“But Walter there is no one here, why are you holding that sign?”
Well, someone will get here and while that happens, I will be here waiting for them. You could say I am the proprietor of this real estate at this moment. But you know how things change, once someone else stands here, we will share proprietorship.
“Walter!,” said my fiancé’s sister. “But there is no reason anyone will stand here, there is no business to line up for, no reason to go in for anything!”
“But I need to work, anyone looking for a job might see this space available and drop in here, and just take over my task.
“Walter, Walter…there is no need to hold that sign here, no one needs to know they are the last in the line, because there is nothing here to line up for.” I looked at her and smiled.
“Mrs. Daisy, everyone should feel what is to be at the end of the line, maybe someone who has never been in line could walk next to me just to line up, just to see what it feels to be the last. Then, that way they can go up the ranks, like many other people have done. But they need to be the last at some point, don’t you think so? It is an entry level position, which I am proudly holding. I am the owner of the title; I am the end of the line until someone walks by and stays.”
“Remember Mrs. Daisy , I was the -end of line- sign holder at the train station until that groggy Mr. Pio said that I Kept missing the last in line. Said that while he texted and snacked raw cod fish. Why not stand here? Someone may see my work system, ethics, and come by and hire me, I mean, unless they feel ashamed of having me just standing at the end.”
“Oh my God, you have impressed me Walter,” said Mrs. Daisy. I am about to take you a pic and post it on face book, you know, maybe someone really needs an expert like you at the end of the line. I will give you a nice review, a nice opinion about your craft.”
“Mom!” said my fiancés sister. “Are you saying Walter has a better shot if he is posted on face book live- than taking over a line here on the empty sidewalk, by himself? After all, right now there must be thousands of lines to be worked; because they are busy no one will care to search for a –sign holder- like him. This is the best way he can move up, being the last in front of all the public that goes by. If we publish him on book, he will then become a laughing matter.”
“Wait a minute", I said. “No one will laugh at this because there is a bunch of people that don’t even know where to line up, some have panic attacks when in a line. I can teach them to hold their posture. Where else can they be that last one at something. Just the thought of being at the end, the last one in line, will uplift their expectations. They know they are the last, and with that comes the responsibility to make sure no one comes in front of them. Think of it, as long as you hold that last position, it is only me who you can help you. I am a proud holder of my sign, yes! -End of line-.
Well, by this time my mother in law was over the fact that I was just standing here. It seemed to her that my entrepreneurial idea wasn’t the sort of thing baby boomers would be doing in these times. So she kept walking the sidewalk, I said bye to my sister in law, just waved at her and kept holding my sign. Then Douglass approached my post. Every day he walks by and says hi, but today he was eager to know what kind of discussion I was having with the ladies. He had seen us from the other side o the street.
“So, Walter, you still holding that sign... Here at the same spot.” I knew he wanted to know whether those ladies thought I was a russe. But little did he know that every time he passed by and said hello to me, he just made it to the end of the line, and today was the official day he was granted the spot. He was here and not just passing, he was talking to me. But don’t think Douglass is the kind of veteran you just throw a topic to, everyone around knows he was a collage professor. You bet I was scared when the veteran walked by. What kind of intervention was I facing? About my business? Was it his opinion about my plans after all that he had gone thru in life.
“Walter, you still a mess in this world. Do you know that? Go get a real job man, one that pays you for standing around.” At last, his complement transformed him in to the last in my line.
"Go look around for a place with some lines, get something going. Here you don’t get to find out who wants to control any lines bro. You know that man.”
Douglass arranged his cap, and walked away. His purple camo shirt reminded me about a Japanese restaurant I once saw it had long long lines. So after all, my sign came in handy; it reminded me were to look for a space were the public needed to know who the last in the line was. The weather got bad, and not because of Douglass walking by, it got gray and dark, so bad I had to run away with my sign.
The next day I dressed up very nice, just like I do at this time of the year. Walked out of the door hoping I encountered in “Yamasaki Hibashi”, a friendly place to work for the rest of the Christmas season. I made it to her place around the evening hours. The line was crazy, a dizzy smooth jazz was playing inside, and I just felt the empowerment it gave me to be the holder of the end of line signage. This was a no brainer for anyone. I forced my phase to the end while I remembered the lines I was giving these guests who kept lining up at the place.
“Here is the end of the line” “If you go away you will lose your spot” “You must fold your stroller before going in the restaurant’ “Alcoholic beverages from outside are not permitted” “You must wear shoes before going in line” Among many other important things customers need to be reminded of.
Once in the spot I started to work. Though I do not speak any Japanese, I knew these folks really appreciated the sign. Because they had no were to go man, and anyway, some just saw me and asked what was going on.
“You Sr. you know how much for table,” said one of the Asian customers just arriving. And right there just like a Christmas win win Rudolph, Mr.s Yamsaiki grabbed my sign and my arm at the same time.
“Come, come here…you a good man, you gentleman, come follow me”. Mrs. Yamasaki had taken me suddenly to the front of the line and it was there that I hoped to talk about the dollars I could be stashing later on. All was good while walking; all her good thoughts about me inspired me. But there was a sign at the front of the line that read:
“Karaage chicken out for the day, free Nigori sake with Udon purchase, arigato.”
I had blown this without noticing it, I should’ve had read her sign before planting mine at the end of the line. So, know I knew what the chaos was all about, all those in line were coming back for a second shot of Nigori , because words had been spreading like fire out about Mr.s Yamasakis intention. She needed to keep customers who came in looking for the Karaage. And that chunky chicken was gone by the afternoon hours and people kept lining up. The line looked like a United Nations meeting; she had a chaotic epiphany developing.
Out of Karaage and I hated to work lines with people under the influence of alcohol. I’m better of assisting strollers and grown up people. I twisted my head from side to side; Yamasaki pointed the sign at me.
“You stay here, greeter, me give you free sake, no sign at the end. You good man, you help me I take care of you.”
I was officially downgraded to the simple life of a greeter. Down the ranks, not even to the first in line but to the greeter, a translator of the senses, a job I hated to accept I did that night. I hated drunken people on lines and was ready to resign from my greeter position.
My first payment with the sake came in, it was cold and sweet like a tasty bunch of flowers I used to taste in my childhood. I got the sweet kick of it. By the second sake shot, the first in line told me that there was some trouble at the end of the line. People were mad about this sake. And all the fuzz was about the bottles from wish it came from.
“No Karaage chicken, Udon and sake good for you, you be careful with sake,” said the Asian man who smiled at me like he was holding a bone to a jumpy dog. He had this gleam in his eyes, and glossy cheeks that assured mystery and happiness. This was a victory for me though. Because I knew he recognized I was the man to be told about the happenings at the end of the line. Though I did not have the sign anymore, he could see I had the face of such an important job. To wish I responded:
“There is nothing different when you are at the end of the line, on any line, even if you don’t understand anyone around you"