Last Man Standing

L_ST M_N ST_N_IN_ May 24, 2015

They were in the seat in front of me on the BART. I could only see the back of their heads but their voices were distinct.

The guy said, “Oh my God it was bad. Really bad. The. Worst. Ever.”

The woman said, “Worst what?”

“Fundraiser. It was a hospital thing. You know that place where Jen used to work. A really big deal. Must have been 1000 people there. My boss couldn’t go at the last minute and so I had his tickets – they were like $2500 apiece or something insane.”

“Sounds like a big deal.”

“No kidding. There was a big tent and a million servers in tuxes. Went on and on with the speeches and the tribute videos and the celebrity appearances and they had this big time sleazoid emcee guy and everything.”

“I hate those guys.”

“And there were TV crews walking around and interviewing people. The last speech was a girl that had had surgery at the hospital and she had a cleft palate. There were before and after photos and she had looked really bad before and now she was great. I mean it was a great story and she told it beautifully – all the women were crying – and when she was done we all stood up to applaud for her.”

“Very nice. So what was so bad?”

“They wouldn’t let us sit down.”

“What do you mean?”

“The guy that was running the thing just said we should remain standing. He said they had come up with a fun way to finish off the evening.”

“I don’t get it. What were they going to have you do, dance the hokey-pokey?”

“SOO much worse. This guy says, ‘and now anybody who wants to provide $50,000 to help fund a new pediatric surgery chair should sit down.’ Everybody looked around at each other and didn’t quite know what to make of it. But some guy at the front table sat down right where everybody could see him do it. And as soon as he did, all these people burst out of the back room and started cheering and screaming. They were wearing these orange tee-shirts on top of their tuxedos – they looked like Oompa-Loompas, I swear to God – and they mobbed the guy like he’d just hit a three pointer at the buzzer.”

“Wow I’ve never seen it done that way.”

“I didn’t really even get it at first, but it became pretty clear cause then the emcee asked who wanted to give $20,000 to provide training for an intern in pediatric oncology. Like, he said, anyone who wanted to give should just sit down.”

“Oh my God, that’s awful.”

“Yeah and so like four people sat down.”

“Wow, what were you doing?”

“Shit I was just standing there, what else could I do? Like $20,000 is ridiculous. And I am like in the second table in the front cause I had my boss’s seats.”

“So what did they do next?”

“Well then they did $10,000 and $5,000 and then $2,500 and honestly I couldn’t believe it. People were sitting down left and right.”

“So did you try to sit down yourself?”

“No you couldn’t do it. They had us trapped because they had all these orange guys who kept swarming around anytime somebody sat down. You didn’t want to sit down by mistake. If you sat down you would be out $2,500. The only way to avoid it was just to keep standing. And so then they went to $1,000 and $500 and then they got to $250 and shit, I gotta tell you that by that point there weren’t that many people still standing and I’m there and everybody at my table is looking up at me like I’m a total cheapskate.”

“So what did you do?”

“Well, what could I do? I didn’t want to put up that kind of money so I just stood there and then they went down to $100 and then $75 and honestly I think at $75 I may have been the only person in the entire room left standing. They were all looking at me.”

“Oh my God. That’s horrible. How did you feel?”

“It had been going on for hours by this point, at least that what it felt like, and I had been feeling like a trapped rat, but when they got down to $75 I got really pissed. I am like screw this, I’m not sitting down. See what they do. So the guy went ahead and he called for $50 and I stood there and he looked at me and gave me a little friendly sort of sheepish smile like he was kind of sorry could I just help him out, but I am now in a total screw you mode and so I just looked at him like he was dirt.”

“Jeesus. What happened?”

“I think if I’d given him a signal that I could do you know 25 bucks he would have called that and we could have been done with it, but when I projected attitude, he started going down by $5 amounts.”

“You’re kidding.”

“No, seriously, it went $50, $45, $40 and by this time everybody in the place was totally pissed at me.”

“Why! Why were they pissed at you?”

“Cause they were all ready to go home and their cars had been valeted and they wanted to beat the line but they were trapped.”

“Why were they trapped? Hadn’t they already given?”

“Yeah, but I think they were worried that if they stood up people would think they hadn’t given and they would seem like they were as big a jerk as me.”

“Oh my God. How much did you give in the end?”

“I stood my ground.”

“Wow. You are tough.”

“You have no idea. They got down to 10 bucks and the sleazoid is giving me the stink eye but I just gave it back to him so he starts to go down a dollar at a time.”

“No way!”

“Yeah, finally some guy at the front had enough and he yells out that he’ll give $5,000 bucks if they’ll just stop.”


“And the emcee smiles and looks at the crowd and he says, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I have $5,000 do I hear $6,000?” And then people start bidding, just to stop the guy from trying to get me to put up a few bucks. It was wild, one guy bid $10,000.”

“And did he… Oh, shit… Goddamn it! You are bullshitting me, right?”

“Ha Ha.”

“God damn you. You are a jerk.”

“Thank you. Thank you very much”

“You are such a jerk.”

“Had you going.”


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