The Price is Right
2007/5/13

     This is my story about when me, my wife Susan, Dawn, and Dawn's
son Shawn went to see "The Price is Right".  It's interesting to note
that the entire adventure from San Jose, California and back was only
about 36 hours.  I guess it's fair to say Dawn and Shawn's trip from
Cleveland, Ohio through San Jose was considerably longer.

     Susan's good friend Dawn had worked in the area of merchandise
purchasing, as well as run a coupon web site.  She even was on a
couple TV shows for her web site.  So it was no surprise to find out
she had very much wanted to see Bob Barker and "The Price is Right".
When Susan heard the news that Bob Barker was retiring from the show
after 35 years, Susan snagged us some of the last tickets.  We had
four tickets for a Tuesday in the upcoming year of 2007, the first
show of two that day.  Dawn and Shawn were to fly in to San Jose on
the weekend before, and we would drive down and try to get on the
show.  Apparently the tickets simply gave us a chance to get on the
show.  They always overbooked.

     Susan was swamped with her new job, so it was my job to find a
hotel.  I figured this was a critical part of the equation, because
without a hotel, it would complicate getting on the show.  So I
naturally procrastinated until it was far past any reasonable time to
plan ahead, until it was clear I should be panicking for ruining
everyone's trip.  I then dropped everything and called CBS studios and
found out what the closest hotels were.

     They said they didn't really have any ordinary hotels around.
The closest one was called, "The Farmer's Daughter".  It was supposed
to be a half a block away from the studios, and there was some talk
that they had "The Price is Right" events at the hotel.  So although
it was a little pricey, we decided to go for the complete "Price is
Right" experience.

I booked two rooms at "The Farmer's Daughter" for one night.  Dawn and
Shawn had to be back on a plane on Wednesday, so we decided driving
back after the early show shouldn't be a problem, and if it was, we'd
simply stop at another hotel out of town.

     I called the hotel and chatted with them for a while to find out
what events go on in case we had to sign up or get there early.  I
found out that a guy named "Ted" gave a talk at 10:25pm, and he knew
everything there was to know.

     That made me very happy, because that meant all I really had to
do was get us to the hotel before 10:25pm and my job was over.  In
future conversations, I planned, and in fact did, answer all questions
that "Ted" would tell us everything.  Usually that was followed up
with questions as to who Ted was, and I'd simply reply that I didn't
know.  But he'd be able to tell us everything at 10:25pm.

     One thing that made me curious was what else the girl said.  She
said Ted gave the talk *before* the show.  Now, since the talk was at
10:25pm, and the show was at 1:15pm the next day, this confused me.
So I asked what she meant by that.  Are you showing old "The Price is
Right" episodes that evening?  She said no, some folks go line up as
early as 4am.  So it's kinda before getting your tickets, before the
show.  She did reassure me that 4am was kind of extreme, and we could
still make it later.

     The documentation from the tickets said we had to jump through a
couple hoops.  We apparently had to get an order number at 8am, but
they actually hand them out at 6am.  Later we would come back and get
another number.  Then we might make it on the show.  So I figured we'd
get up early for our numbers, and have the morning to get ready for
the show.

     In the couple weeks before the show, I was of the mind set I'd
simply sit in an audience of thousands and enjoy watching the show.
Then Susan and Dawn would chat over the phone about being contestants.
That's good for them, but it made me nervous.  I really had no idea of
prices.  I made the mistake of watching the show in order to practice.
This only made things worse.

     Not only did I completely prove I knew nothing about prices, but
I started noticing that Bob Barker is a pretty intensive interrogator.
He's had 35 years of this, and he homes in on the contestants and asks
them quick questions and expects answers.  I realized I've never
really been good at describing what I do for a living.  I've always
had trouble answering where I'm from.  If I answer that I'm from
California, people usually press me for where I'm *really* from.  If I
say from Cleveland, they ask me lots of questions about Cleveland and
I eventually have to admit that I really haven't been there lately.

     Then listening to Susan and Dawn, you NEED to know your "Price is
Right" games.  I didn't remember what they were.  I mean, the last
time I was a regular viewer was some time when I was in elementary
school.  This is like the whole "forgetting to study for a test"
feeling I had in college and all those nightmares since.  Only this
time, it's on public TV.  My 15 minutes of fame...

     I comforted myself in knowing the chances of being picked were
very slim.

     I also learned that in order to be on the show, there is a belief
that you need to get some sort of interesting set of t-shirts.  So
Dawn was making us up t-shirts.  I found out our t-shirts would say,
"The Price is Right" on the front, and each of us would have a
different saying on the back relating us to our favorite Price is
Right game.  Mine was the golf game.  It said I was an expert or
something like that.  "Hole in One Champ".

     I asked Susan about this golf game, and she said it was one of
Bob's favorites.  Great!  I watched more shows on TV, and Bob
frequently asked if the players already knew how to play the games. If
they said they knew, he wouldn't explain it.  So now, if I got chosen,
I'll be playing one of Bob's favorite games as an expert, and he'll be
judging me against every other golf player, including himself, who has
ever played the game in 35 year.  He'll see my shirt and think I'm an
expert, and refuse to explain the game while I stand up there in front
of everyone not knowing what to do.  It's a whole new genre of
nightmare.

     Finally Dawn and Shawn showed up in San Jose and we hung out for
the weekend, getting ready for the drive down on Monday before the
show on Tuesday.  Susan and Dawn were pretty excited.  I was just
happy to see that Shawn had about as much interest in being on the
show as I did.

     Monday quickly arrived and I was in a grumpy mood, hoping to get
on the road sooner than we did. It would probably take us 6 hours to
get from San Jose to Los Angeles.  I was in such a hurry I decided not
to even bother with my Winter jacket, but had second thoughts and went
back for it when Susan asked me if I wanted to bring it.  Susan took
the first leg of driving and I was much happier after eating at "In
and Out Burger".  The drive and scenery, and of course company, was
very nice though.  When we got close to Hollywood, Susan navigated
from the maps I printed out, while I drove.  I guess we finally made
the hotel around 8pm or so, doing a little scenic driving, but not too
much since I was tired.

     I was happy to see the neighborhood around CBS was not a war zone
as someone unfamiliar with LA might imagine.  But it still looked very
much city like.  There were large buildings and shopping centers.  The
"Farmer's Daughter" was a building buried on the side of a 5 lane
street, between various other buildings.  There was also no where to
park outside our hotel.  So we drove around the block and pulled into
valet parking.  I though this was weird.  We were not even checked in
yet, actually not even off the street, and we give our car away to a
stranger who quickly drove it away.  Great.

     We walked from the valet parking to the hotel entrance next door
and entered the hotel.  It was reasonably OK.  The staff was friendly,
and they tried to answer our questions, but mostly deferred to "Ted",
because "Ted knew everything".  It was admittedly a catchy expression.
We did find out that the place to wait in line was across the street
and down a half a block.  So we all decided to go up to the rooms for
about an hour and meet downstairs around 9:45pm or so and check out
CBS studios and the shopping center just before Ted's talk at 10:25pm.

     Our rooms were on the second floor.  We went up the elevator,
which opened to let us walk outside again on the second floor.  Our
hotel rooms surrounded the outdoor pool.  It should have seemed very
LA, but the fact was, we were experiencing a cold spell in California,
and especially at night it was kind of chilly.  Up in San Jose, it got
close to freezing, which is why we brought our Winter jackets.

     The rooms were pretty large with nice wooden floors.  The bed
looked real comfortable.  There were odd farm animal paintings here
and there, which kind of all fit in with the whole Farm theme.  The
paintings of animals were vaguely strange because they were kind of
half way between being serious versus a cartoon.  The fact that you
couldn't tell if they were serious or cartoon, made them a third
thing: kind of scary.

     Soon we were on the way down to meet Dawn and Shawn to check out
the lay of the land.  We walked out onto the dark street.  We walked
down the street a little way and crossed at a crosswalk.  It was
something like a 5 lane road with moderate traffic for the evening.
We got across the street and could see some people standing on the
sidewalk.  I guess I had imagined waiting inside a nice building or
mall, but no, people apparently had to line up at the fence gate to
the studio parking lot.  The line started right there on the street
sidewalk next to the busy street.

     We got to the end of the line.  I guess there were maybe 30
people there, and they looked serious.  There were a bunch of college
guys at the end of the line, and they were putting up a tent!  So Dawn
started talking to them, and apparently they had been to the show a
few times already.  They said the number of people admitted into the
show was slightly random, because they had large groups of people in
each show, and those groups could get reservations.  They said if we
were in the first 50 people, we'd probably be sure to make it, but
they had made it as far back as the bus stop before.

     Well, this was our only change to make it, so Dawn turned around
and told us very seriously, that she would stay in line.  It was only
10pm, but you could tell she could not be persuaded otherwise.  And
who could argue, as we had come so far, and we could easily not make
it if we slept.  Then what followed was kind of what you'd expect in a
serious movie, around the part where people are trying to get on the
last boat off monster island.  Susan said she'd stay up with Dawn.
Shawn and I could save ourselves and sleep.  All the time I knew we'd
all be there, so I was silently looking at the bushes next to the
sidewalk wondering if there were enough leaves to keep me warm.  I
figured it would work best if we all did the whole night, taking
breaks in turn.  Dawn tried to convince Shawn to sleep, but I knew he
wouldn't either.  He volunteered to help out also.

     Next Susan took me and Shawn on a hike to the drug store.  I
wasn't too thrilled wandering the streets of LA at night, but it
wasn't a long walk to find a store.  We just had to walk past one gang
and some isolated thugs.  OK, so maybe they were just kids, but in LA
it's often hard to tell.  Susan bought us a small blanket each, and we
bought some food and beverages such as Mountain Dew.  We brought the
stuff back to Dawn, and we staked out our little section on the
sidewalk.  The college guys told us that the bagel shop owner across
the street rented plastic chairs for five dollars after business died
down some time into the night.

     It was time to meet Ted, so Susan and I left Shawn and Dawn on
the street and went back to the hotel lobby.  Ted showed up on time.
He was maybe in his 50's I guess.  He describes himself as a guy who
has always loved the show, but is doomed never to be chosen as a
contestant since he runs the hotel, which is associated with the show.
Ted was dressed mostly in black, and did, in fact, know all about the
show.  He was kind of a cowboy, but not so much the kind from Texas.
More LA California like, I guess.  He'd been to the show countless
times, and even had a gallery of photos of people he taught who ended
up being contestants.

     As I sat there and listened to all he could tell us about what
was going to happen, I slowly started to realize this wasn't a
spectator sport.  There were only about 350 seats at the show, and
everyone there was after the prize and being a contestant.  I felt
like I was in a competition, and I was planning to lose!  I didn't
like that feeling much, but I also was not interested or prepared to
compete.  In addition to the competition, Ted was one of many we would
meet who showed that "The Price is Right" was not just a show.  It was
huge.  People lived it.  I always wondered what it was like to be at a
"Star Trek" convention and not be a fan.  Well, now it was me who was
looking around in surprise at the fanaticism.  Even the people
attending Ted's class, many were older, one was taking oxygen.  Yet
everyone was there ready to go, ready to take me on and push me out of
the way.

     Despite Ted's expertise, even he didn't realize how hard people
were trying to get into the last shows.  As he was talking at 10:45pm,
saying that we usually could get on the show if we got in line at 4am,
he was surprised at the length of the line already.  As he talked, we
watched as some younger people dragged a full sized mattress out the
door.  I very much enjoyed listening to Ted's talk, but I kept getting
nervous, thinking Dawn would not be able to hold down our seats.
Although Ted did say once we got our plastic chairs, folks were
usually understanding if some of your party would skip out to take a
break.

     It was time to stand in line.  Man, I was not looking forward to
the long night.  I was really happy Susan suggested that I take my
Winter coat, because it was getting cold.  I figured I'd be OK, so I
didn't even take all my layers.  Just my Winter coat and an extra
layer of shirt.  Susan and I walked out to the line, and it had become
much longer.  It was only 11pm.  Folks seemed to look at us
suspiciously as we walked past them up the line.  Dawn was there, and
she already had her chair.  I had previously told her she couldn't get
it for a long time, but she and Shawn already had theirs.  So Susan
went across the street to get ours.  I already felt cramped in line.
We could not even put our chairs in a line and watch the street.  We
had to put them in a square, with two of them closer to the street.

     So we all settled in with our blankets.  From Ted and the college
guys, we learned that we would have to wait until 6am.  At that time
we'd get our order number.  We could then go to the hotel, and need to
be back at 7:30am.  At 7:30am we would get our priority numbers, and
need to be back at 9am.  We had to check out by noon, but the Ted said
the hotel would hold our cars and luggage until after the show.

     So the plan was, wait in line until 6am and get our order
numbers.  Sleep in the hotel for an hour and a half.  At 7:30am get
our priority numbers.  Go back to the hotel, shower and clean up and
check out.  Go to the studio at 9am for interviews and the show.  Ted
told us that they look for three things during interviews: a winner,
since audiences like it when people win, people from around the
country in order to appeal to larger audiences, and someone who will
not possibly hurt Bob.  We also learned that if you had a cell phone,
they would take it and secretly disqualify you.  They hated cell phone
cameras because one single flash would supposedly ruin the show, and
cause it not to adhere to "broadcast quality".  Tricky thing was, if
you win and the show doesn't air, it NEVER happened.  You lose the
boat, the car, and the vacation to Jamaica, just like that.

     The people behind us in line were a man, his wife, and his
daughter.  He was about 70 I guess.  Susan and Dawn started up a
conversation with the man and daughter, while his wife was in their
truck across the street near the bagel shop.  They had a hotel room a
little farther out, and also found they had to get in line earlier
than expected.

     Dawn and Shawn went back to the hotel to put on warmer clothes.
When they came back, they said they put on all the clothes they could,
including multiple socks and sleeping pants.  I was pretty sure I
wouldn't need to do anything like that.  I was fine.  I guess if
anything, I could feel my legs getting cold.  At about 1am, Susan and
I decided to take a shift at the hotel and warm up.  I thought I was
doing fine, but by the time we got to the second floor of the hotel, I
was shivering.  We cranked up the heat and looked at the bed we paid
so much for, and will hardly sleep in.  Instead, we sat on the heating
vents.  Sweet deal for the hotel.  I put on my sleeping pants under my
jeans, put on two pairs of socks, and put on a couple more shirts.  I
hoped I was good to go again, but I wasn't very sure I was anything
but cold.  I also had my stocking cap and gloves that were always with
my Winter jacket.

     Back on the street the next hour or so was OK.  I tried to eat
some snacks and drink some Mountain Dew, but it was simply too cold.
The temperature was dropping.  There was no motivation to eat, when
eating meant coming out from the blanket.  My plans on playing games
on my cell phone to pass the time was out of the question.  Better to
try to keep warm under the blanket.

     We did take shifts, and this allowed two of us to sit in one
chair and raise our feet on the other chair.  We also got double
blankets when two people were gone.  On the street, it became a matter
of paying attention to what parts of your body were losing body heat.
For me, next to the street, it was my right leg and foot.  It was the
traffic that ripped the cold air through our blankets.  We all dreaded
buses.  They'd rip all the warm air away.  But as the night went on,
the traffic slowed.

     At one time during the night, there was just me, Shawn, and the
man behind us.  So we talked to pass the time.  He was a pretty rugged
man.  He had some nice blankets, but we were almost half his age and I
was freezing.  So we talked to pass the time.  He had worked for a
long time in logging.  I learned about logging and over the night
heard that it seemed pretty dangerous.  He did well though, and had a
fishing boat up in Oregon now.

     Hours of shivering went on and on into the night.

     Finally one of the shops across the street opened up and started
serving hot drinks.  For about two hours, traffic was so slow you
could walk across the street.  But we all were so tired, we all still
looked out for traffic as if it was rush hour.  Susan convinced me to
get a coffee drink.  I was really really cold and really really tired.
This was all after driving down from San Jose.  But the shop was just
a little warmer, and the service was slow.  But for once, that was a
good thing.  A really good thing.

     It was really getting cold out.  Even our coffees got cold pretty
quickly after walking them back to our chairs.  About 4am we started
to simultaneously see the light at the end of the tunnel, yet we all
knew time would start to slow in order to thwart our optimism.  The
man behind us checked back at his truck and told us his thermometer
said it was 42 degrees.  Only 42 degrees?  We were disappointed for
all the shivering we were doing.  But Susan reminded me later that
this was good hypothermia temperature.

     Finally at 5:30am, feeling like zombies, we all started standing
up and packing up.  The friends and conversation made the long night
easier.  But it wasn't like it made it easy.  It's as if it simply
made it actually survivable, and I mean, as if we would have died
otherwise.  Finally it was time to remember why we were here.

     With 15 minutes before we were supposed to get our order numbers,
we all became human again.  And by that I mean, we started to creep up
in line and basically press ahead to get our chance at a good ticket.
So what I really mean, is that perhaps we were more human during the
night, for a change.  Now we were competing again.  And I should say,
that during the night, the line was out of sight literally down the
street.  I do not know how far it went.  Certainly blocks.

     At 6am, nothing happened.

     Finally someone drove up.  It was Chuck.  Chuck was going to be
the guy who told us what to do for the next number of hours.  About
6:15am or so, the line started moving.  All the time Chuck was handing
out tickets and shouting out instructions as to when to show up again.
The thing was, Chuck was talking in TV announcer voice.  TV announcer
voice is how the game show announcers talk, with the funny accents and
stresses announcers use when talking about a prize or a commercial
product, or the rules to a show.  It was kind of surreal, as we were
just on the street.  We walked right up to Chuck, he had no megaphone,
but continued to shout at us in announcer voice as he happily handed
us our numbers.  Next we were on our way back to the hotel!  We were
extremely happy!  We got order numbers 39 - 42.  we would very likely
be on the show!!!  We had to be back at 7:30am.

     Susan and I got back to our room.  We knew we should leave at
about 7:15am to get back to the studio.  We learned earlier from the
college guys, that we had to be on time.  They would call the first
numbers first, and if we were not there, we would be skipped pretty
quickly.  I undressed and carefully put my clothes on the floor in
easy to find patterns.  Susan and I hit our pillows at about 6:45am,
and as if absolutely no time had passed, woke up to Dawn knocking on
the door at 7:15am.  We were instantly late.

    There was no problem getting dressed again, because there was no
memory of any time since I just put the clothes down on the floor.
But somehow putting on the clothes made us late again, and we were
down in the lobby at about 7:20 with less than 10 minutes to get to
the studio.  So out the door we went.  It was kind of sunny.

     It was not long outside before horror set in.  There was a line.
There was a long line.  I never figured it, but they did not open wide
the gates to the parking lot.  They were slowly admitting everyone
through a small one person gate.  As we got to the line, I realized it
was in the best interest to all these people, that we should not get
in before them, because for every person with a low number that didn't
make it, they would have a better chance to get on the show.

     We got in line, and I went up front to see if we could go
straight in.  It was 5 minutes before the time we were to be called.
The guy at the gate was casually chatting with folks as they went in.
I asked if people with lower numbers could get through, he said no.
Need to wait in line.  We were screwed.  I blew it.  We waited all
that time, all night, and now we would get skipped.  It was quite
angering.  But thanks to many many TV shows and movies, I knew that
physically smashing through the gate, as much as instinct seemed to
suggest it, was not something that would ultimately help.  So I went
back and grumbled and stressed as we slowly moved up in line.

     We finally got to the gate and rushed in.  We had to go through a
security checkpoint, and show our order number, and we approached a
crowd under an enclosed area next to a building.  As we got closer, we
realized it was Chuck who was speaking on a speaker system of some
sort.  It was the huge crowd of folks who waited in line the night
before.  I mean a few hours before.  I mean an hour and 15 minutes
before.

     The urgency and worry turned into relief, as we found that no one
was doing anything but listening to Chuck.  Chuck was still speaking
in his announcer voice, but this time he had a speaker system.  He was
asking for folks who were having birthdays to raise their hands, and
then he'd ask their name, and then congratulate them, one at a time.
Then he moved to anniversaries.  This went on for quite a long time,
but we didn't know how long, because we left our cell phones behind,
and I had no wrist watch.

     After what seemed like a long time, Chuck finally started
directing us by number.  Except, he was hard to hear, and even harder
to see.  He told folks with numbers of certain ranges to line up on
the left, and other ranges to line up on the right.  But whenever it
was time for him to point, he'd hide around a corner, or seemingly
duck behind people, and it was impossible to tell where these lines
were supposed to be.  He continued this dance, as many people stumbled
around in confusion.  We had no idea where to line up.  We kind of
finally developed a vague idea that we should line up on the right
side of the building.  So we shuffled over there.

     Once we got on the right side of the building, we had to line up
in two lines, but it was unclear which line we should be in, or where
the numbers were supposed to be at.  Chuck helpfully directed us while
standing on around the corner and apparently pointing somewhere.

     This went on for an extremely mind boggling amount of time.  I
think it was a human experiment, because although the crowd was tired,
they all really tried to remain friendly, but they just wore us down.
Finally people started getting angry, and yelling at each other.  MOVE
THIS WAY!  MOVE BACK!  DON'T YELL AT ME!  The first 50 people up front
finally figured out what we were supposed to do, but the staff didn't
walk down the line to explain it to the hundreds of others.  So
imagine 50 people in the front of a crowd, trying to tell hundreds
more people to all keep moving back.  Folks just don't want to be told
to move back.

     It was in this mess that I saw the folks who slept the night
behind us.  I guess as we all found the people we recognized, we
managed to get in the same line.  Finally we kind of got in order.
Then we were told to sit down.

     Then came the waiting.  After waiting all night, it's kind of
funny to explain that the real waiting started here.  We had to sit in
place.  Any time we tried to get up, we were warned that if we left
the line, we would lose our chance to be on the show.  Yet the time
kept passing, and we had no breaks.  Chuck and others would walk up
and down the lines, telling us how great it was to have a chance to be
on the show, but if we got up, we'd blow it.

     As we waited, Chuck told us on the speaker that we had to be back
at 8:30am, a little earlier than we had expected.  Since we didn't
have our cell phones, it's not like we would have known, but someone
with a watch told us it was past 8:30am.  Finally Chuck admitted to us
all that it didn't make sense to tell us we had to be back at 8:30am
since it was past 8:30am.  He said we should simply stay.  This was
not turning out as we planned.  It wasn't even like Ted planned.  How
could we check out of our hotel, or get our luggage and car?

     Soon the line finally moved, and we got our show numbers.  All
four of us were given one sheet of paper, with our four numbers: 25,
26, 27, 28.  Our numbers moved up because some folks in the night line
were for the second show.  We were very excited because we were sure
we're be on the show.  It was just unfortunate that we'd have to lose
our luggage and truck.

     Dawn and Susan talked to the lady handing out our new numbers and
asked if there was any way we could use 15 minutes to run back to our
hotel and check out.  She gave us permission but it was at our own
risk, so we ran.

     We ran across the parking lot, across the street, and into the
hotel.  There were a few other folks running as well.  So much for the
time we were supposed to clean up for the show.  There was no time.
There was just enough time to throw our stuff in a suitcase and throw
some mouthwash on our teeth.  We left the blankets in the hotel.  It
was lucky we stayed up all night, or else we might have actually used
our rooms and left something important behind.  The only thing I had
time to do was exchange my stocking Winter cap for my baseball cap.
That was dressing up for the show.

     Although we didn't talk about it, Susan and I kept our Winter
coats and all our layers of clothes.  The excuse was that we didn't
have the time to change.  But the truth was, I was still cold to the
bone.  I was so cold, that taking my coat off was not an option.  I
never even considered it.  It was impossible.

     We ran back.  Susan and I could not run, so I handed off our
numbers to Dawn so they could go ahead.  Leave us behind and save
yourselves.  We made it back in plenty of time to wait for hours.

     So we sat down again in our order.  My seat was between Susan and
the older man in line.  He and I passed the time complaining about how
stupid it was to have to wait.  We voiced rebellion when they told us
we needed to sit.  But we still sat.  It was the women who actually
rebelled.  Dawn, Susan, and the man's daughter were out and about
finding food and drink while all the time Chuck and the staff
threatening us with losing our chance to be on the show.  So I stopped
my conversation about rebelling, and started up a new conversation
with Shawn about how the women were taking too many risks, and should
sit here as they told us.  I heard the man grumbling about his
daughter being gone as well.  Darn women, actually rebelling when we
were having such a good time talking about it...

     During the infinite wait, we heard Chuck's story.  He had dreamed
of being on the show, and then hoped to be a part of it, and finally
landed his job.  It was impressive.  Chuck was a really cool guy who
was living out his dreams.  This was what the "Price is Right" was all
about.

     Chuck was not the only one by far.  There was a man wandering
around who was going to see the show, but feared not walking around.
He was Daniel.  Dawn spoke to him.  He was a previous winner and was
here to see the show again.  But he was a regular, and could walk
freely about.  The "Price is Right" really is an amazing thing.
People would become interested in it, and devote their time to it, and
find a place to fit in.

     Then something more official happened.  We got our name tags!
Some people walked down the line.  I wondered if this was the
interview.  I had heard it was fast, but this time they just asked our
name, and then the "name drawer" person wrote out our name in the
special Price is Right style.  It was cool, but the tag was
complicated.  It came with another tag to stick on the bottom of the
name, which had other information on it.  It had to be done some
special way, but I didn't hear how.  We heard many warnings from the
staff, if you don't do this right, you'll never get on the show or
chosen as a contestant.  My tag kept falling apart and Susan kept
trying to fix it for me.  Now we were real people again.  We had
names.

     Then after more waiting, we finally got to do the interviews.
This did not happen in a nice room with tables and chairs, but we
stood up in line, and shuffled down to the end of the line where other
folks were on the other side of a metal railing.  These were the
interviewers.  They spoke in the Hollywood promoter voice.  If you
speak to them, you better be exciting in five seconds or your career
is history.

     Dawn's and Susan's interviews went pretty good, I thought.  The
guy would read your tag in an exciting way, and ask who you are, what
you do for a living, and then maybe something else.  I don't remember
what Dawn and Susan said, but the interviewer seemed to really like
talking to them.  We did not expect Shawn, still in High School, to be
chosen, and it seemed like that was the case.  Shawn said he was in
High School, and the guy instantly said, "Well, good luck with that
life thing!"  and moved on.  I felt pretty silly being there, trying
to impress this guy, while I was dressed and feeling like a guy who
just slept on the street.  I had my coat with stuff in the pockets and
my baseball hat.  I was quite a long way from dressing nice for TV.  I
said I was a software programmer, and he replied, "Hey, we need more
of those" and was on his way.

     I thought Shawn and I were off the hook, and Dawn and Susan had a
chance, but Susan kept saying she thought I had a chance.  But if I
ever did, I would have blown it at the next phase: the security check.

     After the interview, we had to go through a security checkpoint.
We were told if you carry a cell phone or anything at all that could
cause trouble, I would silently be disqualified.  I was really proud I
managed to leave my cell phone in my luggage.  I was virtually patting
myself on the back for parting with that cell phone that I usually
take everywhere.  Then as we got very close to security, I slowly
realized although I may have remembered to ditch the dangerous cell
phone, I still had my pocket knife.  Oops.  Darn boy scout instincts.
I nervously looked for some place to ditch it, but it was too late.  I
gave it to them and they gave me a little claim check.

     Next we went around a corner and got to line up outside again, in
yet a different bunch seats.  The excitement was high, because we
were, well, kinda, almost, maybe, sure we were going to be on the
show.  They even let us use the bathroom which was in the side of the
building in our final corral.  We could sit, but we didn't have to sit
all the time.  We had passed most of the tests to get in.

     After all this sitting and waiting and being awake and not
eating, I really had no idea what time it was at all.  Daniel was
wandering around, and suddenly, they got us moving through a door that
went... INSIDE.

     We walked in line into the building, and there it was, "The Price
is Right".  We were specifically shown which seats to sit in, which
was the same order.  We got incredible seats!!!  We were sitting in
the second row back from contestant row!!!  It was right there in
front of us!!!  The place was incredibly small.  It was like a
miniature version of the Price is Right.  It was almost the same size
as the "Price is Right Home Game".  The audience was really only about
350 people crowded in together.  The isle ways where people "came on
down" was just a short distance.  It's just the crowd is so tightly
packed in, I guess you have to press by people, and meanwhile the
cameras are wildly flying around.

     The stage kind of enveloped us.  The front corners of the stage
seemed to come out further for camera platforms.  Beyond that on the
left was some kind of control center with a few computer screens and
desks.  On the right was the announcer platform.  Workers were walking
all around the stage and platforms, so we seemed pretty much in the
center of the workings of the show.

     The stage looked much smaller than expected.  Not that the doors
that opened showing boats and cars were smaller, or that the games
were smaller, but all the doors and games were all very close
together, with the center stage being very small.  There were multiple
cameras in the various corners of the stage, so instead of one camera
being in the middle and looking at doors far away, there were cameras
out near the crowd looking across the diagonals.

     The ceiling was completely covered by every light that ever
existed, from the most advanced spotlight to original kerosene lamps,
all apparently activated by the control panels.  It seemed very much
like the mother of all Bennigan restaurants with all the items hanging
from the ceiling.

     We were warned ahead of time, and it was shiveringly true: it was
extremely cold in the theater.  They claimed it was to keep the lights
cool.  We were forced to take off our coats, and I then continued to
shiver. I was not entirely sure I had not become unconscious on the
street the night before, now dreaming of being on the show.

     As we sat there, between us and contestant row, were empty.  Some
folks were ushered in there.  We got the impression they were
important, because it looked like a producer was speaking to them as
if they were royalty.  We talked to the guy near us, and he was
surprised we stood on the street all night.  He was busy looking for
someone, maybe his son, but was still pretty nice.  The daughter of
the man behind us in line started talking to a woman in one of the
seats and asked her how they got such good seats.  The woman replied
they knew people.  The daughter asked who?, in a friendly manner.  The
woman replied, "People", and the conversation was over.  It was pretty
funny, as they were obviously very important to the show, and they had
to sit next to us who were out on the street all night.

     The stage was busy with workers wandering all around.  The
announcer, not Chuck, but the TV announcer, walked out and started
talking to us.  Welcome to the show and all that.  There was also the
cheerleader guy.  He kinda looked like someone women would find
attractive, long hair and looking like he worked out at the gym.  He
would help us with when to cheer, when to stand.  The announce told us
that we should stand and cheer any time anyone said "Bob Barker".
Then he said just that, so we could practice, and we stood and
cheered.

     Or was it practice?  I don't even know, it happened so fast.  I
guess I kind of expected there to be some definitive indication that
the show was about to start.  Maybe I was just too wiped out, but I
never really noticed the show starting.  I vaguely noticed people
being called down.  I guess I thought it was practice, but that didn't
make any sense.  I couldn't really even hear the announcer.  Next
thing I know Bob Barker walked out on stage and we were doing a
standing ovation which was also very loud.  I couldn't tell if the
announcer was going to stop and explain that's how the show will
start.  Next thing I know they're bidding on a TV or something.  I
realized the show had actually really started.

     Bob Barker, at that moment, was the greatest superstar known to
anyone.  He was not old or frail looking.  He looked in perfect
control of the show.  However, I still could not hear him talking, nor
very much of the bids.  Next thing we knew, a lady was going up on
stage.  She tried to guess the price of some dirt bikes, eventually
lost, and they shut off the cameras.  We were on commercial.

     One of the reasons I didn't realize the show had started, was
because all the workers on stage remained on stage.  They were all
walking around as if they were at the museum.  I guess they simply
knew very well which camera was on and where not to stand at any given
moment.

     As soon as the camera lights went off, Bob continued the illusion
of the seamless show, by speaking to us as if that's what he was doing
the whole time.  He didn't wipe his brow or take a breath.  It was if
he continued his conversation and changed it slightly to ask for
questions from the audience.  He'd chat with us from the stage and
you'd see a guy giving him the countdown, and he'd segway back to the
show, very rarely interrupting his conversation, as if it was perfect
timed.  Kind of as if he'd done this before, for say, 35 years.

     They called the next person to come on down, and there was lots
of high fiving and lots of excitement on contestant row.  I marveled
at it, wondering if I could act that excited.  I was excited, but not
nearly as much as those people seemed.  I wondered if I should be more
exited.  And, I hoped I would not get called.

     The next contestant did pretty well, and got to play a new game
called "More or Less".  She got to bid on an electric violin, bar,
pinball machine, and jeep.  Not that I remember, but I have watched
the show on TV to refresh my memory.  I remember knowing the jeep,
since the jeep was one of the fancier ones.  It had to be "more".  The
lady won, but I didn't remember her winning at the time.  It seemed
like a lot of people kept losing.

     Each commercial break, Bob would take questions from the
audience.  I could see commercials playing on some of the monitors off
to the side.  I thought it was kind of interesting that they remained
on a live schedule even though it was taped.

     I really don't remember the details of the show, it all went
pretty fast.  There was an older lady who was playing the safe
cracking game.  She dialed in the price of $607 dollars, and that
looked wrong.  The crowd, including the cheerleader guy, all yelled
no, so she would change it, but she didn't.  Then there was the
college guy in shorts and a baseball hat who was simply crazy on
stage.  He was in the group in front of us in line.  He hugged and
kissed Bob and at one point, ran up a platform and jumped off.  Bob
eventually grabbed him by the arm to keep him focused.  Kind of funny
though, because when I watched it on TV, the camera seemed to make him
look less active.  We had a great time sitting there and cheering and
guessing the prices.  It was a lot of fun.

     Then the show was over.  I waved goodbye to the folks who were in
line with us, and we made our way out.  We were happy and very tired.
As we filed out, the announcer said he had to do some retakes on some
lines, and he started running through the announcements as we left.
Once outside, I saw a crowd around some tables.  I found out I was not
alone in having to pick up a pocket knife or cell phone.  There was
yet another crowd, and it was easy to get annoyed at people pushing to
get their stuff.

     Finally we were on our way out.  We passed some of the guys from
the group in line and wished them congrats.  It was sunny out, and
that was real nice.  No one was telling us where to go.  Suddenly we
had all the time in the world.  For the first time in a long time, we
just ambled around.

     We walked across the street and picked up our car.  We wanted to
strip off some of our layers of clothes, but the car was on the
driveway of valet parking, so we had to move out.  We drove around the
corner and found a spot to temporarily park in and take off some of
our clothes.  I felt so grubby.  I probably stunk, but living on the
street I couldn't tell anymore.

     We decided to get out of town and eat on the way home.  As were
were trying to find a highway, we were looking around for the
Hollywood sign.  I was telling everyone it was impossible to see or
find from the roads.  Then we pulled up a little hill to a stop light,
and there it was past some buildings on a hill!  It was cool.
However, it was partially obscured by a billboard.  I guess that's
Hollywood.

     Next was to determine which way to go home: route 101 as we came
down, or route 5, which I thought would be faster.  We decided to go
101, because Susan showed how it wasn't that much longer from where we
were.  I later found out some kind of snow fell on 5 that day.  I
thought the folks behind us went that way, so I hope they did OK.  But
we never saw any snow that day.

     It was broad daylight but I was beat.  I realize I did sleep for
20 minutes in there somewhere, but it didn't seem like it.  It seemed
more like we drove down, hung about LA over night, and then started to
drive back.  We drove for about two hours while people slept, and I
became tired.  I hate driving when tired, and I play it pretty
conservatively in pulling off the road.  People think it's just a
matter of keeping your eyes open, but those who have ever tried it,
realize it doesn't work.  First your eyes stop trying to gage depth
perception and the world becomes this nice flat painting in front of
you.  Then the next thing, you feel that slight mental blink.  You
think, hmm, what was that mental blink followed by a rush of
adrenaline?  Oh, I guess I momentarily lost consciousness.  My mind
skipped the whole part about closing my eyes and drifting off to
sleep.  We went straight to unconsciousness.  So I was not interested
in anything like that, so I told everyone I wanted to pull over.

     We pulled over at a Marie Calendar's restaurant and rested up and
got some food into our stomachs.  Susan suddenly realized that the
reason she had been continuing to shiver was that we had not eaten for
about a day.  After dinner, Susan said she could easily drive a couple
hours, and I knew that's all I needed.  So we did that.

     We got home and it started to rain.  I was so happy to take a
shower.  I guess it just doesn't take very long to become grubby on
the street.  It's not like just wearing your clothes multiple days.
It's much worse.  I have a new appreciation for anyone living on the
street for real.  It's on my list of things to do, to help some
homeless.

     The show was great, having Shawn and Dawn around was great, and
the entire experience was a lot of fun.  However, I will never look at
a game show the same way ever again.  I recently heard on "Deal or No
Deal", talk about folks waiting overnight for tickets.  Just a little
comment, probably no one noticed.  I winced.  But I know they must
have really enjoyed the experience as well.