Ending up in the wrong line again

    We have all heard the adage “patience is a virtue,” but in this age of instant gratification through the internet and microwaves when we can get anything we want instantly, it takes everything I can muster to remain patient while standing in lines, especially in the grocery store.

    I just came from the grocery store, where I ended up in the wrong line again. Coincidentally, I had recently read an article about lines written by Chris Weller, a Tech Insider who studied the psychology of standing in line. His theory is that line designs waste too much of our time. According to Weller, if we have three lines from which to choose, we pick the fastest line only one in three times. He asserts that all lines should be one big line, which feeds into the various checkouts as they open, much like T.J. Maxx, Best Buy and The Home Store.

    Today, for example, there were more than three lines, so I opted for the shorter line. Wouldn’t you know there was a call for a “price check” in that very line. Losing patience, I hopped over to another line, only to be stalled by a coupon-saving shopper whose items didn’t match the coupons, which resulted in the checker having to pull out the mile-long receipt to review the items. My ice cream melted!

    Having nothing better to do one rainy day, I googled “standing in lines." A plethora of information popped up. I learned there is such a thing as Queue Rage, where people stress over choosing the shortest line. One man was even stabbed in a post-office line by another who was overly concerned about how slowly the line was moving.

    Apparently, some lines are better to be in than others and produce an entire other mind set. For example, those who snake around blocks to be the first to purchase a new edition of the iPhone have more patience. They are standing in line for something coveted. All those people in that line become a member of a community, because what they are seeking is a reward of sorts. They can even engage in techno conversations and debate the pros and cons of one smartphone over another.

    The same goes for concertgoers, and even the kids who stand in line at the Sharc in Sunriver to go down the water slide. Pleasure is at the end of those lines, unlike the annoyance of a DMV line, for example.

    The ingenuity of Japanese scientists beats all when it comes to standing in line for an extended period of time. They have invented a Nissan ProPilot chair, which they would like to install at the outside of any restaurants interested. The autonomous chair is equipped with weight sensors that automatically tell the chair where to go. Customers sit in line in the chair, and it automatically maintains a fixed distance along a set path until, Viola! The customer is at the front of the line, and it is his or her turn to dine.

    With the holiday season in the offing, lines will be a necessary evil, unless, of course, you shop online, which is far better than being in line!

    — Judy Entinger lives in Medford.

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