9:20 AM. The next person behind me arrives. A couple more show up shortly afterward. They're all guys. In fact, three out of four people here are guys. I'm glad I'm not here to pick up chicks. I overhear part of the guys' conversation. It seems one of the guys got a phone call from the show telling him to come to the audition. I have to assume that this person was able to get through to the 800 number and do well on the phone test or whatever. I feel a little bit bad for him for a minute because he has to wait in line with the rest of us who just walked in off the street. Then I remember that I wasn't able to get through because he was bogarting the phone line, and I stop feeling guilty. I wonder if I'll be too preoccupied during rounds to pay attention to whom I should be voting off.
9:25 - 9:55 AM. I drink a bottle of water from my bag. The three guys behind me discuss strategy for "The Link." That's what they call the show. "The Link." That is so irritating. I'm totally going to do that. I don't pay them much attention, since I've already figured out my own strategy. Do you want to hear it? Okay, here it is:
Answer questions correctly.
It has occurred to me that I should perhaps feign ignorance on an occasional question in order to stay below the radar. I could just say "Bank...I don't know" once or twice and be safe until the seventh round. But then I think that if I purposely get one wrong, it's possible that my next question could be one that I legitimately don't know. The chances of that are infinitesimally small, of course, but it probably isn't worth the risk.
10:00 AM. There are about a dozen more people in line behind me. A guy just walked by wearing a t-shirt that says, "Rehab is for quitters." A lot of people have been walking by all morning. Some of them have been carrying luggage. It hits me that this is, after all, a hotel. I congratulate myself on this remarkable cognitive leap. The droolers are really going to be gunning for me when the time comes.
The group behind me, having apparently exhausted the subject of strategy, has fallen silent.
10:01 AM. They move on to the subject of a Ku Klux Klan rally that's going on today in St. Paul.
10:01:45 AM. They begin trading Link anecdotes. Man, T. Coraghessan Boyle is a good writer. I crack open my can of Pringles®. I try to think of people I can visit in L.A. when I'm there to tape the show.
10:30 AM. Along with snacks and books and bottled water, Mrs. Giant sent her cell phone along with me so that I could talk to her while I was waiting. See, I'm not the only smart one in the family. I hear the phone ring in my bag. I'm unable to locate it and dig it out before it stops ringing. After a minute, the phone tells me it has a voicemail message. I can't figure out how to retrieve it. My concern about being the smartest person here abates somewhat.