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waiting in line… the mentality and the reality

June 2, 2013

Americans don’t like to wait.   Ever.  Our expectation is that what we want will be waiting for us, or open to us, immediately.  Sometimes, though, even Americans have to wait.  And sometimes that experience includes a line. 

Watch several groups approach a line situation, say an entrance to a stadium..  Everyone is walking along at their own pace, until they become aware of the other groups approaching…   Eyes stealthily appraise the distance, who will get to the end of the line first?  Can they be overcome or is the disparity too great.  One group increases speed, or changes angle and all the groups around adjust accordingly, speeding up, increasing stride length or falling in behind… but ahead of the next groups.

An end of line is a fluid thing, an advance member of one group staking out position, which allows the others to join, but only if the line has not firmed up behind, because then it is cutting…  When several individuals from competing groups reach end of line at the same time, there is the dance of civilized behavior competing with line status.  Intrigueing to watch our manners conflict with our desires.

Depending on the cirucumstance, acqaintances may be made, conversations enjoyed, but only once line status is established.  If the ‘who was first’ equation is murky, there will be no pleasantries and there may even be body language or subtle line aggression between groups.  Small children who are cute and not crying may advance the status of one group.  Perceptions of class or ethnicity may keep one group on the fringe for the duration. 

Yesterday the ‘line’ was for samples at Costco.  Free tends to bring out the worst line manners in us all.  Varying ages and cultures have very different attitudes and expectations of the line process.  Yesterday the most intense line was for the Magnum ice cream bars, double belgium chocolate with carmel sauce wrapped around premium ice cream on a stick.  On sale 12 for $8.00.   Add shopping carts used as positional aids and the limited speed of the bar cutter, not lovely.

A video would have shown some patiently waiting, some edging in from the sides to grab, some walking away and returning, hoping for a better position when the next bar was served.  Probably some showing up for seconds or even thirds, the ice cream was THAT good.  I was a patient waiter, edging to the side to block the pre-teens attempting to edge into a share of my bar! 

Seriously, why not just buy a box and move on?  Because one bar is over 300 calories and 12 bars would be 3600 very dangerous calories living temporarily in my freezer.  The tension of the line was the only choice, one lovely bite the prize.

(author’s note:  writing for me is working out well, trying to determine whether the writing is effective and interesting to a wider audience, is more confusing.  The story was about Costco, was the build up too long and too far removed from the story?  Just so hard to know.)


From → Blogging, Food, Writing

  1. Debi permalink

    I love it! That is what a line for the “good samples” looks like on a weekend. I just avoid the lines because I know that to taste some of those offerings might spur me into buying-esp the magnum bars-those things are DANGEROUS (for me anyway).

    Keep writing -I love the observations!

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