Line Ups

Is there any greater demonstration of democracy than people standing in line waiting for their turn to order a coffee?  Of course there is, but the political science course I took at university, did not prepare me for any political conversation that could make me sound intelligent.  I vaguely remember hearing about Republics, Parliaments and Dictatorships.  One of those was bad, but can’t remember which one. The truth is I have yet to hear a political conversation that has made anyone sound intelligent.

Lines are with us everyday.  I deliver smartass lines on an hourly basis.  People who don’t know how to dance, join Line Dancing classes to help show, not only their inability to dance, but also their ability to find complete strangers who are willing to share this lack of rhythm while creating a perfect line.

Early schooling taught us that you needed a ruler to draw a perfect line.  Some of us could not afford this luxurious tool, so we cleverly used the edges of hard cover books to draw that line.  When the teacher complicated the request by asking for a perfectly drawn straight 6 inch line, that hard copy book became a little less helpful. As the prospect of geometry entered the curriculum of your mathematics class, parents were forced to buy the critical set of devices to help with our understanding of Pythagorean’s theory.



We line up for movies, we line up at grocery checkouts, we line up with multiple documents to renew our passport, and every visit to a government controlled agency, has line ups going out the door, to ensure every visitor knows how hard it is to work for the government  That hard work does ultimately get rewarded with a life long  pension to recognize the employees who created life long line ups.

Once in while people are so excited to buy something they go to the Apple Store with a chair and blanket, and line up for days before they are given the status of owning the latest version of a phone.

Line contemplation have been expressed in minor musical hits.   While Tommy James and the Shondells (what the hell is a Shondell?) were Draggin the Line, Johnny Cash was Walking the Line, but in the end, most were One Toke over the line, which led to unreliable Line discussions.

Not all line ups are desirable.  If you have ever had to participate in a police line up to determine your resemblance to the criminal, my advice is to try to look as innocent as you can. If you are the guilty one, my advice would be the same.


As we get older the line ups get bigger, and so did the lines on our faces.  Wrinkles tell the others in line, that we had been doing this line up thing for a while.  Our wealth of line experience can help others who stand in line without a clue about the proper way to act.  Now those of you who use your computer to avoid lines, let me remind you that you did line up at Best Buy when you purchased your computer.

Back to the coffee line:  There are many unwritten rules of line etiquette that frankly need to be written down. Like a grocery list, if you rely on your memory to gather the ingredients for your mom’s macaroni recipe, you inevitably forget to buy the noodles.  7 Rules might seem a little aggressive, but when you are in line to buy your morning coffee, your uncaffeinated body borders between aggressive and psychotic..

Rule 1:  When you are 17thin line with your adorable little daughter in her dance lesson outfit, here is an idea.  When you get to the counter to order your drink and donut, don’t do this.  “Well Ashley what do you think you might like to drink and eat this morning?”   Why not have that conversation with your princess, while you are waiting in the line for 10 minutes to give your order.

Rule 2:  When you have given your order and the staff delivers each of your many drinks and special food items, try not to look surprised when they ask you to pay for your purchase.  Fumbling through your purse, to find your wallet, where you finally decide which of your 7 credit cards you will use for the purchase, can really slow things down.

Rule 3:  This one is only for the technically advanced.  Using the latest app, that automatically pays for your 2 dollar coffee, can be a very quick option.  It is not a quick option when you show the employee all the other apps you have on your phone, and insist they follow you on Instagram, because you are going to take a picture of the coffee you just bought.

Rule 4:  After you have made your order for a coffee, and the latest breakfast sandwich available, resist the temptation to add a few things to you order after you have paid.

Rule 5:  During the busy times one long line can end with three open counters to serve.  Now this ending only causes confusion for the next customer. Tragically the person is so confused by the options, they freeze in their spot.  The poor employee has to make hand gestures, call “”Next” in a loud voice making direct eye contact with the coffee customer, just to ensure movement occurs.  Perhaps this was the Shondell’s meaning in their Draggin the Line chorus.

Rule 6:  Holding a spot for another is a pure violation of the lining up procedure.  Being served 12thinstead of 11thfor your morning coffee, has caused wars in countries where lining up to vote is just for show, as the Russians had predetermined the election results months ago.

Rule 7:  The most controversial coffee line rule occurs when the system goes down.  Hand written signs declare cash only for purchases.  This creates massive confusion in a line, as people search their pockets and purses for something financial advisors call “money”.  This situation often brings out the best in humanity as others pay for line up colleague’s orders, and phrases like “random acts of kindness” and “pay it forward” temporarily replace “hurry up” and “it’s my turn!”

Rule 7 can offer a sign of hope as line-ups can occasionally bring out the best in people. To offer a little balance let me counter this with, in my observation, the line up that displays the worst in people. If you want to see human beings behave badly go to a buffet line.  Specifically go the The Mandarin, just as the Crab Legs are being topped up for the buffet.  Plates will be piled up so high, you can’t see the person holding the plate. The excited person behind you discovers they will not be getting crab legs today, as “first come, first served” means you get all the crab legs.

If the ending here makes me sound crabby, I will quote the great Greek Philosopher Aristophanes, who wrote what scholars called “Ancient Comedy.”   Ancient Comedy is many things, old, classic, historical and bellicose.  One thing ancient comedy isn’t, is funny.

“You cannot teach a crab to walk straight”. Aristophanes


Cue the Blong.  Well this song is a triple threat.  1st: I reversed the chords of Proud Mary for the melody.  2nd:  The lyrics pretty well sum up my working life.  3rd:  The title is a tribute to all those currently feeling a sense of Entitlement to anything….  As a  bonus I try to sing a note I cannot hit.  The connection: “Windy people moving in a line…”

















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