Waiting in Line

If you ever want to get anything done in human society, it is inevitable that you will have to wait in line at some point. I was going to amend that sentence to say, “if you want to get anything done in modern human society,” but when I think about it I am sure that standing in queue is not a modern invention. I would bet that cavemen had to wait in line to use the good rock.


It wasn’t a very long line.

The last time I stood in line, I was waiting at the movie theatre. I thought it curious that the line stretched to block the arcade games in the theatre lobby. That seems like really poor planning, if you want people to play the games. Then again, I have been in that theatre many times, and have never seen anyone playing those games. Not even when the line doesn’t block them. It is like the games are placed so they can entertain the people in line, but nobody dare play them and risk losing their place. The only thing worse than waiting in line is to have to go to the end of a line you were already waiting in.

It was also interesting that from the movie line I was standing in, I could also see the line at concessions. Standing in line is already like its own little, self-contained world. When we wait in line long enough, we begin to think that the world outside the line is a myth. These thoughts are only confirmed when the only other human beings we can see from the line are standing in another line. For all we know, beyond that is yet another line, and another, and they are probably all moving faster than ours is.

People in Line

“Lets attack those people in the other line!”

We wait in line all the time, but there is no standard for what we are waiting for. It makes sense to wait in line for something that you actually want, like a movie or a ride, but often we wait in line for things we really don’t want at all. There are the lines for official business, like waiting at the DMV. Another example that comes to mind is waiting at a stoplight. In that case, you are waiting to not be waiting anymore.

Waiting rooms are yet another example. Nobody wants to spend time in a waiting room. They make it comfortable, with nice chairs and magazines, and try to trick us into thinking we are just waiting for their appointment. Waiting for an appointment doesn’t sound as bad as waiting in line, but really we are still waiting in line. It’s just a nice line we can sit down in.

Even when we are waiting for things we actually want, there are attempts to trick us into thinking we aren’t standing in line at all. Disneyland and other amusement parks are masters at this. They almost make standing in line an art form. I just hope they don’t get too good at it, and make the lines themselves into attractions. If I am ever standing in line and realize that I am waiting for my turn to stand in a different, but slightly more interesting line, I will probably freak out. If I go crazy, though, I won’t get to see what is at the end of the line, and will have wasted all that time waiting.

Then there are the lines for the TV contests like American Idol. These shows are fond of showing shots of the gigantic line stretching out into the street. I always think that if I am ever in one of those TV lines, I will hold up a sign that reads, “I don’t know what this line is for.” Either that, or when I finally get my turn in front of the judges, I will ask with incredulity, “You mean, this isn’t the line for the bathroom?”