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.
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.