After tying double knots in our shoelaces and crying to get what we want, the art of lining up is one of the first lessons we learn as a child. We lined up for lunch, we lined up for field trips, and we lined up for class photos. The process was designed to teach order, patience, and how to alphabetize by last name.
With my above-average height and “T” surname, I spent most of my childhood bringing up the rear. So I used my unique vantage point to perfect the art of lining up. From line selection to line merging to line waiting, I’m now a calm collected pro. And as we’re all aware that grown-up lines tend to entail more chaos and frustration than the lines of yesteryear, I’d love to bestow some of the rules I’ve set for myself to ensure a peaceful line-going experience:
Rule #1: Don’t be sucked in by the shortest option. Eight business women in flip flops waiting for TSA screening always beats a four-member family wearing matching t-shirts.
Rule #2: People watch. Families usually equal one line item and friends are most often an individual head count. While it may be unappealing to wait for popcorn behind a gaggle of Shrek 11 watchers, it will probably be the fastest option.
Rule #3: On the flipside, no matter how small, never ever ever get behind a group of unattended kids at the grocery store. They are paying separately and likely using quarters.
Rule #4: Pick a lane. Whether you’re navigating rush hour or having each of your friends man a line until one starts moving more quickly, the six seconds you may save aren’t worth the frustration. More importantly – you’re driving everyone else crazy.
Rule #5: Avoid mob mentality. People seem to really enjoy making up one line to feed into what are really multiple lines. Confidently waltz up to the open register/terminal/what-have-you and do your business. Be prepared for death stares from wished-they’d-thought-of-it-first strangers.
Rule #6: If there’s a fork in the line for your roller coaster ride and everyone seems to veer right, don’t assume they know something you don’t. Assume they are cattle and move away from the herd.
Rule #7: Give the pre-thank-you-wave. They may not have planned to let you merge. They may not want to let you merge. They may curse you for the next forty-five minutes for making them let you merge. But you did the pre-thank-you-wave so your conscience is clear.
Rule #8: Have something better to do. Whether it’s talking on the phone, checking your Pinterest feed, or reading the t-shirt of the guy in front of you, find something to occupy your time so you’re less frustrated by the woman whose fourteen friends just joined her in front of you. Plus, this allows you to avoid pre-thank-you-waves from others.
Rule #9: Remember that annoyance is annoying. Your foot tapping and under-breath mumbling about slow cashiers and idiot customers just proves you have nothing better to do. Relocate behind someone with an interesting shirt to read.
Rule #10: Don’t be “that guy/gal.” Take off your shoes for TSA, have your entire party present at the hostess stand, know which drink you want at the bar, and have your ticket out at the movie theater.
What keeps you sane (or drives you nearly insane) whilst waiting in line?