Vs. Cutting in Line

Posted: August 10, 2011 in Reader's Suggestion
Tags: , , , , ,

Here’s the deal.  After two fairly autobiographical posts in a row, I figured it was time to get back to things that bother everyone.  And what better way to capture the voice of the people than to address another reader’s suggestion?  So, my thanks to Luke for today’s topic.

Let’s dive right in – what’s the point of a line if those who wait can be passed by those bold enough to cut?  If there are any cutters reading this, let me explain.  When people arrive at an establishment where the doors are not yet open or the number of people arriving overwhelms the number of people selling a product, these patrons have no choice but to wait for their turn.  Rather than just standing in a clump and yelling back and forth, “Who’s next?”, we’ve created a solution – the line.  As the shortest distance between two points, the line does a great job…but only if everyone plays by the rules.

And the rules are simple.  In fact, there’s only one rule – get in the back of the line.  Of course, one of the problems is that cutting in line isn’t so egregious that one can justify screaming and yelling and grabbing the cutter and tossing them to the curb…although it is bad enough to make us feel like doing that.

Even when a congenial senior citizen is holding a spot for his wife of forty-nine years…admit it, when grandma joins her husband in line two spots ahead of you, you give her a little glare.  Because even though holding a spot in line for a friend is socially acceptable – where do you draw the, er, line?  I mean, what if one guy is holding a spot for two of his buddies?  Probably okay.  What if the football team sends the water boy to hold their spot and, suddenly, fifty three jocks jump in front of you…it’s a slippery slope.

Hands Across America at Eakins Oval along the ...

Hands Across America - the friendliest line ever

And we’re correct to be outraged.  First come, first served is just logical.  And whether you’re at the grocery store, the movie theater, the bank, or (the mother of all lines) the amusement park – line cutting is simply unacceptable.  Imagine you drew the number four at the deli and after number three was served, some guy jumped in with a hand written 3.5 – it’s unheard of.  Anyone who can count knows that the first person gets served first, the second person second, and so on…cutting in line throws off the natural order.

I understand that in some countries, lines don’t garner the respect that they do here in the US (for those of you from England, the above paragraphs roughly translate to – “Bugger, he botched the queue!”).  But we are a line lovin’ country.  I don’t know where you were on May 25, 1986 but my family drove to D.C. to participate in Hands Across America.  And a lot of people joined in simply because they saw a line.  “Look at that,” they’d say, “Appears to stretch damn near across the nation.  Get in line, honey, this has got to be something good.”

And lines do usually lead to something good.  Whether you’re picking up concert tickets, riding the newest roller coaster, or waiting to buy your Franks and Beans – we stand in line because it’s worth it.  And I think I speak for all of us who abide by the common laws of courtesy necessary for a society to function when I say – when you cross the line…you’ve crossed the line.  

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I stop the dastardly few who cut in front of the rest of us rule-followers?  If I suggested making line cutting criminal, would you think I’d gone too far?  Well, they’ve done just that in Washington, where legislation has been introduced to make line cutting at the ferry illegal.  Kudos to you, my Northwestern friends.  So many in government are overly concerned with cutting taxes or cutting funding, it’s good to see someone addressing the cuts that really matter.

  1. Jackie says:

    I love your writing; so glad I discovered your blog. Great post!

  2. heathersnyder1 says:

    I see this all the time on the freeways people “cutting in line”. You have your bottlenecks and you have the jerk that was in the back of the line who wants to whip around the sides and get ahead of everyone. Those are the drivers that always want you to let them in, but won’t reciprocate.

  3. AiXeLsyD13 says:

    Well stated! These sorts of things drive me insane also. The worst is the multiple-line chaos. At the grocery store… it’s one thing, I always choose the worst line. Everyone ought to do it like Best Buy where you’re all corralled before moving on to the next open register.

    The worst places for this offense are McDonald’s and an area gas station/convenience store/gift from heaven – Sheetz. Wendy’s & Burger King seem to have this in check. Nothing bites my ass more than when you’re hedging your bets waiting in between 2 lines to die down, and some ass comes in & nabs one of the lines. Get behind me! I was first! Gah!

  4. Dorothy says:

    A thoughtful, funny post about the “cuts that matter”. Made me think of another twist – people who wait in long lines and aren’t told about the checker who has nothing to do. Are we all lemmings?

  5. ted says:

    What are all those idiots doing standing around? The clear access is right at the front, yet these fools appear tp be standing as far as possible from the front. I don’t know what their malfunction is, but I’m going directly to the point of service. Idiots.

    • Makya McBee says:

      Jackie – So glad to have been discovered…I wonder if this is how Greenland felt when Erik the Red showed up…

      Heather – Yes, auto cutting…didn’t consider that…a most dispicable form of the cut. There are some very poor mergers out there.

      D13 – Gah, indeed. I considered addressing multiple lines, but decided it to be a separate issue. I agree completely – the one line funnel to multiple checkouts is the simple solution that many are still avoiding and it will rid of us our 3rd leading psychological disorder, Line Choosing Trauma. (Thanks for the link, friendo, now the people in line for your blog will be directed to mine – sweet).

      Dorothy – Thoughtful? Hmmm, I like the sound of that. Full of thought. That’s me. Thoughterific. Thoughtastic. Smart. Incisive. Brainified. I guess I should stop before the word no longer applies.

      Ted – Careful, buddy…we must not let anyone’s “malfunction” tempt us to cut. Remember, idiots are people too.

      • heathersnyder1 says:

        I am not one for road rage, but I love watching the people that just won’t let those auto cutters back in line. I did witness one driver in Massachusetts who chased an auto cutter down, I don’t recommend that. But, then again drivers in Massachusetts live by their own rules. They all drive on the sides of the roads. I guess that’s why they have a no fault policy in that state when it comes to accidents.

  6. angelina says:

    There is only one solution to this quandry. Bring a wolverine with you where ever you go. If someone cuts in line in front of you. Whip out your wolverine and throw it on them. They will never try that again i garrintee. Badgers will work in a pinch.

    • Lokyra Stone says:

      I was reading this and going, “I think I would bring a badger.”
      Then I read, “Badgers will work in a pinch.”

  7. madtante says:

    The Midwest gives good queue.

    • Lokyra Stone says:

      Personally I think the midwest and parts of the south and Texas give good queue just because you never know which people are armed and pissed.

  8. Laura4NYC says:

    Funny! We have lines over here, too: Whole Foods, clubs, theaters.. and I’m not talking about innocent 40 person lines but queues that wrap around 4 blocks or more. So the method to this is simply cutting in line, especially when you want to get into the next hot spot in Brooklyn. I never knew how to do this until I met a proud New Yorker who showed me how to innocently stand next to (preferably for guys) a group of females (or males for girls), then ask them for the time, start a conversation, and just slipin line behind them. Everyone else behind you will think you know them and won’t bother to start trouble. Thus, I am very sorry that you have never discovered the art of cutting but maybe one day or another you can try it out yourself! Just saying…

    • Makya McBee says:

      Angelina – If anyone every says to you, “There is only one solution…” and then goes on to say, “Bring a wolverine with you…” – you should stop them right there. While I’m all for thinking outside of the box, growing up my dad always told me, “Never throw wolverines in anger, son, there’s always a better way.”

      madtante – I am proud to say that I do not know what this means. Are you suggesting that the lines themselves are better in your neck of the woods (length, shape, etc.)? Or that the people in the Midwest are better at the act of lining up? Or is it, as it sounds, a euphemism?

      Laura – I’m disappointed to see how America has corrupted you. I bet you never cut in line in Europe. Don’t relinquish your international values. Don’t be lured into the glitz and glammer of American We Can Do Whatever We Wantedness. Remember, you are the future…our only hope…get in the back of the line.

      • madtante says:

        I’ve considered not explaining, which is always the best way to go about these things but I’ll fuck it up anyway: I meant (and I know as both a Midwesterner and somebody who lived in the UK and France) that Midwesterners are excessively polite.

        I’ll queue for 45 minutes w/o noticing I’ve been standing there.

        It was phrased in a manner to invoke the hilarity. People seldom notice how hilarious I am, which at my age, I’ve almost grown accustomed to.

      • Makya McBee says:

        I lived in the Midwest for eleven months in 1999-2000…I wasn’t polite enough to stay – but kudos to you.

  9. So glad you were on Freshly Pressed! I wouldn’t have found these very important posts addressing very important things like this. The lines at lunch at school were insane. t become more of a mob to get up front than anything. It got bad enough to cut the cutters, which of course makes an endless cycle.

  10. theoneyearchallenge says:

    I’ve noticed that some people, Larry David for example, say standing “on line”, while the rest of us say standing “in line”. Either way, cuts are for jerks.

  11. ravolution says:

    Good job you translated that for me. As a Brit, without the ‘Bugger, he botched the queue!’ this post would have been utterly illegible.

    Lol@Madtante: The Midwest gives good queue!
    Btw, I never did figure out that abbreviation…

    • madtante says:

      To what abbreviation do you refer, or was that bit to me? We may be experiencing an English translation problem. I lived a short time in the UK but hardly speak American English; English-English comes along farther.

      • ravolution says:

        Sorry, i think the problem is far simpler and would have been non-existent had I made sensible and appropriate use of my return key.

        @McBee – Btw, I never did figure out that abbreviation…

      • Makya McBee says:

        The abbreviation in question, TFCMOBFP, can be found in the comments section of MMVTMA (Makya McBee Vs. Text Message Abbreviations) and = Thanks for congratulating me on being freshly pressed. It was meant to be as indecipherable as the texts I see the kids composing. Sorry that the explanation is less interesting than the concept.

  12. Lokyra Stone says:

    I’ve found tasers work wonders on line-cutters. Though I might start carrying a badger just to change things up a bit.

    I’m still puzzled at the people making laws about this…

    • ravolution says:

      Make it a honey badger. If you don’t know it, youtube it, these things are vicious! Queue-jumpers beware!

    • Makya McBee says:

      Redd – Yes, if we all cut it’s not a line and more of a circular dance. (Re: Freshly Pressedness, I’m considering doing a Vs. Being Freshly Pressed because, as cool as it was, it results in such a tremendous drop off in traffic the following day that it’s like detox…but I’m glad for it, brought a fresh wave of commenters such as yourself, glad to have you).

      One Year – Standing “on line” is when the line runs out of space and doubles back upon itself, with some people standing on top of others, like a double decker bus of waiters. Much more uncomfortable, but much more difficult to cut.

      Ravolution – Did I translate that correctly? It was just a guess (I don’t speak British).

      Lokyra – Tasers work wonders on everyone, they’re shockingly effective.

      • Lokyra Stone says:

        What’s really awesome is when people dare the taser holder to taze them. So satisfying to watch….

        Now I have to go find out what a honey badger is…

  13. I also love Angelina’s idea about using wolverines and badgers. I will add to the list-dingoes, jackals, hyenas, snakes on a plane and sharks in water parks.

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