We love our Lines

In Manhattan I stand in lines for everything.

The first time I had to stand in line for food, I channeled what my dad always told methought, ” Hey! That’s crazy. I am not that desperate for food.” I quickly got out and walked away. By and by, I realized that in New York, it’s a mattar of pride to stand in line and get to your destination, especially if your destination is food. You can finally say, “Have you had brunch at Clinton Street Baking Co.? It’s the best.”

In this city, we will do anything for food. I had my friend ( actually it was my cousin’s husband, but it’s just easier to say friend) give our names at Ippudo, a Japanese restaurant, on his way home from work, at 4:30 on a Friday evening. The wait was about two and half hours, which he already knew and so Ashwin and I were told we didn’t have to wait and had to arrive at the restaurant only by 7ish. We got called in to get seated at 7:30, just as we arrived at the restaurant! All four of us took pride in the fact that we got to eat at this tiny East Village restaurant that doesn’t take reservations. That too on a Friday evening.

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Waiting outside Lady M to buy Absolutely delicious but insanely expensive cake.

But food is not the only thing we stand in lines for. If there is a grand opening of a store, we will get there as early as 6 am to be the first few to get their free goodies. See, the thing is free bees in New York are a plenty, but so are the people. Besides, the stuff that is given away is great stuff. So hey why not grab it, if you have the time? When Blick, an art store was opening it’s store in Manhattan, a few years ago, I got there about half an hour early to hopefully bag some of the awesome goodies. Obviously I was no competition to an art student and a hundred and fifty other people who got there three hours before the scheduled time.

As NewYorkers we stand in line to be a part of the audience for a tv show, where have been confirmed via email. Of course they give out way more tickets than they have seats, and get us all to line up on sultry days or frigid days. And we do.

Outside a tv recording studio waiting to get checked in.

We stand in never-ending lines to checkout at a cashier to buy groceries. The Chelsea Trader Joe’s always has a meandering line all across the store with an attendant holding up a stick with a sign that reads, “line ends here”, while another one holds up, “middle of line.” To a first time shopper, this zig-zag line can be a maze, but once you get used to it, it’s pretty civil. Despite the line moving fast, I often have to make a choice on how desperately I need my groceries or if I am ok paying a few dollars more at a smaller store to save me from excruciating pain of standing in a 75-90 foot long line.

Middle of line sign at Trader Joe’s

Hamilton, the Broadway musical has had people camping outside the theater overnight hoping to be one of the blessed few to see Lin Manuel on stage. Oh! what a day it will be and what a story to tell. I have, myself stood in line for the Wednesday’s lottery, hoping to win tickets for Ashwin. What kind of crazy drives me to stand in the scotching July sun to get these tickets? Is it, saving money? The excitement of actually seeing the show? Or the story I will have to tell, years later?

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Waiting to get cancellation tickets for Hamilton.

And, I do not even want to get started on the lines outside Best Buy and Target for Thanksgiving.

But to be fair, everyone in the city is very very aware of these lines and is courteous, well mannered and polite in line. I have rarely had people cut me in line. If someone does cut the line, someone else almost always calls them out. People give one another enough space in line and do not push each other unlike on the L train on a Monday morning. Everyone lets people pass, if they want to walk to the other side or need access to a door across the queue. People are so nice in line, that I had even had a woman hold my space while pushing my grocery cart to the register, while I ran off to bring something I had forgotten to buy.

All this took getting used to, but now I have a hang of it. At least I think I do! But there are some lines that STILL get me aggravated. The lines that make me the ‘maddest’ are those for toilets. Bryant Park has the best public toilets in the city, but the longest lines to use them. I guess the reason for my anger, is that men NEVER have a line to pee. I mean, seriously! On a cold winters day, when I have had too much to drink and desperately need to go, and I have to wait behind 15 other woman to relieve yourself, it makes me just a little bit cranky!

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Best toilets at Bryant Park that come with a price. Long Lines.

But what choice do I have but to wait in line.

I am a NewYorker. I have learnt to love my lines.


My Take on NYC Lines

  1. Enjoy the lines, if you are in one. Chat with people, look around or just day dream. It’s a great time to do that.
  2. Decide what lines are worth it, before standing in one.
  3. If you are walking and see a line, don’t be shy to ask what a line is for. That could be a start to a fun conversation in itself.
  4. Decide if a line is worth your while or saving that money is worth it or is it an experience that money cannot buy.
  5. In either case, if you are not one to stand in lines, just once stand in line in New York. It’s a fun experience.


The Trader Joe’s photo is from Buzz Feed. All the rest are mine.
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2 thoughts on “We love our Lines

    1. Thanks Elaine.
      I used to get super annoyed with the lines, then I began to understand them and now I laugh at them 🙂

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