How Not to Wait in Line


So, I drove up to our corner gas station for my daily dose of Diet Pepsi.  I walked in with my empty extra large cup and refilled it with icy brown goodness.  I slipped the straw gently into the perforated cross on the lid and walked back up towards the front of the store.  It had been a long day.  I was looking forward to checking out and heading home to celebrate the fact I was done with work.  At that moment, the front doors whooshed open and this guy ran in and got into line ahead of me.

Normally, this is not a big deal.  It wasn’t like he was cutting in line.  I was still a few steps away from the register.  Still, there is a certain protocol that should be followed when you are in the lead position in line.  The guy had gas, but decided to read through the newspapers in the wire rack next to the counter.  Fine.  That’s why they put them there.  They are an impulse buy.  I’ve glanced at many a headline in my day, but – really – I believe if you need to pick up the paper and open it up so you can continue reading inside, buy the paper.

The Sun Times was returned to its place when he noticed the rolls of lottery tickets in their clear Plexiglas display, looking all the world like the dials on a slot machine.  If you are in line for gas, I believe it is perfectly acceptable to add a lottery ticket to your purchase.  However, a line leader should have – as a minimum in my opinion – the basic knowledge of how lottery tickets work.  It’s a clear violation of line etiquette if you ask question after inane question.  How much can I win?  Are they all scratch-off?  Can I cash them in here at the gas station?  Are some better than others? By this time, I wasn’t the only one standing behind him in line.  And I wasn’t the only one annoyed by his conduct.  I believe I heard death threats muttered behind me in at least two languages.

Eventually the guy bought a lottery ticket.  I half expected him to pay by a low numbered check, but he surprised me and used a credit card.  I paid for my pop and jogged back to my truck.  Normally my journey to the gas station takes about ten minutes from start to finish.  Seventeen minutes had already elapsed.  I drove down the exit lane and stopped where it met the road.  Normally, I go left to go home.  However, it was near the end of the day and traffic – such as it is in Belvidere – was reaching its peak.  It might take me some time to turn left.  While it was a shorter distance to drive, I might be better off turning right and then making a left at the stoplight.  I have to admit that I pondered this conundrum longer than I would normally because Lottery Ticket Man was sitting behind me in line.  I felt embarrassed and ashamed and guilty.  I felt silly and small for exacting such a petty revenge.

And I continued to feel this way for exactly four minutes.  That was how long I waited until I finally turned and let him escape.

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