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This one was inspired by The Fates, while I waited in line Sunday evening to go through the TSA at the airport.  The Fates were ahead of me, taking too much time removing metallic objects from their persons. 

There are many things in life that test our mettle.  In my opinion, the greatest crucible to our character is waiting in a line. Nothing rouses remonstrance as readily as the sense someone has violated ‘the rules’ about waiting in a line. Imagine being #6 in line at the Uncle Albertsons check out, when some schmo runs up and asks #2 if they can cut in front of them as they only have one item. #2, hesitant to say ‘no’, allows this to happen. After all, they are not too more inconvenienced to do this. This immediately arouses in #3, #4, #5, and #6 etc. a strong desire to strangle both parties. While driving in construction traffic, nothing gets Someone more peeved than responding as soon as possible to a ‘merge right; closed lane ahead’ sign, only to see someone whiz by (usually in a BMV) right up to the lane closure and force himself into the right lane. Oh the horror. *

Standing in line – and following the rules – evokes a child-like sense of what is right and childish outrage when it does not happen. I hear tell of folks calling the police to come arrest such line-breakers.**  

It seems to me people did a better job at waiting in a line when I was a lad. Proper line protocol was something I learned in first grade or even kindergarten viz. stand quietly in a straight line and wait your turn and don’t complain. As I type this, I am witnessing a boarding where everyone is crowded together at the gate, all trying to get on board at the same time, regardless what the group is being announced.***  I am in Group 6, which means I can wait until the last moment to board, at ease, knowing my seat is there and the plane isn’t going to take off until I am strapped in to it.

A wait of unknown duration raises more anxiety and tempers than a wait with a known reason and duration. Seeing what lies ahead is more tolerated than a line going around a corner that you can not see what is happening or causing the line not to move. I am a fan of the single lane wait line that branches at the end to triage to whoever is next open, so the slowpokes and speedbump-kins don’t hold everyone back. I have the seeming bad luck at grocery stores to always pick the slowest-moving line, but I read this is a common feelings and not true; it only feels like it. Do you feel similar?

I don’t wait in many lines nowadays as I am generally not out and about in them and most places have done a better job at managing crowds with roped off corridor mazes to disallow line-jumpers. Mother taught me to always carry a book, so when in line it gives you something to do other than just standing there feeling frustrated by it all. Nowadays people don’t read book in lines but go on their iPhones, probably to write negative reviews for the place for which they are in this awful line. 

*I’ve read/heard there is data to support NOT merging right away, but to keep all lanes going until the merge, and then the cars merge, alternating like a closing zipper.  If true, few wish to do so and I admit I am too Midwestern to drive clear up to the merge as I can feel the daggers and expletives sent my way and no one will let me merge. 

**Others merely record the break-in miscreant and verbal/sometimes physical aftermath and post the fracas on line at YouTube for all the world to be similarly outraged. 

***Southwest Airlines, I give them credit, has pylons which people are instructed to stand within their number zone until collected. I suppose this sort of structure is more necessary for passengers going into a ‘first in/first choice” sitting arrangement.  

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Spo-Reflections 2006-2018