September 25, 2002

The Great Wait…

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This past weekend, hundreds of Cornell students took part in the line to buy season tickets for the men’s hockey team. Included among them were the Sun Sports Staff Writers Owen Bochner and Mike Pandolfini. Owen, Mike and their group of eight others spent much of last week preparing a plan for manning the line, involving a rotation system that required that only two of four people be on the line before the line numbers were distributed and only two would be on the line after the numbers were distributed.

The plan ran into some difficulty, but the experience of the weekend was largely as the group expected … interesting. Here are some of the things that the group experienced over its 34-hour adventure.

Mike, who was finished with classes at 1:00, led the first team of line-waiters. We begin our saga with his account from that point.


1:00 p.m. I arrive at what is to become the line before the real line. Currently, this “line” is made up of four people sitting around with sleeping bags outside the Biotechnology building.

3:30 p.m. After discovering that Gene Nighman was the man to talk to, I quickly found out that any thoughts of rotating with other people (in other words, logical ideas) were doomed. I mentally prepared myself for a 24 hour stint on the floor.

3:35 p.m. People around me began to chant “Harvard sucks.” I think there should be a rule that says you can’t chant any Cornell cheers until the season starts. Harvard sucks, but they’re not going to hear it all the way in Cambridge. I promise.

4:00 p.m. Nighman and two Cornell cops start ushering people onto the real line from “the line before the line.” The ushering is random, and is only based on who was near the front of “the line before the line,” and not on who arrived first. I notice that I have ended up far closer to the front of the line than many people who had been there the night before. Congratulations Cornell, your new line system still sucks.

Appropriate quote: Sophomore Ben Kennedy says, “They should let people line up when they want. I’m ahead of people who were here yesterday. Is this really going to be in the paper?” Uh huh.

4:15 p.m. I sent Owen, who was not on the line with us, to pick up food for me. At this point, I noticed that there was a dog on the line that was already getting on my nerves. Is it really necessary to draw attention to yourself by bringing an animal into a group of 900 people?

6:00 p.m. I got my food. Owen also brought me a chair from my apartment. My mood improved.

8:00 p.m. The ropes that separated the people on the line from the commoners were removed. I almost shot myself after realizing that entire fraternities were making their way to the front of the line to watch a movie on someone’s portable projection screen. Nighman had lost all control. It’s a good thing that Cornell students are typically far too scared to try and break rules.

8:50 p.m. Owen goes around with news reporter Chris Mitchell while Chris interviews people. They talk with sophomore CJ Minchoff, the person who’s first on line.

Chris asked CJ which seats he and his friends would pick, he said, “Section B. Front row on the glass so we can see every hit and the blood splattering against the glass. Just soak in Big Red Hockey.”

There are some truly insane people out there. But we love them anyway.

Oh by the way, CJ was one of the people with a portable projection screen causing people to cut the line.

10:00 p.m. We moved inside the Ramin Room. My group set up an unnecessarily massive camp despite having only five people in our party. This was done out of bitterness and exhaustion.

10:30 p.m. We got our line numbers early! I giggled out of joy for about ten minutes after our group received numbers 35-39.

11:00 p.m. Since we were FINALLY allowed to leave due to receipt of the line numbers, my friend Will and I headed home to eat Gushers and wash our dirty, dirty faces.


12:00 a.m. I called the group’s rotation buddies to inform them that they could come and start their shift tomorrow morning. This led to an argument over why they had to stay all day on Saturday. After I bitterly screamed at them for several minutes, they caved. It just shows you what being on a line can do to you after 11 hours.

1:50 a.m. We were given yet another rousing rendition of the alma mater. At 2:00 a.m. AT 2 FREAKING A.M.! WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE? All sitting on the hockey line and no hockey makes Mike go crazy.

2:00 a.m. I tried to go to sleep. This failed due to an inordinate number of morons playing football and Frisbee. I didn’t realize that being in a gym meant you had to play sports, despite the hundreds of people around you wishing you would stop. All semblance of order was gone.

Note: At this point, it was about 94 degrees in the Ramin Room.

3:00 a.m. I put a pillow over my head and fell asleep.

4:00 a.m. I woke up to yet another round of cheering, this time because Nighman lowered the Ramin Room’s lights. My urge to kill returned.

8:00 a.m. I woke up to the sweet voices of friends taking over for the day. I left the Ramin Room as fast as was humanly possible. Looking back, it wasn’t so bad. I’m glad that Cornell turned an overnight process into a confusing mess. I mean, sure, they could have let us go when they gave us our line numbers, but then again, why make things easy when you can waste everyone’s time? How about this: next year, we all line up whenever we want, allowing those who got there first to BE FIRST, and when we’re given our line numbers, we can leave! Ah, one can only dream…

At this point, Mike’s night-shift team left and Owen’s day-shift team arrived. We pick up the narrative with Owen, at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday.

7:00 a.m. My alarm went off so that I could get up and bring food to my friends who had camped out in the Ramin Room overnight. Unfortunately, I ignored it and went back to sleep.

7:37 a.m. I woke up in a panic because I had promised Mike I would get there seven minutes ago. I rushed to get into the shower and put clothes on.

8:00 a.m. Arrived, relatively on time somehow. To my relief, the night-shifters were still asleep, so they didn’t realize that I was late. Sat down in Mike’s chair, which was broken. Disappointing. Very disappointing.

Mike, in the ranting mood immediately after waking up, made the point as he left that there were several people there who had both PlayStation2’s and GameCubes. As if they couldn’t get through one night without both systems. He pointed out that there were several people in Cornell who don’t even have TVs for the whole year.

9:40 a.m. Nighman gets on the loudspeaker, says line check will be in 20 minutes. Everyone who was still sleeping woke up. By this time, we had already started the day shift rotation, so with three of us there, we went to the line marked 1-150, and waited until they began to check.

10:00 a.m. Line check. We passed.

10:02 a.m. Went home to eat and check e-mail. I also changed into shorts, not realizing that just because it was comfortable outside didn’t mean that it wasn’t 130 degrees inside the Ramin Room and thus not acceptable to be wearing jeans.

11:00 a.m. Returned to Ramin Room with a TV so that we could watch movies in order to occupy the time.

12:00 p.m. Line check. No one dead. I think. But Nighman does try to explain why they were holding us there all day. He said that it was better than making us stay overnight, which is true. But he could have given a better reason than that. Oh well.

Line numbers 328 and 333 didn’t go to the line check. I’m pretty sure they were kicked out.

12:45 p.m. People start to line up to pay. Mike’s team returns because line numbers have their nam
es on it.

12:50 p.m. A Harvard Sucks cheer. Cambridge is 6 hours away. THEY CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!

1:15 p.m. Paid for 10 tickets. Bought 5 “did my time in the line” shirts. Yeah, those same shirts I looked down upon in scorn as Nighman walked up and down the line yesterday wearing one. We are sellouts.

1:25 p.m. Mike leaves.

1:26 p.m. Pep Band arrives.

1:30 p.m. Hot Truck arrives.

1:32 p.m. Pep Band plays Davy.

1:35 p.m. I leave. As Mike said, there should not be hockey cheers before the season starts. Many people were quite excited by this. I wasn’t.

2:20 p.m. I return, brining food to fellow day-shifters.

2:45 p.m. Buddy, I mean line check. Sorry, I worked as a lifeguard at a day camp this summer. To me, the periodic checking to see if everyone is where they should be is called a buddy check…and we wanted to make sure there were no dead seven-year-olds on the bottom of the pool, not if people were cheating.

3:20 p.m. Sons of Pitches arrives to “entertain” us. I contemplate suicide.

3:45 p.m. I take my last break of the day. I go home for a little while to rest and clean the stench from sitting with 900 of my closest friends in close proximity all day from my body.

4:00 p.m. Line check. Apparently, there won’t be another one until after the women’s soccer game on nearby Berman Field.

4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Women’s soccer game. They lost. There were no line checks during the game. Mike covers women’s soccer. He didn’t go to the game. Bad Mike.

4:45 p.m. I return from my break, bringing with me Scrabble to further occupy our time.

5:00 p.m. Men’s hockey team arrives and says hello. Lots and lots of cheering. We’re busy playing Scrabble. I lost. I contemplate suicide.

5:10 p.m. The hockey team spends some time mingling with fans. I keep my head down and play Scrabble. (Kinda like the time you saw Doug Murray in Blockbuster and hid, right?) Mike! You weren’t supposed to tell anyone.

5:45 p.m. Women’s hockey team arrives and says hello. They try to sell long-sleeve t-shirts. No one seems interested.

7:35 p.m. Hot Truck leaves.

7:40 p.m. I decide I want Hot Truck. I go outside and realize it’s not there. I’m sad.

7:42 p.m. Will calls to see how we’re doing. I ask for some pizza. Will says they’ll be there in a little while.

8:30 p.m. Line check. The first since 4:00. We could have gone home. Very poor, ticket office, very poor.

Line number 32, held by a pep band member for some reason, is kicked out of the line. He would have made so much money if he tried to sell the line number.

8:45 p.m. I tag along as our fearless leader Alex Fineman interviews Andrew Keisner, the psycho who got on line at 6:00 Wednesday. I lose interest and talk to other people while the interview is going on.

9:30 p.m. Mike and Will come with my dinner (2 hours after I spoke to them) and to see how we’re doing.

10:20 p.m. One of Nighman’s minions announces that there will be another line check in 10 minutes. Sensing that this will likely be the final line check of the night, people begin to jingle their keys. Again. This is was NOT A HOCKEY GAME, IT WAS A MASS OF PEOPLE SITTING IN A ROOM. Please people, we know you’re excited and looking forward to the season, but no cheers until the season starts. Please?

10:30 p.m. Line check. Then they let us go.

11:15 p.m. I finally find a parking spot in the Collegetown garage after searching for 30 minutes. I’m now very frustrated and tired. I return to my apartment and promptly yell at my friends.


8:55 am The group again arrives at the Ramin Room. This time it’s much quieter and more controlled. We select our seats by 9:25, in the first two rows of Section B, and go home. The adventure comes to a close.

Archived article by Michael Pandolfini