It seems we never stop waiting for something

Published 9:35 am Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I was waiting to wait.

I had to wait in line just to get to wait in line. The line was that long. It was made up of people all facing the same direction.

Waiting in line is the price we pay for our oxygen intake.

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I suppose it’s good for the country. It gives folks an opportunity to socialize without relying on social media.

We are all equals in line. We wait our turns. It reminds me of an Irish toast that I heard on a St. Patrick’s Day sometime, somewhere. Dung hills rise and castles fall. We are all equal, one and all.

There are fewer businesses, and there are bigger stores. The longer lines are unintended consequences. This line was moving as if it were a string being pushed.

Standing in line isn’t bad if there is something to lean against. I’m a trained leaner.

The problem is that Americans think an exceptionally long wait is two minutes.

I was waiting in line to pick up my lottery winnings. Or maybe it was to pay for an oil change on my new Mercedes. Perhaps I was in line to the bank’s “gigantic deposits only” window. I wish.

No, I was either waiting to buy a day-old doughnut or to pay for gas and get the free potato given with each fill.

The line moved slower than my family’s spelling bee. I’d have cried myself to sleep if I hadn’t just gotten up.

What do you do while you’re waiting in line? Put your cellphone to work? Ponder as to what you might be doing if you weren’t standing in line. Stare at the person ahead of you and wonder what his story is? Do a little song and dance? Schedule a strategic planning meeting with the workers of your ant farm? Face backwards? Start a rumor and see how it morphs by the time you reach the front of the line? Maybe you practice what you’re going to say when you get to the head of the line? That might make you a hero if the clerk was having her worst day ever until you said something brilliant that changed not only her attitude, but also her life. You could be like the Lone Ranger except instead of leaving a silver bullet, you’d leave the healing power of a redemptive word.

I stood in line with no strategy in place. I didn’t get into that position deliberately. I got there by accident. I had no mission statement. That’s not entirely true. I’d planned on buying some shoestrings and tying one lengthwise across my billfold and the other crosswise. Then whenever I was about to purchase something, I’d have to free my wallet from its bindings. I’d have additional time to determine if I really needed whatever it was.

At least it wasn’t Black Friday when the lines are longer than the Great Wall of China.

I once waited 45 minutes to be seated in a restaurant. The food was good, but not 45-minutes-waiting-in-line good.

We do what we must do, not always what we want to do, but I’m passionate about not waiting in line.

There is an old Turkish proverb that declares, “No matter how far you’ve gone down the wrong road — turn around.”

It was too late. I couldn’t turn around. There were people behind me.

You have to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. I stood steady in line. I held ’em, but I wanted to move up quickly in the line.

My mother told me to never butt ahead in line. She said that nobody would like me if I did. She added that the only time it was OK to cut in line was if I were on fire.

I loved my mother and she gave great advice, but it hurt when she scraped the “Proud Parent” bumper sticker off her car.

I stood in line, listening to one-sided phone conversations of others. Someone should do a TV reality show about standing in line. I hoped that the clerk wouldn’t be one who made everyone feel like a piece of meat at a vegetarian convention and wore a T-shirt reading, “I can make only one person happy and I choose me.”

After several eternities, I made it to the head of the line.

“What took you so long?” said the clerk with a smile.

We wait in line.

We grouse about it, but we get over it.


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.