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Motherboard

The Dangers of Waiting in Line

Waiting in line is part of life. Hell, what is life but a giant, snaking line, at the end of which we all depart this mortal coil for sweet respit behind the doors to eternity--I guess that's why the Apple Store looks like heaven. Jesus, come to think...

by Sean Yeaton
Mar 16 2012, 9:06pm

Waiting in line is part of life. Hell, what is life but a giant, snaking line, at the end of which we all depart this mortal coil for sweet respit behind the doors to eternity—I guess that’s why the Apple Store looks like heaven. Jesus, come to think of it, I guess that makes all of us a mob of Adams and Eves, clamoring back to the Garden of Eden to pick fruit from the tree of knowledge (apples, omfg) before clumsily returning to our backbreaking, miserable lives. At least there are apps for that.

Today, legions of consumers around the world have been waiting in line for an iPad. Some of them might actually die or be injured trying to get one. Some of them will get an iPad, some of them won’t. Regardless, we’ve been standing in line forever, despite its incidental impact on our sanity. “A watched pot never boils,” some bone-in-nose spindoctor once spat. I disagree. A watched pot always boils, but when you’re standing there, staring at it until it does, you get really bored, then angry and then violent.

So it goes and so it has been. Let’s have a look at some of the gnarliest lines that you’d have been one unlucky duck to have wound up in.

In 2011, Rev. Ambilikile "Babu" Mwasapile, a retired pastor in Tanzania started selling some sort of herbal cocktail believed to heal any ailment. He sold the magic juice for 30 cents a cup from his home and spurred the formation of a 6,000-person, 16 mile-long line from his front door. More than 50 people died.

Just do it, whatever it takes. Even if it means stabbing someone.

In December last year, violence erupted around the United States among mobs of holiday shoppers with their hearts set on a pair of Nike Air Jordans.

Hey now! There’s plenty of time to get to the stoning of the devil ceremony, no need to crush 1,426 people to death in a stampede on your way to Mecca.

This is rich. Back in 2006, some masked thugs shot a kid who was waiting in line to buy a PlayStation 3. In defense of the thugs, the kid was going to sell the gaming console at an inflated price on eBay.

Last year in Vermont, after seminal jam band, Phish announced plans for a concert benefiting victims of Hurricane Irene, Berkenstocked fans began lining up for tickets, eventually collecting as a meandering line, twisting through Burlington, Vermont. This is simply a line I would personally never want to be stuck in. What could be worse than a serpentine sea of hippies waiting patiently in line for tickets to a Phish concert? Sounds like Hell. No one was hurt, though.

Wow. Here’s a mess of people trampling a pregnant woman at a Wal-Mart in Michigan during the whole Black Friday thing.

In 2008, the only two dudes with guns at a Toys R’ Us in Los Angeles managed to shoot each other to death, again, during typical Black Friday proceedings. This is why there are no guns allowed in lines. Trial and error, I guess. I mean, if those bottle-throwing Cleveland Browns fans hadn’t pelted a bunch of people back in 2001, there would still be glass bottles allowed at most sporting events. And then where would be?

Of course, there is the 1979 tragedy, wherein 11 people were asphyxiated in a stampede outside the Cincinnati, Ohio Coliseum before a Who concert. Many fans waited hours in miserable conditions before hearing the band perform a soundcheck (terrible call), inciting a murderous riot.

There are so many lines, dear reader. In fact, writing about lines feels a lot like standing in one, so I’m throwing in the towel. Let me know if there are some famous lines I’m missing, save the Tickle Me Elmo massacre of 1996.

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