My significant other loves South Park. I mean loves it. Having seen Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s other creation, The Book of Mormon, in New York a few years ago, I was convinced he would love that too. And so, it has always been at the back of my mind that at some point I needed to take him to see it.
As luck would have it, Melbourne was covered in advertisements announcing the arrival of the play when we first moved here. I looked into purchasing tickets as a Valentine’s gift, but they were out of my budget, so I was delighted when I learned $20 tickets were going to be released for a special preview performance. I woke up bright and early the morning tickets went on sale and made my way to the Princess Theatre box office to join what I assumed would be a modest sized line.
What follows is a run down of events and my rationale for staying as each hour went by:
Arrival: I arrived to find the line had already circled a city block and was wrapping it’s way around again. There was no way there was enough tickets for everyone. But I was already there. I had made plans to meet my significant other in the city during his lunch break. I might as well wait and see what happened.
1.5 hours in: The box office opened and the line moved pretty quickly. Maybe they’ll add an additional preview performance to accommodate the crowd, I thought.
2 hours in: The line had slowed significantly. I started talking to some people around me who had heard the first in line had arrived at 3:30 pm the previous day. I learned to never underestimate what people will do for a good deal.
3 hours in: I had a decision to make — abandon the line and meet my significant other for lunch or stay put. My acquaintances had already given up, but thankfully I had the foresight to bring a book so time had passed quickly enough. I decided I had invested enough time already — surely the pace would pick up soon — and I would stick it out.
A few more hours in: Staff from the theatre told us the $20 tickets had run out but they had made additional tickets available for $40. That was still a reasonable price and I really wanted my significant other to see the play. So I stayed.
6 hours in: I finished my book, and with this, suddenly realized I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink since morning. I also hadn’t used a bathroom, but somehow hadn’t needed to. The body does incredible things when in survival mode. After some debate, I interrupted another anti-social girl near me who was wearing headphones and asked if she would mind holding my place in line while I grabbed some food. She thankfully obliged.
7 hours in: Staff started approaching people with pieces of paper and pens. They informed us the box office was going to close at 6 pm and it was unlikely we would make it there by then but they were going to make the $40 tickets available to us online. If we wrote down our names and email address they would send us a link so we could purchase them. I was skeptical. What if they couldn’t read my writing? What if the link didn’t work? I needed to have physical tickets in my hand that day. So I stayed.
8 hours in: Everyone behind me took the email offer. I was now the last person in line.
9 hours in: My significant other joined me after completing a full day at work, which was perfect timing, as I had finally tired of playing Solitaire on my phone. (Remember Solitaire? It’s on your phone now.) He brought ice cream and chips to provide sustenance for the remainder of the wait and encouraged me to take a walk. But I was in a weird line-zone. If I left I might not be able to get back into it. So I stayed.
10 hours in: It finally (finally!) dawned on me how long I’d been in line and I question my sanity a bit. My significant other started complaining about the incompetence of theatre staff. It was funny as he’d only been waiting an hour.
11 hours in: It was well past 6 pm but the box office had remained open. I knew they wouldn’t turn us away! Apparently the line made the 6 o’clock news and a few people came by to marvel at our… dedication? … in person.
12 hours in: AT LAST! Made it to the box office. We were allowed to buy two front row tickets to any show in February, however, some days were already sold out and some only had tickets to the far left or right to the stage. It took a few minutes to pick the best option but since it had taken an unreasonably long time to get here, we took our time deciding — just as everyone had before me, I’m sure.
Photo: Jeff Busby