We all know that really lucky guy. The one who always gets a parking spot up front. The one that finds a quarter walking in to the airport in Vegas and drops it in to a random slot machine before getting on his plane and he ends up winning a huge jackpot. The one that even seems to fail up. Buys a house and finds out the plumbing is bad so he has to dig up the back yard only to hit oil. Stops by the bar on the way home from a really lousy day at work only to end up sitting next to the most beautiful woman in the bar. Things just always work out for this guy. Life seems to throw roses at his feet as he walks by. Gifted, blessed, lucky.
This story isn’t about that guy.
This story isn’t about that guy.
He is the guy who parks at the back of the lot after circling for ages to try and find a space only to come back out and find his car has been sideswiped while he shopped. He is the guy that sits at the slot machine for two hours waiting on his delayed flight to finally leave Vegas and loses every last dime. He is the guy who sells his house at a loss right before the real estate market finally picks back up. He is the guy who gets up to use the restroom and comes back to find that not only is his seat at the bar gone, but his drink has been cleared as well. Life is full of thorns trying to snag him as he walks along. Bloodied, beaten, sad sack. Unlucky.
Her grandfather had always said, “If you see a line you should get in it.” Her father said it was the depression era mindset. Lines were for food, or jobs, or any number of things you probably needed. Lines were life back then. Now it wasn’t really necessary. But she liked the idea of it and did it anyway. If she was walking down the street and saw a line most of the time she went ahead and got in it. Because of that she had gotten in to clubs nobody had ever heard of, eaten at restaurants with wonderful food, gotten deals on phones, game systems and limited edition music. You never knew what great thing was waiting at the end of a line. And sometimes once she made it all the way to the end of the line and it was her turn she found out that she didn’t really want what she had been waiting for and just left. She never looked at it as a waste of her time though. The line itself was the thing. She had met really interesting people while waiting in line. So many stories. So many funny things. Sure some people weren’t very cool about waiting, but even they were interesting in their own way.
So it wasn’t really surprising when she ended up in this particular line. She had been out taking a walk, enjoying the late fall sunshine and saw the line ahead of her. She checked her watch and realized she had two hours before she needed to meet her family for dinner so why not? Walking towards the line she tried to size up the people waiting. What sort of line would this be? There were a lot of people holding books, OH! An author signing! Great! She loved those. She had been introduced to so many great books this way. And, honestly, she would wait in a long line just to talk about books with anyone even if there was nobody waiting at the end. Book people were always interesting.
He looked at his watch. He had already been waiting for an hour. He could only wait for another 45 minutes max before he would have to leave to have any chance of making it to work in time. But he really wanted to get his book signed. To get a chance to talk to the author that had literally changed his life. The first time he had read a Roland Gymnson short story he had had to go back and read it again right away. It was like finding the secret to life. He had gone out and bought every single thing he could get his hands on. And now he had the chance to get that first story signed. To tell Roland that he had changed his life. Made him a better man. A deeper thinker. One who didn’t ever just take the world at face value but looked for the mystery. Tried to understand that the shit sandwich he had just been handed was really an OPPORTUNITY for adventure. Not another shit sandwich in a long line of shit sandwiches which is what it honestly felt like most of the time…NO…ADVENTURE! He looked at his watch again. What could the hold up be? They were only allowed to bring one thing to be signed and if you bought the new book you could, of course, get that signed as well. He would be buying the new book. For sure. But seriously, the line needed to start moving.
“Roland Gymnson? Why is he your favorite?” she was really curious. She had, of course, heard of him. He was everywhere. He wrote books, went on talk shows, sold t-shirts with pithy little sayings on them. He was the great adventurer. Not like wilderness or skydiving or deep sea diving sort, but the day to day “life is an adventure” kind of guy. He gave advice to people on living their best lives all the time. Which she found interesting. But honestly, hadn’t really liked his books when she tried them. Maybe the new one would be better. But anyway…the guy in line with her was obviously a HUGE fan. He had a copy of the first short story Roland Gymnson had ever written and he couldn’t wait to get it signed.
“He’s just the best. I don’t even know how to explain it properly. He literally changed the way I view my life. When things go badly I don’t look to blame anyone anymore, which is what I used to do, I look for the lesson. The opportunity. The ability to turn every day in to an adventure is so needed. And, I know this sounds sexist but it’s how I really feel, I think that men especially crave that adventure. We used to be the hunters, right? And now we are all sitting behind keyboards typing away the day and part of our brains are craving that adventure. I think it’s why you see so many trolls online. They have this excess of testosterone that needs burned off because we live such dull day to day lives now. Roland Gymnson gets it. He understands.”
“Oh, okay. I get that. So how do you live an adventure every day? Do you, like, pretend that there is a saber tooth tiger following you off the subway or something?”
He really wanted to get mad at her for teasing him but her smile was so genuine that he couldn’t. She was having fun, sure, but she was having fun with him. This was the adventure.
“No, it’s not like playing pretend when we were kids, it’s about looking at the opportunities around us and making the most of them. Like right now instead of just waiting in a line we are about to change our lives. We are about to meet Roland Gymnson. We are going to get a chance to talk to the man himself. To tell him something important and have him tell us something necessary in return. See? It’s not just standing around, it’s living on the edge of a massive shift in your life.”
“Goodness, that’s a lot of pressure. I haven’t thought about what I am going to say to him after Hi. I guess I better start planning.”
He blushed a little, “I know it sounds silly, I get that. But I feel really strongly about this.” He looked at his watch again, “And I’m running out of time. If this line doesn’t speed up I will miss my shot to tell him how much his work has meant to me.”
She turned to the person behind her in line then, “Would you mind holding my place while I check how many people are ahead of us?” turning back to him, “I’ll be right back. Cross your fingers I will have good news.”
And with that she went skipping down the line of people counting them as she went. People smiling at her as she passed them. There is no way that would have happened if it had been him. They would have grumbled and groaned and accused him of trying to cut the line, but not her. She passed them all by without anyone getting upset at all. He would have to learn how to do that.
She came back to the line with a giant smile on her face, “Great news! Once we are in the door up there the line is pretty much done. So only about 20 people ahead of us. I was afraid it would be one of the Disney lines where this was the pre-line part of the line and the real line would happen inside! But I would say about a half hour more and we will be done.”
A half hour. That was going to be really tight. But he could do it. And if he was a little late for work then that would be fine. Really. As long as it was only a little. A little would be okay. He hoped.
For the next thirty minutes they talked about life adventures. They talked about other authors. They talked about everything they could fit in to 30 minutes. They laughed and told jokes and seemed like old friends instead of two random people in line next to each other. Then it was almost his turn. He could see Roland Gymnson right ahead of him. And then…
A book store employee came forward, “Mr. Gymnson needs to take a 15 minute break and will be right back to finish with the signing.”
His face fell. He couldn’t wait another 15 minutes. He was already going to be late, he couldn’t be that late and not risk getting fired and that was more adventure than he could take right now. He was devastated and then she spoke: “Mr. Gymnson, would it be okay if you did just one more signing before your break? My friend here has been waiting all morning and has to get to work. If you could sign his book before you left that would mean the world to him.”
And much to his shock, Roland Gymnson agreed. Now he was in front of his hero. The man who had changed his life. The man who taught him to look for the adventure and he was signing the book that changed his life. And he was nodding and smiling while he listened to the rambling “you changed my life” speech that he had probably heard from 200 other men waiting in line already. He couldn’t believe it. This was the best day of his life.
Three months later there was a wedding. It had been a surprise to everyone involved. Nobody had seen it coming but once the two met it was fate in motion. And it all started with a line.
As the two exchanged their own vows there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
And from that point on life would be an adventure with her husband at her side. Mrs. Roland Gymnson was ready to take on the world. And he was the luckiest man in the world to have found her. All because she told him she was only there because, “If you see a line you should get in it.”
Oh, you didn’t think she married the other guy did you? I told you, he wasn’t that guy.