He Makes a Nice Living as Professional Line-Stander

Robert Samuel has found a unique niche in New York City
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2022 12:07 PM CDT
Updated May 14, 2022 10:00 AM CDT

Good things come to those who wait ... so others don’t have to. Robert Samuel figured that out a decade ago when he began his career as a line-stander in New York City. The Guardian recently found him waiting to buy tickets for The Music Man. He does this in all weather, at all hours, whatever it takes, and whatever you need: tickets, iPhones, or even a sweet, sweet cronut. He once sat in a French church for 26 days waiting for a euthanasia patient to die as part of a “macabre” art exhibit. This isn't just a gig; he's a pro.

He got his big break in 2015 when Lin-Manuel Miranda announced that he was stepping away from Hamilton. That triggered the “theater purists who have to see the original cast, no matter the cost," Samuel says. While online resale tickets soared to $15,000, he discovered that a few tickets were sold at face value and released at the box office on the morning of the show. He charged $5,000 and waited for up to five days, but it was still a bargain for his clients. He started a legit business, Same Ole Line Dudes, and made a splash on social media, such as a piece for 60 Second Docs, which shows him marketing his service.

Samuel pulled in about $80,000 a year before the pandemic, which shut down Broadway and other major events. He adapted, per WBUR, which found him holding the line for COVID-19 tests. “We’re still far, far from what we used to do, but it’s still keeping us in the game," he said, explaining how the pandemic had affected business. Not everyone sees it as a good sign for society. Reached by the Guardian, sociologist Sarah Damaske said, “When we see really extreme income inequality, this ability to outsource personal tasks becomes more possible. … It makes me think of those days gone by when people were afforded opportunities via birthright, in kind of a manor-born type of way.” (More strange stuff stories.)

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