Tag Archives: waiting on line


Sometimes I just can’t get it right. Like the other day. I went to a basketball game at the Garden with some of my family. I go pretty often, and it’s always the same deal. Get to the Garden, get through the human wall of scalpers seeing if you want tickets, meet up with whoever it is you’re meeting up with (by the stairs!) and head inside to grab some beers before the game starts.

Right before the main entrance, you have to pass through security. Again, this always follows a pattern. You have a bag? Open it up so the security guys can pretend to look through your stuff. I didn’t have a bag. There’s always one line, everybody filing up to get checked out by one security guy, even though there are like ten security guys just standing there.

You do this enough times, you know it’s coming, you stand there and hold your arms out, the security guy gives you a little pat down, and that’s that. My first mistake was probably bypassing the one line and approaching one of the several available security guys. And nobody had to ask me anything, I just stood there with my arms out, ready to go.

And this security guy must have thought to himself, “What the hell’s this guy doing, I didn’t tell him to get out that one line,” because, that’s another thing these guys like to do. They let the line get ridiculously long, and then they start berating everybody, like, “Hello? Step on down. You’re wasting time people. There’s more than one line.” But here I was, taking initiative, not waiting to be called over. On top of that, I’m automatically spreading my arms. This guy must have been thinking, “Spreading his arms? I didn’t tell him to spread his arms. Nobody spreads their arms until I tell them to. I’ll show him!”

Because instead of patting me down he just kind of stares at me for a second, me, standing there with my arms out, waiting for him to feel the outside of my pockets, my cell phone, my keys. That night I had my Kindle in my pocket. I just found out that if fits perfectly inside the front of my winter coat. I’m thinking about what I’m going to say to him when he feels it, and asks what it is, because I don’t want to automatically just say, “it’s a Kindle,” because maybe not everybody is that familiar with Kindles, but is an e-reader really a better choice of words? I don’t have time to finish the thought, because the guy shouts, “Next!” really loudly, right in my face, “Next! You’re wasting everybody’s time, buddy. Next!”

He didn’t even pat me down. And I don’t even know what to say, I’m like kind of pissed off. But as soon as he shouted, “Next!” I immediately started walking. It’s funny what your body automatically does when you’re in a certain situation. Like whenever I’m on any sort of a line I’m always operating on autopilot. So even though my mind knew something was off here, I was still blindly following orders, “Next!”

And so I’m like ten feet ahead of him, and I’m getting angry that he called me out on preemptive rule following, and so I shout out in response, “No, you’re wasting everybody’s time!” but I knew it was a stupid thing to say. I was too far ahead, I was talking over maybe five people, five other people just shuffling along, trying to get inside, nobody really wanting to deal with any of this bullshit. But it was too late, I already said it. There was no reaction from the security guard, so I just walked forward, didn’t look back, hoped the whole situation would maybe just erase itself from my consciousness.

But then my mom says to me, “What’s going on? Was he talking to you? Were you talking to him?” and I’m just like, “I don’t know, I have no idea. These security guys, always patting me down, every time, except right now, they’re terrible, just really terrible at their job.” But probably not, they probably have it all figured out. They definitely know exactly what they’re up to. And if you want to get inside, you’ve got to go through them, on their terms, their rules, their turf. Next.

My friend’s grandmother just died

Andre’s grandmother just died. We hadn’t spoken in months, but when I heard the news, I really felt like I should maybe reach out, try to offer my condolences. I didn’t want to call him up, because we always have this tendency to play phone tag and then get in fights. None of that’s really important. Not now. I figured, OK, I’ll just go to the wake. I’ll just show up and be there for him.

So I get there and there are tons of people. I’m worried that Andre’s not going to see me. And I’m not wasting a whole night at a funeral home for some lady that I’ve never even met before if Andre’s not going to know that I’m there, that I’m there for him. So I tried to grab his attention while I was on line to view the casket. I was like, “Hey! Andre! Hey!” and he looked over and kind of lifted his head in recognition, and so I thought that he saw me, that he was acknowledging my presence, but right after I stepped out of the line to go over and say hi, some lady walked right up and they shared this long, slow hug. It must have been one of his aunts or something. Was he looking at me? I thought so. Unless he was playing games with me. But I’d let this one slide, this was his night. Whatever makes him feel better, whatever lets him cope.

So then I tried to get back in line, but some other lady started giving me a hard time. “Listen lady,” I was getting really kind of annoyed here, “This isn’t the line for a roller coaster. I was waiting right here, and I thought Andre was calling me over.” And she didn’t even respond, she just looked at me all offended, like I’m the one causing the scene. So I just kept going, “Relax, all right? There’s going to be plenty of time to kneel down in front of that box.”

Still, no response. So I looked to the person behind her, clearly eavesdropping on the whole interaction, and I just kept staring at him, shaking my head in disapproval, like, can you believe this lady? But after I made eye contact with him all of the sudden he looked away, like now he wanted nothing to do with any of this. So I said to him, “What, so now you’re not interested? Don’t tell me you weren’t paying attention.”

And then that guy and the lady behind me, they kind of looked at each other, like it’s me, like I was the problem here. So I looked at both of them and said, “Fine, here you go. Please. I insist. Happy?” and I walked out of line and went to the back. No way would I have been able to stand there without getting into it. And this wasn’t about me, it wasn’t about the line. It was about Andre. It was about his dead grandma.

Still, when I got to the back of the line, I couldn’t stop thinking about those two people, were they whispering to each other? Come on, all I did was get out of the line for a second. What is this a bakery? No, not a bakery. Bakeries give you those numbers. That probably wouldn’t work out too well at a wake.

The lady in front of me at the back of the line was sobbing, really heavy sobbing. At one point she looked to me, like she wanted to maybe start a conversation, like maybe she wanted to put her head on my shoulder. But I wasn’t really feeling it, so I took out my cell phone to kill some time.

Finally, I was at the box. I knelt down. How long do I have to kneel down here for? What am I supposed to be doing? I counted to thirty and then got up. I said hi to Andre’s mom. And then Andre.

“Sorry for your loss.”

“What were praying about?”

“Right now? Just then?”

“Yeah, what did you pray for?”

“Uh, you know, I just prayed that she’s in heaven, that …”

“Of course she’s in heaven. She doesn’t need you to pray for that.”

“Right, right. I just mean that, I hope that she’s happy in heaven.”

“Of course she’s happy. She’s with my grandfather. What’s wrong with you? By the way, real classy of you, getting in a fight with my aunt, using your cell phone at a funeral home.”

So he was calling out to me before, trying to get me out of the line. Wasn’t he?

“Listen Andre, I’m trying to be the bigger person here. Is this some sort of a coping mechanism? Because if that’s the reason, fine, I’ll get past it.”

“It’s not a coping mechanism. You should be a little more respectful.”

“Respectful? Since when can’t you use a cell phone at a funeral home? It was on silent. I wasn’t talking. Look, you’re aunt’s using hers right now.”

“She’s in mourning! She’s allowed to!”

“Well I’m in mourning too. Why do you think I’m here in the first place?”

“You’re not in mourning. You’re just an asshole.”

And so I got really pissed off, and I made a move, like I was going to push him, but I stopped myself, I remembered where we were, I saw his mom standing right next to him. Still, it must have been convincing enough, because he jumped back a little and bumped into some flowers and they all fell over. And I looked around and everybody’s just looking at each other, looking down at the floor, trying not to be a part of any of this all the while shaking their heads in disapproval.