I arrived at the ticket window after idling for what seemed like hours behind a teeming mass of schoolchildren. Though I had been assured that there would be tickets waiting for me in a brown envelope, the black-eyed man at the window drearily pointed me to the Customer Service building after I refused to show him the proper documentation of sale. There was a line of people that extended through the door. I asked an enormous woman with four small children if all of these people were here to pick up their tickets. The look she shot in my direction before looking back toward the door instilled in me a suspicion that it would benefit me to be more selective with my inquiry in this place. Away in the distance, I could make out the shapes of hurried groups of people moving about the mountains of twisted steel that overlooked the grounds. Their excited shouts and the occasional ratcheting purchase of conveyor on tram were the only sounds to interrupt the quickly muffled bleating of the restless children in front of me, one of whom had taken to staring at me over his mother’s shoulder. I was forced to turn my own eyes toward the building’s bulletin board, once inside, because it was plastered with brightly colored flyers adorned with the faces of popular Warner Brothers cartoon characters. I thought I’d found one concerning lost tickets, when the line shifted and I was finally expected at the next available window. I tore the flyer from under its staples and walked down the bank of windows to a young girl in a visor who waited behind the window. I handed her the flyer, unsure of how to begin my line of questioning, and before I could utter a word, she disappeared with it through a door at the back of her enclosure. Minutes later, another door opened on my side and I was summoned to a room, in which I had a brief discussion with a manager about compensation. I’m not quite sure how things work here, but I was made to sign a contract and shown the way to an apartment in a New Orleans-style neighborhood through the gates of the park. I was confused, but also very tired, and could not resist the urge to sink into the bare mattress that lay on the floor. When I awoke, the girl from the Customer Service window was in my room, hanging my freshly washed clothes on a drying rack on the gallery outside. She showed me to where I’d be working, and assured me that we’d always be together. It was impossible not to hear the question in her voice, despite the force with which she whispered it into my neck. I can still see the groups of people rushing along the park’s concourses, and I have forgotten where I parked my car.
McSweeney's Quarterly Subscriptions
“A key barometer of the literary climate.”
—The New York Times
April 20, 2011
As little as $1 a month ($12 a year!) goes a long way towards supporting our editorial staff and contributors while keeping us ad-free. Become a McSweeney’s Internet Tendency patron today.