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I Waited in a Line for 3 Hours at Comic-Con Just to Buy a Sweatshirt

Michael Douglas, Marvel Booth, Comic-Con Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

If you don't know what Comic-Con is, Comic-Con is this: Waiting in a line to get into a line to get into another line to maybe see a panel, or something. I traveled to the beautiful beachside city of San Diego this past weekend to attend Comic-Con (for work, not pleasure) and while there, heard tale of people who got in line for Marvel's Hall H panel on Saturday at 11:00 p.m. on Friday. And, after 19 hours of waiting in that line, did not get into Hall H. I do not like anything in this world enough to wait in line for 19 hours.

Apparently, I do want a Marvel sweatshirt enough to wait in line for three hours.

Here are a few notes I feel I should mention: I love Marvel. I attended that Marvel Hall H panel and was so HYPHY ON MARVEL afterwards that I wanted (needed) to buy something (anything) to show (prove) my love. But Marvel's panel got out at 7:05 p.m. and the Comic-Con floor close at 7:00. I reasoned that if I got to the convention center right when it opened the next day (9:30 a.m.), I could pop in, pop out, and be on the road by 10:00 a.m. I was naïve.

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10:17 a.m. Instead of calling an Uber from my hotel, I think it will be faster to drive my car and park somewhere close to the convention center (there has to be a parking spot somewhere) so that I can start the trek back to L.A. right away. After somewhere between 30 and 40 minutes of circling the Gaslamp District, I curse loudly in my car and realize this was a very bad decision. I drive far enough in the opposite direction of the convention center that I find a spot and call an Uber.

10:28 a.m. My Uber driver, a jolly, older gay man named Steve, tells me to, "Have fun in there." I am mildly offended, but hide it well. I am here for work, not pleasure. I know exactly where the Marvel booth is. I will walk up, exchange my money for their wares, and leave forever (or until next year). "Oh, I'm only going in for a minute but thank you," I respond.

10:31 a.m. I arrive at the convention center floor. The Comic-Con floor is like if the website io9 come to life: Hundreds of sci-fi and fantasy booths arranged into rows, tables peddling comic books and toys for kids and toys for adults (like action figures, not sex toys—but at Comic-Con 2012, I called them action figures and was yelled at, like actually yelled at, by an employee of a major film studio). People are dressed up in costumes or stopping in the middle of a walkway without warning in order to take pictures of the people who are dressed up. It is hell. 

10:35 a.m. I walk up to the Marvel merchandise booth and see there is a line that wraps around the corner. I follow it. It goes for 100 yards. I follow it. It goes around another corner and on for another 200 yards. I follow it. It goes around a third corner and ends. 

10:37 a.m. There is a man in a backpack with a stuffed Rocket perched on a shoulder holding a sign that says, "LAST IN LINE" and underneath it "'Nuff said." Still, I ask, "Is this the end of the line?" He says, "Yes." I try to take my place behind him. "But it's capped," he says. A security guard next to him nods. I don't point out that "LAST IN LINE" guy has clearly already bought Marvel merchandise (i.e. that raccoon) and is thus being quite selfish. "Do you want me to hold that sign for a bit?" the security guard asks. "No, it's OK. I work a job where I have to lift heavy things a lot." I walk away.

10:40 a.m. A makeshift line is forming a few feet away from "LAST IN LINE" guy, pretending to take pictures of the spaceship from Guardians of the Galaxy, but really they are forming a second line for when the real line is uncapped. A lady says, "If someone yells at us, we'll just say we are taking pictures of this spaceship." A security guard does yell. Everyone moves 10 feet across the aisle and reforms the pack, to wait.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Comic-Con E! Online

10:45 a.m. Another security guard yells at this newly formed pack, telling them to keep walking. I begin walking in circles, pretending to look at other booths but then feeling bad when people working those booths think I'm actually interested. I assume the line will be uncapped momentarily. After all, we are actively trying to GIVE MARVEL OUR MONEY. How long can a line really remain capped. 

10:53 a.m. I am literally walking in circles. I decide if the line is not uncapped by 11:15, f--k it.

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10:59 a.m. SUDDENLY there is a rush towards the line. I didn't see anything or hear anything, but I jump in the people mush nonetheless. I move quickly and mercilessly. It all takes place in about five seconds and then a bigger guy in a MARVEL T-shirt yells that the line is capped again. I am in the line.

11:00 a.m. Two men in their early to mid-30s and who did not make it into the line argue with a security guard that they were first in the makeshift line. The security guard does not help them (because first rule of the makeshift line: You do not talk about the makeshift line). Other Non-Liners begin to negotiate with us Liners to buy them products when we get to the front. I make it clear that I will not take anyone's credit card or cash. I will not buy anyone anything. I am not in this line to make friends.

11:05 a.m. The first Non-Liners cut. Two girls, one in her early 20s but with grey hair (possibly dyed?) and the other, an Asian girl in glasses. They seem friendly with the people they cut, and say they waited for the line to start moving to jump in so that no one would notice. I noticed. But I do not say anything.

11:06 a.m. The line has moved 10 feet. I check my Twitter, Instagram, and my email.

11:11 a.m. I check my email again. Maybe something new came in the last 5 minutes. 

11:12 a.m. I try to delete an email but my phone keeps bouncing it back into the inbox.

11:13 a.m. I try to delete the email again.

11:18 a.m. I overhear a pleading wife say to her husband, apologetically, "I knew it was a costume, I just couldn't tell if it was the mustache was fake, too. I don't think that's rude."

11:19 a.m. I try to delete the email again.

11: 25 a.m. A new makeshift line forms across the aisle. An overzealous security guard who is missing his two front teeth (my favorite security guard) shouts, "I will shut this entire Comic-Con down. I don't CARE."

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11:27 a.m. A Marvel employee walks down the line with a cardboard box and hands out bouncy balls that look like eyeballs. I graciously refuse, but spend the next few minutes wondering why Marvel has bouncy balls that look like eyeballs. Is it supposed to be Nick Fury's missing eyeball? I do not know. I do not find out.

11:33 a.m. Another Marvel employee walks down the line and says, "If you wanted to buy the Captain America hoodie, just know that we're sold out of small, medium, and large. We've only got XL and up." I was wanting to buy the Captain America hoodie—a navy blue zip-up with a star on the front and his shield on the back—but I will have to reassess now. I am not an XL.

11:34 a.m. The eyeballs bouncy ball guy returns with another cardboard box. He says it's only for "his people in line" and it's "for waiting so patiently." I do not know what is in the box, but this time I accept. I've been very patient and also I've been in this f--king line for half an hour and have moved 100 yards. I've earned it. Turns out, it is a reversible coozie with Steve Rogers on the outside and Captain America on the inside.

Comic-Con E! Online

11:36 a.m. The grey-haired girl eyes me and asks if I want to trade for her Spider-Man coozie. Swap a Captain America for a Spider-Man? She is a line cutter and she is crazy. (Still cannot tell if hair is dyed or naturally grey.)

11:37 a.m. I text my boyfriend, "Should I buy a $100 hoodie if I have to get XL haha what am I dooooing"

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11:48 a.m. We have arrived at the second corner, where a green screen photo booth is set up (they take your photo and green screen you into the Guardians of the Galaxy lineup). Our line wraps around the photo setup, with a break for people who want to walk in and get their photo to pass through. A couple—a red-haired woman (NOT naturally red) and her boyfriend, who is wearing some sort of furry sash—ask the photographer where they wait in line to do the photo booth. He says to just walk in. The woman walks in and her boyfriend waits to the side, next to our line. The boy behind me, early 20s with a sheep mask dangling around his neck and acne on his face, gets very upset and begins accusing them of cutting. "We're not trying to cut, we just want to get out picture taken," the red-haired (but not naturally red haired) woman says. "Y-YOU CAN'T CUT ME I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR A LONG TIME" the acne sheep shouts back. They repeat this exchange three more times before the woman snaps, "Calm down, asshole" and leaves.

11:49 a.m. If you ask me, I do not think they were trying to cut.

11:55 a.m. Acne Sheep spends five minutes trying to wave over a security guard. "Can you please make sure no one tries to cut me." He demands of one. The security guard says he is keeping an eye on the line, but if there is an issue, to try to figure it out amongst themselves. Acne Sheep is not pleased with this approach to crowd control and moves uncomfortably close to me.

12:08 p.m. I notice someone actually did cut in line, but behind Acne Sheep. They pulled off the same maneuver that Acne Sheep thought the other couple was trying to pull, and far less subtle too. They got their picture taken and then just merged into the line. Since they are behind him, Acne Sheep either does not know or does not care. He is not against line cutting, just against cuts that are made to the line in front of him. He is not an advocate for the line.

12:32 p.m. I am now 30 yards from the final corner. I have been in this line for two hours, which is an hour and 55 minutes longer than I expected this event to take. On my phone, I read how a woman was hit by a car driven by a deaf man during a zombie walk and the zombies jumped on the car and scared the deaf man's two deaf kids. I think, Comic-Con is full of misery. Neither the woman who was hit and run nor I deserve this.

12:40 p.m. The kid in front of me asks, "What are you going to buy?" It takes me a minute to realize he is talking to me. I haven't talked to a human being in 66 minutes. "What?" I ask. "What are you going to buy?" he asks. I respond, "Depends what they have when we get there." But he no longer cares and is trying to take a picture of a passing Spider-Man cosplayer. I did not even get the chance to ask him what he was going to buy. I am desperate for human contact. In a sea of so many people, I feel so alone.

12:41 p.m. I see the "LAST IN LINE 'Nuff Said" guy again. I'm happy to see someone I recognize. He is as close to a friend as I have here. I consider him family.

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12:46 p.m. The kid and one of his friends, who is dressed like Merida from Brave, talk to me again. I tell them about the footage showed during the Marvel panel. My soul feels momentarily overjoyed again because DUDE, THAT FOOTAGE WAS AWESOME. (If you have not read my recap, you can do so it here. But even that does not truly convey how truly awesome it was. You had to be there. Truly sorry ‘bout it!)

12:48 p.m. There is a poster of Star-Lord hanging on the wall. I think to myself that he has great hair, for a comic book character. Even though my phone only has 6 percent battery life, I Google "Chris Pratt," because I cannot remember what his hair looks like. I laugh not-out-loud at how thirsty the Google page for Chris Pratt is:

Google Chris Pratt Google

12:52 p.m. I don't remember my life before I got in this line. This is the infinity line.

12:58 p.m. I see two women dressed up as sexy angels aliens posing for pictures. I remember that the night before, a coworker told me that apparently a bunch of prostitutes come to Comic-Con in costume to entice the nerds. Another coworker suggested Comic-Con would make a killing if they set up massage chairs and had attractive women in costumes man them. I wonder if these sexy angel aliens are prostitutes. I wonder if they give good massages.

12:59 p.m. There is now red carpet under my feet, not the run-down brown of the convention center. I have reached the Marvel merchandise booth. There is about 20 feet between me and the cashier. I was born in this line. I was raised in this line. This line is my family. I will die in this line.

1:00 p.m. You know how some people don't like going by ledges, because they're scared they are going to jump? I momentarily consider just leaving.

1:11 p.m. Like a beacon of hope, I see a baby dressed as Thor. You have never seen anything in your life more adorable than a baby dressed as Thor. I see the baby Thor savior and I remain. 

[Note: I did some light Twitter searching while writing this and THIS IS HIM! CUTE!!!]

1:17 p.m. "Oh huh, we've been in this line for three hours." The kid in front of me mentions, off hand. It is not a big deal to him. It is not a corner. It does not annoy him or sadden him or make him mad. It just is. I do not belong here. I am old and weak and weary. I would not last in a 19-hour line, neither physically or mentally. I am not of the Comic-Conners. I am here for work, not pleasure.

1:24 p.m. It is my turn. I walk up to the counter and a woman with kind eyes asks how I am. I say "good," because she would not understand. She asks what I would like and I say a hoodie (not a Captain America hoodie, which they only have in 2XL now, but Star-Lord). She says, "Is that all?" and I say "Yes."

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