May I Take Your Coat?

I know it’s a little late for New Year’s Resolutions. But I actually make Chinese New Year’s resolutions so technically this is coming in early.

This year I made a life resolution:

Never check my coat anywhere, ever, ever again.

A coat check is a good idea in theory, but based on several bad encounters and 1 extremely awful experience on New Year’s eve/day. I have resolved to just keep my coat with me as opposed to subject myself to the insanity that comes with trying to retrieve a checked coat.

The first time I checked a coat I was living in Italy during my college years. It was winter in Florence so we would head out to the dance clubs all bundled up and ready to party.

Invariably every single person would leave the club at the same time and a gaggle of drunk Americans would converge on the coat check like they were trying to get a peak at a bearded lady or a unicorn. The process was always cumbersome and pushy and way too exhausting for my liking.

Going to school in Arizona I never had to check a coat… I never even had a coat. And then when I graduated and moved in with my roommates (my parents) I didn’t have what many people consider to be a thriving social life. I honestly don’t know if I checked a coat between 2006 and 2009.

But I went to a friend’s birthday party in Manhattan last year in a bar that had way more feet than square feet and against my better judgment, I checked my coat. I quickly forgot about it but was given a brutal reminder of the awfulness that comes with a coat check when I tried to leave.

The coat room was empty but for a giant black wooly mound on the floor. With terror in her eyes the coat check lady looked up at me and said:

“The coat rack broke; all of the coats are on the floor.”

Thank you coat check lady. I can see that.

I think it’s fair to point out that this is why I rarely pre-tip the coat check lady. It seems to me that any time I put a dollar in the coat check ladies bucket at the beginning of the night, it says to her,

Hey do me a favor and make my life a living hell when I try to get this back OK?

Amazingly that night ended with me getting my coat back but I was pretty sure that was my last interaction with a coat check.

Not so much.

Flash forward to New Year’s Eve 2009. Chicago! A swanky price fixed bar! Fancily dressed ladies! A bow tie! What could go wrong?


Everything.

As we checked our coats downstairs at MARKET BAR in Chicago I felt hesitation, but knew that I was planning to dance and dancing with a coat in hand would inhibit all of my sweet moves.

So we hand off our coats. Megan is number 84, Jen is number 85, and I am number 86. Brilliant. Ticket goes in my pocket. And we go upstairs to celebrate the New Year.

The night was a smash hit (to say nothing of the bow tie) and we had a blast. Around 12:45 we decide we better round up the cattle to go. The line going downstairs for the coat check is understandably long… perhaps 40 or so people. But I figure it should move quickly since it is only a coat check. I give you number, you give me coat. Right?

Wrong.

I’m not sure what happened while we were upstairs dancing but apparently there was seismic shift in the space time continuum because 45 minutes later, the 3 of us still had not gotten our coats and we were now only in the middle of the line.

Why were there no coats to be distributed? Where had they all gone?

Had Rumplestiltskin come by at midnight and spun all the coats into gold? Had there been a coat heist? Had the coats been thrown so far into the closet that they ended up in Narnia? Where the hell were the coats?

Of course it only got worse as drunken idiots from upstairs got on the line. And of course nobody was yelling, or pushing, or being obnoxious.

But the dramatic idiocy of the coat check fiasco got even worse if you can believe it. Every 8 minutes somebody would come out of the closet and say something like,

Does anybody have number 146?

Are you effen kidding me? This isn’t coat bingo. I wasn’t hoping to impress my friends with the sweet ladies pea coat I won on New Year’s, I want my coat!

Does anybody have a Banana Republic coat?

You know who has a Banana Republic coat? Half the frigging yuppies here. Give me my damn coat!

What does your coat look like?

What do you mean what does my coat look like, its black and made of wool like every other winter coat in the known universe. GIVE ME MY MOTHER @#$*% COAT!

Megan finally gets her coat. Soon to be followed by Jen and myself right?

Wrong.

We waited another 20 minutes for Jen to get her coat. So then there was just me in the middle of a frigging riot. I felt like I was battling to get my rice rations from the Vietcong. People are screaming, there are multiple idiots from the Market Bar trying to make things worse for everybody including one dooshbag manager who looks like a pre-pubescent Muppet who starts screaming:

Do you want people to start dying? No? Then back up.

Now I know my training in crisis management is minimal, but I am pretty sure telling people that they might DIE while waiting to get their COAT is not a best business practice.

During the 90 minutes it took me to get my coat I was pushed, prodded, shoved, condescended to, ignored, yelled at, screamed at, and cursed at.

And do you know how I finally was able to get my coat back?

I said to the coat check guy; I am looking at my coat. I can see it. Can you please give it to me?
Finally with coat I thought I was free. Hooray.

Except of course for the drunk girl sitting on the steps who would not let me up, the 45 minute wait in 0 degree weather to catch a cab, and the cops who refused to let people wait inside the bar.

But hey at least I got my coat back right?

At least.