Group Dynamics of Waiting in Line (for hours and hours and hours)

As I mentioned in my previous post, And Now For Something Completely Different, we went to Las Vegas several weekends ago to attend the Fit Expo. The Mr. Olympia competition also happened during that weekend. We, because of poor planning, misinformation and a limited bank account, were not able to obtain tickets to the Mr. Olympia competition.   Instead, we decided, after a grueling 8 hours of hobnobbing with the buff and mighty ones, to go to a “meet and greet” with Kai Green, the People’s Champion.

Kai Green - 2009

Kai Green – 2009

Now for those of you not in the know, Kai Greene was actually supposed to participate in the Mr. Olympia competition this year. Everyone thought he was really going to give Phil Heath (4 time winner of the Mr. Olympia competition – now 5 time winner) a good run for his money. But it was not to be. Because at the very last minute, he pulled out of the competition. No one knew why, but the rumor mill was on overdrive as everyone speculated what the reasons might be for his abrupt departure from the competition roster.

Because of this, we had the opportunity to go meet Kai Greene during the “meet and greet” he was holding at The City Athletic Club in Las Vegas. It was scheduled to run from 5:00-7:00PM on Saturday evening. Now, I being the silly and naïve person that I am, had visions of us popping into the City Athletic Club, waiting in line for a couple of minutes, saying “Hey” to the People’s Champion, grabbing some photo ops, and then going off and gorging ourselves at The Rio buffet (supposed to be the best buffet in Las Vegas – or so my husband tells me).

Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids.Old_Trix_Box Because that is not how our Saturday evening in Las Vegas played out at all. Sorry about the length of this post. Stick with me on this one, I have a great deal to tell you.

After grabbing a “gains” meal at the TGI Fridays (the boys were presently running at a five meal deficit for the day – which was great for my wallet, but did nothing for their dispositions) we scurried over to the City Athletic Club. We were able to grab a parking space pretty much right by the front door, and we were feeling quite pleased with ourselves. That was until we saw the line of people. It snaked out of the front door to the Athletic Club and around the corner, all the down the outside of the building and down along the outside gym. The line really seemed to go on for miles. Needless to say, we were no longer pleased with ourselves. This was going to be a long night.

city athletic club

We stood in line for 5 and ½ hours. We arrived at the Athletic Club at around 5:30 and didn’t leave until a little after 11:00PM. During this time I was able to evaluate the development of group dynamics while waiting in line. Now, after an extensive Google search on group dynamics I see the most popular theory seems to be something about Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and dynamics diagram I don’t remember this theory from my days in college (but then there is a lot I don’t remember from my college days). I distinctly remember something about Acceptance and the Termination phase of group development. So I came up with my own framework and theory for group development and dynamics while standing in line. It goes something like this.  (Please play the following video while reading the rest, imagine an obligatory “Eye of the Tiger” montage in your mind’s eye.)

Assessing (politely standing in line, facing forward)

First half-hour or so of standing in line I spent looking at group in front of me. One guy with fancy suit (seemed overly dressed) with shiny shoes. He stood in line with a lady in a full length dress, who was very elegant, her make-up and nails were perfect – way overdressed compared to the rest of us. With them, were two really tall, well-built men also well-dressed and a tall, very thin, beautiful woman with 4 inch heels. They seemed important (and they smelled good). The more I looked at them, the more insignificant and grimy I felt. They seemed to be recruiting the super buff group of men in front of them.

Evaluating (politely standing in line, really studying the people in front of you)

One hour of standing in line. Suit Guy had one pant leg caught in his shoe. Tall, Thin Lady had uneven spray-on tan (but still was beautiful and perfect). Long Dress Lady maintained her poise, while continually scrolling through her telephone with her perfectly manicured nails. She had three hairs that protruded from her otherwise perfectly coiffed hair. Despite this she maintained her elegant poise. Super Tall Guys were chatting with the ladies and Suit Guy.

Dividing into sub-groups (turning to the people behind you, look for places to lean and sit)

Three hours into standing in line. Suit Guy’s pant leg still askew. Long Dress Lady still with poise. Thin, Tanned Lady still standing comfortably in 4 inch heels. We had now reached the side wall of the building and had something to lean on, which allowed us the opportunity to view the groups behind us.

Sub-group Rallying (now with well-defined sub-groups, attempting to maintain group’s position in line)

Now that the groups behind us were accessible, we started talking with a couple behind us. The husband looked very much like the red-haired Dwarf from Lord of the Rings. Super nice guy. His wife, who appeared so demure, swore like a sailor. They too were quite interested in Suit Guy, Tall Guys and both Ladies.


We now rounded the corner of the building and could see the front door to the Athletic Club. At this point, one woman in a baseball cap and work-out clothes came up to Suit Guy and Tall, Thin Lady. She obviously knew them. After speaking with them, she maintained her place in front of us, which really annoyed everyone in our sub-group. Then another lady with a Hello Kitty handbag showed up, she knew the Baseball Cap Lady and started talking with her. Hello Kitty Purse Lady maintained her place in front of us, which again annoyed the rest of us (but only for a little while).

Sub-group Defense (Sub-group is now a cohesive unit, defending against all outsiders, allowing only approved interlopers in)

We are now about 4 hours into this wait. At one point the boys had almost given up, but I said I wasn’t about to bail after having invested all of this time into this quest to meet the People’s Champion.

A very interesting thing then occurred. A guy, we assume was Kai Greene’s trainer comes out and talks to Suit Guy and one of the Tall Guys (who turns out to be Suit Guy’s partner). Suit Guy calls over Tall, Tanned Lady (who turns out to be his wife). It seems Trainer Guy thinks it is a really bad idea for Suit Guy to go in and talk to Kai Greene. Apparently Suit Guy is some kind of judge for the competition and in some way had something to do with Kai Greene not competing in Mr. Olympia this year. While all this is going on, our group and the groups behind us and in front of us mutter quietly, trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Out of nowhere, a camera crew appears and begins to interview Suit Guy and Trainer Guy. While all this is going on the line moves. We are now in front of the door. My youngest looks through the open door and groans. He notifies our group that we are not anywhere close to seeing Kai Greene and in fact the line trails around the exercise machines. The entire line moans with this news.

We move farther away from the Suit Guy, the Trainer Guy and the camera crew. We are now more focused on making it through the door.

Looking towards the goal (Objective or goal is now in reach/visible- Interlopers even more of a threat)

Our group now makes it through the door and realizes what my youngest said was quite true and not an exaggeration in the least. Here we can now get glimpses of our goal, Kai Greene. He is in a gym behind a glass window. He stops to take photos, and interviews with a camera team which we all kind of groan about because the line is not moving at all.  He seems huge.

waiting for Kai

We now have exercise machines and seats to sit on. This seems to relax our group even more. We begin exchanging information about how we ended up here. It is apparent that The Lady in the Baseball Cap and The Hello Kitty Purse Lady know each other – both are involved in swimsuit physique competitions. Everyone is getting antsy as they have missed their 5th and 6th meal of the day. We then discover they have pre-packaged, high in protein meals available for sale at the Café, and there is a well-planned (so as not to lose our place in line), but mad dash over to the Café to purchase meals and protein smoothies.

Suit Guy and one of the Tall Guys are still outside. Long Dress Lady and Tanned Lady are now primly sitting on exercise machines, busily watching the Mr. Olympia competition on their telephones. They both still look really well put together. The rest of us are looking worse for wear. Suddenly, an interloper appears from nowhere. He has somehow ingratiated himself into the line in front of Baseball Cap Lady and Hello Kitty Purse Lady. We all stare at him with daggers shooting from our eyes.

Four hours and 45 minutes into the waiting we have all come up with scenarios as to who this interloper is. I have theories that he is secretly a serial killer with a hidden room in his basement where he keeps creepy, disemboweled dolls. He looks like one of those people that could potentially go postal. He has a suspicious backpack slung over his shoulder and he stands very still, looking straight ahead, moving only his eyes. He seems super creepy. Baseball Cap lady has been glaring at him the whole time and finally can’t stand it. She has the guts to do what all the rest of us could only dream of doing. She goes up to him and say, “Where the hell did you come from? You haven’t been here this whole time, so where the f*** did you come from?” She stamps her tiny, little tanned foot with this last expletive. He demurely looks at her and says, “Sweden.” And she says, “Well, maybe you should take your Swedish A** back to the end of the line and wait your turn like the rest of us.” He says something ridiculous like “I thought this was the end of line.” We all guffaw at that.   But we leave him where he is because he seems innocuous and actually pretty nice.

Five hours and 15 minutes into the wait – My boys have now had serious, intense conversations with Baseball Cap Lady and Hello Kitty Purse Lady about bodybuilding, diet and training. It turns out Hello Kitty Purse Lady is actually 51 years old, although she doesn’t look a day over 35. She is in amazing shape. She and my boys really hit it off. I talk with Lord of the Rings man, about weightlifting, how he got into it, where he and his wife live, and their lives in their town in Utah.

We are now at the steps that lead to the gym where Kai Greene is sitting. Suit Guy has suddenly reappeared with his partner, Tall Guy and their lovely companions Long Dress Lady and Tall, Thin Lady. They take their original place back in the line in front of us. This really incenses our group and the groups behind us. Suit Guy’s pant leg is still askew (and has been for 5 hours and 15 minutes), Long Dress Lady still has three hairs out of place but otherwise looks quite elegant and unflustered by this wait. Tall, Tanned Lady’s tan is still uneven, but barely noticeable in the subdued lighting of the Athletic Club.

Waiting for Kai 2

Some jostling of the line organization begins as Suit Guy and his entourage close in on Kai Greene. The three buff men that were initially in front of Suit Guy are now directly behind them. My theory is they are there to form a well-built, muscular and solid screen so the rest of us peons can’t see the exchange that takes place between Kai Greene and Suit Guy. But they underestimate the power of our group. Because we shuffle around the “screen” to watch. Updates were sent down the line to let everyone know Kai Greene did NOT look happy while conversing with Suit Guy and his lovely wife Tall, Tan Lady. We could not hear the conversation, but it did not seem to be a friendly, relaxed conversation by any stretch of the imagination. The screen guys catch wind of what we are up to and shuffle accordingly to the right to block our only view of the encounter.

My boys finally reached their destination and both spoke with Kai Greene, and have pictures taken with him. They were really happy that they both had the opportunity to meet him and persevered with the waiting in line. The boys were really impressed with how open and friendly Kai Greene was (even after talking to people for over 6 hours straight).

Bienie with Kai Greene

My oldest with Kai Greene

Dispersing (Goal has been reached – groups are disbanded)

We said good-bye to our ‘waiting in line friends’. The boys followed Hello Kitty Purse Lady on Instagram and Twitter. We said good-bye to Lord of the Rings Man and his wife and wished them a safe trip home. We then left the City Athletic Club with our quest complete and went in search of food.

We don’t know what happened to the guy from Sweden, poof, and he was just gone. No one saw him leave.

The boys have kept in touch with Hello Kitty Purse Lady and Baseball Cap Lady. It is because of Hello Kitty Purse Lady, I am now going to the gym every single day. She has truly been an inspiration. We look forward to seeing all of them again at the Los Angeles Fit Expo in January. My goal is to be a great deal trimmer and fitter by then. More to come on that (if I can lift my hands up to the keyboard to type – oh, my aching muscles!)

Photo credits

Kai Greene –

Music videos, Kermit the Frog Interview – You Tube

City Athletic Club

18 replies »

  1. Wow, sounds like an epic queue… I thought an hour and a half to meet Terry Pratchett was long. Well done for keeping going and good luck with the gym. It is really worth persevering with.



  2. It seems the wait was worth it at the end, keeping in mind that you got those great photographs…
    Patience is a sweet fruit despite its bitter roots…
    Sending best wishes. Aquileana 🐉☀️

    • Very true about the patience thing. I never thought I would wait in line for that long to meet a bodybuilder, but I am glad I did, not only for my boys but the wait was rewarding and inspirational for me. Thanks so much for coming by!!!!

  3. Whew, what an evening! Lines, gah. But I’m glad your boys got to see someone they look up to and make a couple friends on top of it. Good luck with your on workouts!

  4. I can’t believe you managed to wait for that long. I love a story with a happy ending, though. As for people who cut in line, they should be arrested and shot at dawn.

  5. Great analysis of the whole kit and kaboodle, SD. I felt like I was there, trying not to cut in line.

    My favorite wait in a group experience came the day my dear wife Karen and I got into the Bob Barker Studio for a taping of an episode of ‘The Price Is Right.’ We got there at 1 a.m. with bag-chairs we’d just bought in Target, and were Nos. 67 and 68. All of what you detailed happened with this line as well. What personalities. The line was self-policing. We went off to find a bathroom one per sub-group. When the CBS folks finally gave out the official numbers at 6 a.m., they said everybody could leave and come back in an hour. We ate breakfast with the family from New Jersey behind us at the diner they filmed ‘Swingers’ in. The taping finally happened at 2 p.m. We got third row center seats, right behind contestants row, how the line fell. We got TV screen time every time they showed the bidding. But no, we did not get called to come on down to join Bob.

    • I b et that was fun being on the “Price Is Right”. I always wanted to be on that show. We stood in line for the “Arsenio Hall Show” for hours too, I just remembered that. Same kind of deal, the line forming into subgroups. I was surprised how tiny the studios are in real life. They look so much bigger on TV.

      • Yeah, only 300 people fit in for a taping of ‘The Price Is Right.’ That well-known fact to the regulars in the line — yes, there are many who go again and again, we discovered — led to guesses about how many groups were signed up for the day. It seems that the regular folks’ numbers are weighed to how many seats are left post-group seating. So complicated! But fun, indeed. During a commercial break, Bob Barker pointed at me and told me to howl. So I did, of course. I wondered if my beard made him think of a Wolfman?

      • My howling “Price Is Right” Friend. How funny. What a rather strange request. You are a celebrity!!!!!! The Wolfman – used to listen to him on my transistor radio on WLS out of Chicago. Those were the days!!!!!

      • Clap for the Wolfman, as Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show sang in tribute. That guy was pretty cool back then. Me, not so much of a celebrity, SD. Zero, in fact.

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