Why do people crowd you while you’re waiting in line? When you’re at the amusement park and the approximate waiting time is forty-five minutes, standing within an inch of the person in front of you doesn’t make the line go faster. Piling your groceries on the check stand conveyer with one hand and pushing your cart forward with the other as the person ahead of you completes his purchase, gathers his groceries, and puts his wallet away, doesn’t make you check out faster. Don’t risk clipping his heel with your cart. It’s not worth the aggravation and risk of uncomfortable confrontation.
A few years ago my husband and I were at the airport, waiting to check in for our flight. The day we departed the computer systems were down and the airline personnel had to hand write and tag the luggage. What would normally be a relatively short wait turned into a two-and-a-half-hour fiasco. To make matters worse three very drunk, very loud couples (travelling to France for a cruise, as everyone within thirty feet quickly learned) stepped in line behind us. My husband is patient. I am not. I was holding my own and politely glancing behind me listening to the unintelligible dialogue and inhaling the liquor aroma from the intoxicated group.
If we moved forward three inches it seemed as if they moved forward five. My patience was waning. Then it happened: their cart piled high with luggage clipped my husband’s heel. Although my husband is patient, and has a long fuse, eventually if the fuse is left to burn too long there could be an explosion. I took a deep breath while my husband turned slowly to face the silvery haired man with an overly-styled silvery beard and said: “You had better back off.” One woman, whose arm was in a cast, slurred: “You guys don’t like to have fun.” To which I responded: “We like to have fun. We don’t make fools of ourselves in public.” Fortunately, one of the slightly less drunk members of their party apologized and de-escalated the situation. Shortly thereafter we reached the check-in counter and the agents were eyeing us to see if some intervention was necessary. Not wanting to risk additional delay, and possibly missing our respective flights, all parties backed off. I’m sure the three couples continued to annoy those around them (probably tooting the whole flight to Paris – you really have to read my post on in-flight tooting) while we had to de-stress before ours.
The whole scene could have been avoided if the party just kept a safe distance. About a year later my husband and I saw the silvery-haired man and his wife at a concert. He was standing in line waiting to use the men’s restroom; his wife was standing in line waiting to use the women’s restroom. Both were drunk. Both were crowding the people in front of them. Well, leaning, really, but not talking. We just shook our heads and walked away (although secretly we wanted to see one of them fall or trip, or get tripped by someone).
Don’t be these people. Give the world around you a little space. No one wants to know what you’ve been eating, or drinking, or what kind of deodorant or laundry detergent you use. If someone can feel your breath on the back of his neck you’re too close. If any part or your body, or extension thereof (like a shopping cart or handbag) touches the person in front of you, you’re too close. When you’re in line (at the theater, airport, sports stadium, hotel, bank, convenience store, taxi stand, or take-out restaurant) and you end up next to the person ahead of you, you’re too close. Trying to push the whole crowd forward doesn’t make the line go any faster and likely can lead to something unpleasant. Please stop.