Lines are a rite of passage

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, January 24, 2013

As I drove by the not-yet-opened Chick-fil-A on Wednesday to see the sea of tents set up in the parking lot, I shook my head.

What would possess anyone to camp out all day/night for free chicken sandwiches?

But then, I remembered there have been things I too have waited in extreme lines for. The first being in 1999.

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While I wasn’t the first in line, I wasn’t the last and that was all that mattered. It was the opening night of Star Wars Episode 1 in Troy. I remember one guy had been out there for days with his television and VCR plugged into an extension cord running from Continental Cinemas 5. He watched Episodes 4, 5 and 6 on repeat until they finally opened the theater doors on the big night.

I joined in the line-up on opening night afternoon. Don’t tell, but I think I skipped some classes.

I was number 18 in line. We were told each person could purchase seven tickets. I did the math and, at number 18, I wasn’t getting in the theater.

That’s when I recognized someone further up who was only purchasing two tickets and pulled the, “Hey, we were in 4-H together in Covington County” card.

He bought our tickets with no trouble. But until that time, the group that gathered huddled under tarps held above our heads with umbrellas as the bottom dropped out of the clouds. We ate soggy delivery pizza my aunt and uncle got us (thanks, guys!) and watched the small TV on Star Wars repeat until the theater opened.

Fast forward about five years later to Thanksgiving night. I was a beat reporter in Destin, Fla. who didn’t own a computer, let alone a laptop with wireless access to make my job easier while I covered late night council meetings.

There it was in a Black Friday sale paper – a Toshiba laptop for $199 at Circuit City. It had to be mine.

I thought, “No one is going to be crazy enough to line up for that tonight.” Then, we watched the 10 p.m. news out of Pensacola where there was already a line forming for the very item I wanted.

My mom was visiting for the holiday and we jumped in the car and headed to the store. There were already seven people in line. They’d been told there were only 15 laptops to be sold at the sale price.


Mom jumped in line while I rushed back to the house for sleeping bags and coats and snacks, and…

At least six hours later, with a runny nose cold bottom from sitting on the frigid concrete, I walked inside the store to claim my prize. Seven years later, I still have that laptop. It’s slow. I rarely use it, but I just can’t seem to part with it.

So, maybe the rush of joining in others waiting for an event or sought-after item is part of the rite of passage for humans. So, Chick-fil-A diehards, I salute your stamina and passion over the last couple of days. But I doubt you’ll have your chicken sandwich seven years from now, and if you do…ewww.