September 23rd, 2019


Standing in Line

By G. E. Shuman
I remember that, many years ago, a pastor friend of mine said that he got many of his best sermon ideas from tea bags. He wasn’t reading tea leaves or anything, but reading the tags that a certain brand of tea uses on their tea bags. You know, he was talking about the ones with the little proverbial sayings on them. Anyway, at the time I thought it was fascinating that he not only did that, but that he shared that information with me.

I don’t get ideas for this column from tea bags, mainly because I don’t drink tea unless I am sick, and not very often, even then. I will admit that some of my columns do generate from thoughts of one thing or another either shared with me in passing, or shared with me in an email. Yes, I do still use email, as old fashioned as that might seem to some. I have not graduated to social media, and have no intention to do so. I’ve heard that facebook is also becoming outdated and quaint; something only old ladies use, and I’m not an old lady. I’m waiting for the next revolution in communication, so that I can refuse to use that, also. (Don’t mess with old people.)

The other day I did receive an interesting email from a friend, with a list of admonitions to younger people regarding things that happen to us when we’re growing older, as both of us, somehow, seem to be doing. One thing that caught my eye on that list was the idea that, when you are older, “Fewer things are worth standing in line for.” I immediately said ‘Amen!’ to that, and also immediately decided to write this column.

It really is true. The older I get, the fewer things are worth standing in line for. I think that the ’14 items or less’ aisles in my favorite supermarket are a great idea, but I’ve always wondered how they came up with the idea of ‘14 items’ in the first place. Personally, I think it should be 3 items or less in that aisle, for this reason. People my age might not mind standing behind a shopping cart full of groceries, driven by a young woman with a screaming child in the seat of the cart, if we have 14 items to buy. For me, it’s kind of fun to be behind that woman in such a situation, and make stupid faces at the kid. I can’t spank him, but somebody should. I absolutely refuse to get myself into one of those lines if I have only 2 or 3 things to buy. I want to see a 3 items or less checkout in my supermarket.

Super stores, big box stores, and such monstrous places are even worse. I don’t even go to those unless I intend to buy a cart full of whatever stuff it is I went there for. If I was alone, I could save my list up for a year or so, to do that. If I do any substantial shopping in one of those stores it means that my wife is there with me, and I can sometimes wander off while she checks out, AFTER I help her get that cart full of stuff onto the checkout counter. (That reminds me, in all sincerity, I used to have a brother-in-law who would stand in line at a store with my sister, and pass gas as she placed their items on the counter to check out. He would then silently walk away, leaving her alone there with the ‘goods’. This could explain why I ‘used’ to have this brother-in-law.)

Fast food restaurants, these days, are also on my list of places I have trouble standing in line for. In these establishments, the line of customers is rarely the problem, I have found. It’s just that some of the people working in those, these days, don’t seem to understand that I am there to get a burger, or whatever, and not to hear them talk about their girlfriend/boyfriend, whatever the case may be, to a fellow employee, or, worse, to watch them text that girl/boy WHILE talking to a fellow employee. The idea that the customer pays their wages never seems to enter some of those people’s heads, I have thought, as I’ve waited to order my food. Lately I’ve taken to using the drive through windows if I decide to go there for food. (I might still have to wait, but at least I can sit in my car for the duration, and I don’t have to watch some teenager scowl in disgust over his/her phone.)

In all of this, I’m not sure if I have just become more curmudgeonly and impatient as time has passed, or if lines really were shorter and service better years ago. As with most things, it is probably a bit of both. I might just go over and order a cheeseburger and coffee, and try to figure that out. I also might not. One thing is for sure. I have fewer days ahead of me than behind me, and some things are just not worth standing in line for.

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