never top those experiences you have when your frontal lobe is still soft.
The only reason it was the worst thing I’ve ever gotten in line for, was because as a season(ed) pass holder next summer, I knew visiting Six Flags on a hot, crowded day was for Jokers.