Get In Line

This is part 7 of 11 in the series 26 Songs.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about lines. It’s not that I didn’t know there are crazy lines in New York, although I feel like now that I have officially lived in New York for over a year in total, that lining up for things in New York have really become something personal to me. I mean, firstly, there are the lines you expect:

Of course, the most ridiculous lines of all (and yet, the one and only line that you should do in New York), is for Shakespeare in the Park. When people camp out the night before, you know it’s serious.

We got into the line at 9:00 AM. Tickets are released at 12:00 PM. When we got there, the line was about 500m long and full of people using camping equipment, sleeping bags and picnic mats. About 10 other people got into line just minutes behind us. When we got to the front of the line, we got the last tickets which were seated together.

However, there are also lines for things you don’t expect. Like grocery shopping. I don’t mean your typical Friday night or weekend checkout line rush that you typically get in a Sydney grocery store. Or just a packed grocery store in Hong Kong. It’s a crazy combination of both. Everywhere else in the world, grocery shopping is done with a list, and then going around the store to find your items. In NYC, there is an unwritten set of rules governing the process of grocery shopping:

  • On arriving at the store, get your trolley or basket, then immediately getting into the line for the checkout.
  • In order to find the end of the line, you will need to find the dedicated store attendant who is holding a large “LINE STARTS HERE” sign. The kind that’s actually on a flag pole and is bigger than the flags used by China tour bus guides.
    End of the Line sign at The Trader Joe's in Manhattan
  • Said checkout line winds its way throughout the entire store, doubling up and back on itself multiple times.
  • As you move up the line and next to a different shelf, locate the items on your shopping list and put them in your basket.
  • By the time you get to the front of the line, you’ll have grabbed everything on your list.
    only one small portion of the line at Trader Joe's

The business of waiting in line has gotten so serious that a guy has in fact turned it into a business. SOLD, Inc will wait in any line for you, for a price. It was started by a guy who used to sell phones at AT&T, then was inspired by the crazy cronut blackmarket and subsequently quit his day job to permanently wait in line. Kudos to him.

I permanently feel like my entire life has been endless waiting. And as much as I hate that feeling, I can’t help but realize that there are some things that you can’t help but resign yourself to waiting. Things like:

While I can safely say that I think I have mastered piano and auditing by now, I have a long way to go for composition. Yay to many more years of working and waiting.

Get In Line, music and lyrics by Deborah Lau.
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I'm just a girl with a piano. I'm on a quest to go from audit files to Broadway. Currently, I'm working on an as-yet untitled musical exploring identity, family, and love for second generation immigrants. In my spare time, I serve as the Secretary/Communications Director for the NYC-based Composers Collective.

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