[Babble] Waiting On Line

*shakes cane in the air* “You kids have no idea how easy you have it today. When I was young I had to walk to school. Uphill. Both ways.”

I’m not really that old, I took the bus to school, but kids do have it easy today. Someone recently complained that they had wasted 30 minutes trying to get concert tickets online. The show ended up selling out. They were upset that, by time they finally broke through the traffic on the website, they received a message that tickets were no longer available.

Boo hoo. Cry me a river. I told her it could have been worse; she could have waited on a line all night just to get shut out five minutes after the tickets went on sale. She stared at me blankly.

I then realized today’s generation will never know what it was like to wait on line for concert tickets. That’s a shame. Growing up it was a rite of passage; you didn’t go to a concert without getting up at 2:00 AM on a Saturday morning hoping to be the first on line. Or, even better, second on line; first on line never got the best seats. (Second always got a few rows or sections closer than the first tickets spit out by the computer.)

Even scalpers had to work to make a living. They had to wait on line just like everyone else. Bottom line was; everyone knew you were a serious music fan if you braved the ticket line. But, just like the internet, you weren’t guaranteed tickets.

(Using the phone system back then was only an option when you knew the line would be out of control. No way was I waiting online for Lollapalooza ’92 tickets. I even called Ticketmaster’s NJ extension knowing that the NY line would be jammed up. I knew all the tricks.)

I’ve waited on line for several shows. I even wrote a short story about the 18 hour Bruce Springsteen line I waited on with friends. I don’t even like Bruce. If that doesn’t say “friendship”, I don’t know what does. I’ve physically pushed a friend to the front of an unorganized crowd and through the open door for U2 tickets. My high school’s very own Mike Damone (Google him) had mad respect for my prowess on the ticket line.

If not for a Def Leppard/Queensryche ticket line in the early 90’s, I wouldn’t have many of the friends I have today. That line set off a chain of events that led to hookups, breakups, marriages, births, loss and a lot of life lived!

My friends and I once waited on a line for Bon Jovi tickets, overnight in -7 degree temperatures, only to be shut out before we reached the door. We were 7th online outside of the local Record World. That was our nearest Ticketmaster location. We should have scored tickets.

If you were within the first 10 people you could relax. There was no worrying that the show would sell out. If you were 11th online or after, good luck to ya, chances are the show sold out by time you reached the door.

It was so cold out that, when we spilled our hot chocolate on the sidewalk, it immediately froze. We all had on multiple pairs of socks, scarves, gloves, jackets and pants. One friend drove her car around all night with the heat blasting.

Everyone took a turn going for a ride to warm up. A few of us even went back to her house and fell asleep in front of the fireplace. Yes, we abandoned our comrades in the elements. Don’t judge us, it was freaking cold!

When it was time for the doors to open, the employees announced they were going to let two people in at a time. The first two people went in. The first two people came out. Then came the announcement that the show was sold out.

To say that chaos erupted would be a gross understatement. There was pushing and shoving and threats of window smashing. The cops arrived and one friend proceeded to scream so loudly, that they eventually threatened her with arrest if she didn’t calm down. I believe the officer told her: “If you don’t stop yelling at me I will arrest you.”

We later learned the employees had purchased tickets before opening the doors to the line. We all called and lodged official complaints with Ticketmaster. A few weeks later, that Record World would have the same issue with a Bruce Springsteen line. Shortly after, Ticketmaster pulled out of that location. It was a small but important victory.

We may not have gotten tickets that day but we all had fun. We had fun talking to other fans. There were sing-alongs and traded junk food. There was a Best Blanket Contest. We shared Bon Jovi stories and discussed love, life and music.

While the digital age has made it easier to procure tickets, it has stripped away all anticipation. Sure, it’s quicker to buy tickets over the internet. You don’t even need to get dressed. You can purchase them in your underwear and go right back to sleep. (Not that I have ever done that.)

For instant gratification, you can even receive them digitally and print them out at home. No more checking the mail every day. No more carefully opening the envelope and delicately lifting the tickets out; spreading them out in front of you so you can gaze upon them. No more mementos to put in a scrapbook.

Sadly, I haven’t added a ticket to that scrapbook in years. I usually print them myself now. The only physical tickets I’ve received for recent concerts belong to Nine Inch Nails. They have my name on them.

As for the scrapbook, it holds a special place in my heart. I flip though it every now and then. It contains ticket stubs for the seven Bon Jovi shows I attended in high school and the first Guns and Roses show in NYC; where we waited to make sure we got front row. We met the band that day. Except for Axl, he was late as usual. Then there’s the ticket from my first concert and first ticket line ever: Ratt and Bon Jovi. Each ticket has its own unique story.

Those are memories I wouldn’t trade for anything. Here is the ticket from my first ticket line! Check out the price and service charge!


6 thoughts on “[Babble] Waiting On Line”

  1. You should write a story based on that anecdote. You could make it kind of retro- John Hughs.

    I never did the concert going thing. I was a nerd living in rural Florida in high school, broke in college, and went to one Black Crows concert with an ex-boyfriend and his friends. The only pop music concert I’very been to since was a Neon Trees concert at Six Flags Great Adventure right after a hurricane. It was empty, and we were RIGHT up front. 😀 But I remember life before the internet.

    1. They really don’t have patience. I have to admit I like instant gratification sometimes. The internet and computers have made things easier but it has also created this generation of entitlement.

  2. Thanks for the reminder of this rites of passage. There were times I waited on line, overnight, in the freezing cold, heat, and had no intention of attending the concert. Oh! those were the days… hanging out with friends. Sometimes, I miss my youth.

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