Don’t crowd ahead! Stay in line! Wait your turn! Don’t buck the line! Those are a few of the exhortations that taught children how to behave in polite society when I was growing up. It was an important component in transforming us from little brats to well-mannered adults. We learned the value of waiting our turn from rude people who pushed ahead of us. We didn’t like it! And we didn’t want to be thought of, like we thought of them.
Most people don’t buck the line, but times are changing, bucking the line is becoming an accepted norm. Many people now use Apps on their smart phones that push them to the front of the line. Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, McDonalds, and a host of other food and beverage vendors invite customers to crowd ahead. You notice it; I notice it anyhow, when standing in line at one of those places, waiting patiently to get to the counter to place an order. People pop in the door, walk past the line, grab their order, smile at the line people and stroll out. It makes me wonder if they’re silently muttering, “Sucker,” as they leave.
I could get those Apps, but I don’t want to miss the show, the “watch how people act as they wait in line” show. Sometimes, my fellow line people talk to me while we’re waiting, to grumble about the App users, but more often, to complain about a customer at the front of the line holding us up because he doesn’t know what he wants, is too fussy about the specifics of his order or is searching through his pockets for a 10 percent off coupon.
I’ve made several acquaintances and a few friends, kibitzing in line with “regulars” and watching the show. I can’t let a “buck-the-line” App take that away from me. Besides, it’s good for our well being to slow down, to stop and smell the roses and practice patience. Something that pays dividends when you get in those agonizing lines, like at airport security. Or in life, waiting for “your ship” to come in.
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