Where slacking is a sport, reading an addiction, and underachievement a birthright

Archive for August, 2008

Waiting in Line-A History

I’ve often said ‘There are people who are born to lead, and there are people who are born to wait in line,’ and I believe it’s in my genetic coding to be among the former. However, it appears that the line itself is making a comeback.

I watched the line and its meaning dissolve in 1990 in Boulder, CO.  Prior to that date, people would start ‘lining up’ for just about anything,  usually concert tickets (OK, Grateful Dead concert tickets).  They had such devoted followers that being in line for a few days became a party unto itself.  Coming out of the 70’s, some bands were HUGE, and stadiums filled with people would sell out in minutes.  You had better be in that line.

However, in an attempt to curb people camping out, and to keep order for those days leading up to the on sale date, the main record store in Boulder first tried this:  If you were in line the night before the ticket went on sale, you’d be given a number based on their allotment, and if you got a number, you were guaranteed a ticket.  Perhaps it wasn’t the best ticket, but at the very least, you were IN.  Then, if there were people who didn’t get numbers from the day before or just decided to wait, if any tickets were left, they’d swoop in on like vultures once all the ‘guaranteed’ ones were sold.

The day the line died (funny that-the music died with Don McLean’s song in 1972, but the line seemed to survive) we can thank our friends at Ticketmaster.  Not only could you NOT wait the night before and have bestowed upon you a ticket guaranteeing you will get what you want the next day, you couldn’t even try to make a nice new line right then and there-on the day of the show-so if you got there at 4 a.m., you’d at least be rewarded for getting up so damn early.

It was the RANDOM numbering system.  This was done, of course, to discourage people from loitering around the ticket place and taking up space.  NOW, it didn’t matter if you got there at 4:36 am or 9:52 am (most Ticketmaster ticket sales begin exactly at 10:00 am), the numbers were distributed randomly.  Once the numbers were handed out, everyone had to change their positions in line based on whatever number they got.  You could have waited there for four hours and get pushed all the way to the end of the line, or you could have traipsed in at the last moment and be standing with ticket #1 (and everyone else hating you).  With no advantage to coming sooner, the line died….almost.

Oddly enough, the people who are now pining in lines are those who are waiting for the release of some GADGET.  And for some reason, since this seems to be outside the auspices of TicketMaster…so far.  Here you CAN wait all day, and you will be given a number corresponding to when you got there to hold what’s promised for you.  You can’t camp, you have to leave when the mall closes, but you can sit in one place for days on end…waiting in line

People are waiting in line so they can BUY something?  Eh? What happens three months down the road when everyone you know has the same thing?  Ooooh, is the dude’s phone, for example,  sooo much better because he waited in a line for hours and hours to purchase it on the first day, and this other girl spent five minutes and got the same thing three days ago?  Did they add some ‘secret’ extra features for the ones who demonstrated their devotion so openly?  I doubt it.

It’s kind of sad, really, that THAT’S what kids are waiting for these days.  The days of nervously hoping that you’ll get in before tickets sell out, or before the GOOD seats sell out are gone; now it’s just another line to wait in…