Don’t Get Me Started: Line Tamer

By Virge Randall

Getting through the pandemic is a day by day thing for New Yorkers going into the third month of lockdown.

Lots of us try to be cooperative. Wear masks? Sure! Plenty of us played Cowboys and Indians back in the day, and saved our bandannas.  Others prefer the medical look.  Any walk outside anywhere now looks like  breaktime from the operating theater for surgeons.

Thanks for your support, but…

I’ve never been so overwhelmed by support from fellow New Yorkers, at least in my inbox. Every local vendor, restaurant,  local elected official, NYC museum or institution I’ve ever contacted now send me email. (Even non-local scamsters are joining in.  Spam from Nigerian princes now begin with “In these challenging times, we’re here for you.  That’s why we’re happy to tell you that you have won….”)

They want me to know they’re behind me 100 percent. Times are tough but we’re all in this together…so if I want to buy a car they’ll accelerate the process. If I want insurance, they’ll add extra benefits.  They’ll double-dip their chicken to make it even crispier.  They’ll even fry their salads. They’ll put cheese in foods never before possible– all untouched by human hands. And they will deliver right to my door.

But I know all this stuff.  I know everybody delivers everything.  Delivery people think I’m the concierge, so my buzzer rings daily announcing deliveries of other peoples’ stuff.   I don’t need daily updates from anybody. It’s as if they don’t realize email is a two way operation. I can check in with them when I need to.

I may try sending them this response: “if you really want to support me, do my laundry, switch my closets, and help me rewire my stereo.”  That’s because there’s a huge list of chores that suddenly need doing right now since I”m spending so much time indoors.

The trouble with New Yorkers

Only some of it is because I have to. A lot if it is because I want to.  Too many of my fellow New Yorkers are too goddamned annoying.  (By “New Yorkers,” I mean natives who have never lived elsewhere, or who have cut hometown ties and are here for the duration; who don’t cut and run at the first or even second sign of trouble.)

So it pains me to say that the Number One annoyance are those showing a real New Yorker trait: Line Jumpers.

What’s my line?

Maneuvering for any little extra advantage is a valuable, even necessary NYC survival trait. We’ve all told bouncers the lead singer is our cousin. As long as it’s plausible, others on line will roll with it.  (In the wrong hands, it’s hilarious.  I once saw a blonde try to bluff her way into George Martin’s, a popular Yorkville bar, by saying she knew George Martin.  That’s like jumping a line at Mickey D’s by saying you know Ronald McDonald. No such person.)

Nope, the trouble starts when people try that when it’s obvious BS and people have been waiting on really long lines for a really long time for urgent needs and chores, not for a cocktail or brunch.

And they somehow manage to time it right when it’s almost my turn to enter. I don’t know how they find me.

The Endgame

The  good news is I”m more than equal to the challenge. As soon as some gal approaches the ‘bouncer” my blood pressure shoots up and I get an adrenaline rush.

I start nice.  “You know, there’s a line” I point out.  If that doesn’t work (it never does but I”m an optimist), I get louder and angrier as I do the litany:

Everybody has been here before you.

We’ve been waiting a really long time.

My time is just as important as yours.

What, you think you’re something special?

I keep gesturing behind me to invite anyone else to join in and shame the entitled bitch.  Finally I just walk in, since I’m not interested in standing outside watching the bouncer negotiate with the line jumper.  The last time it happened, I emerged from my shopping trip to see the line jumper waiting on line. Just like everyone else. I gave her a smile and a wave.

It’s amazing that there are no reported fistfights over line jumping but that civic peace is going to go down the tubes as of tomorrow, when alternate side of the street parking rules resume. It will be another indication of how New Yorkers behave – and misbehave – in a crisis.

But don’t get me started about that.


8 thoughts on “Don’t Get Me Started: Line Tamer”

  1. Great stuff. I love the imagery of the streets of NYC looking like break time at the operating theatre.

  2. Ahhh, the old ‘lead singer is our cousin’….remembering the lines at Studio and Heartbreak when it didn’t take much to get to the front of any line as a 22 year old tall girl. I even got so far as crashing Shirley Maclain’s 50th birthday party at the Limelight because a sister of a friend of a friend’s boyfriend was a bouncer who knew Chazz Palminteri, another bouncer. Thanks for the laughs and the familiar New York angst to brighten my day!

  3. Ah, the old “My sister’s friend’s cousin’s boyfriend” route. The Hapsburg’s had nothing on people trying to get in a club as far as ‘lines of succession” are concerned.

  4. “Like visiting your parents and they threw out everything in your room.” This piece that line hit me in the gut because I relate to each stop the author makes. I’m 66 too young to watch a church be built and demolished. Nativity on 2nd Ave. between third and 2nd St. Next to my LaSalle high school. 1968 to 72. I thank the author For painting clear pictures of what was with her words.

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