Back during the school system’s fall break, I became quite the expert in waiting in lines, thanks to our pilgrimage to Disney World. We had not been to the parks since my daughter was in elementary school, and I can assure you that waiting in line with a teenager is much easier.
Fast passes are God’s gift to parkgoers, but for those rides with no way to usurp the masses there were all types of configurations to make it interesting. Lines of all types — long single-file, compact double-file, and those steel-bar blockades that would switch back and forth as we were routed among a maze where literally we didn’t move beyond a foot or two with every turn. Whether it was to the new Star Wars ride or to be seated at Cinderella’s Royal Table, we stood in line with only about 50 percent of attractions offering some sort of distraction to take our minds off the wait along the way.
I became curious about this phenomenon of people being willing to line up. According to an article in “Racked” by New York writer Jamie Lauren Keiles, the first recorded line, or queue, was in Thomas Carlyle’s “The French Revolution” in 1837. We, as a society, decided it was worth it for some things (in this case the scarcity of bread), and assigned rules to how the lines would work — i.e. the first-come first-served code of conduct among other rules of engagement. Of course, by now you have already been cut off from the last can of cranberry sauce by a stealth shopper or felt the defeat of seeing only an empty freezer case where the Sister Schubert’s rolls once were aplenty days before.
Chris Weller, author of “Everything about the way we stand in lines is wrong” written for Business Insider back in 2015 dives into the types of lines — particularly the “growing evidence in ‘queueing theory,’ that’s a recipe for inefficiency.” The wasting of precious hours that we will never get back.
Of course, any deviation from the unwritten rules around line etiquette could be at your peril — just ask seasoned Black Friday shoppers.
There are plenty of “law-breakers” out there. It was only yesterday that my husband, Doug, and I went through a whole weekend of lines, and discussions and observations of behavior in said lines.
The first came when we arrived at a new trendy restaurant in Athens, before a University of Georgia football game. As we waited for the table, we approached the bar at the only open slot wide enough for a person to order a drink. We stood there and stood there, smiled and watched as different guests tried different strategies to get the hustling bartenders to notice them and find success in getting a drink.
With some luck, two bar stools eventually opened up and we were home free — or so we thought as we waited a little longer.
By the time we got two glasses we didn’t really care what was inside them, we counted ourselves lucky that we got anything. Finally, with cocktails in hand, we shared with the person waiting over our shoulders what we had observed, and another patron piped up as well on the best strategy in this bar to get served.
“We are just not bar line people,” I later told Doug as I reflected. I can never remember being a favored bar patron despite giving healthy tips for good service. It really doesn’t matter where we stand, it takes forever. He of course shared that his father, Bill, was the type to get waited on. He would walk right up and make eye contact and was sipping a dirty martini before you could say “olive.”
When I looked up tips regarding on how to get served at a crowded bar — it seemed to center around making eye contact with the bartender. Because this is something we already do, I surmise we must be doing it wrong.
Another line in which we spend at least up to 20 minutes once a week is at the deli counter. This same weekend while waiting to purchase the weekly allotment of Boar’s Head Tavern Ham my husband experienced a cut in the line — and what’s worst is that this person was of the high maintenance line jumper variety, ordering multiple meats and cheeses in single slices all the while being completely oblivious to the others who had patiently waited before he walked up.
“I guess I’m not a deli line person, either,” he shared when we met up in the produce section —although he blamed the managers, commenting that they need to improve their line management skills and wishing in this case that there had been a numbering system in place.
Traveling affords the joy of the security wait lines and the process by which each particular zone boards the plane. On a return trip to Atlanta from Phoenix, the airport was employing the use of therapy dogs wearing a special vest that read “Pet Me” before flights as people waited to board the plane. Designed to cheer up and relieve stress for passengers, these furry friends are more and more popular.
Did you hear that the first pig has joined the 22-dog “Wag Brigade” at the San Francisco International Airport? LiLou, a 5-year-old Juliana pig touted as a Certified Animal Therapist, wears a pilot’s cap and has red-painted nails, and even plays a toy piano.
On her website, she includes her story, FAQs, ways to donate and book appearances. Given her popularity with Bay area travelers of all ages, it appears she might just be “bringing home the bacon.” Oops … I might have just crossed the line.
Carla Barnes is a marketing and public relations professional, journalist, writer, community volunteer and Waleska resident.