Jan 11, 2012

Line Dancing

My biggest pet peeve by far is someone standing too close behind me in line.  'Pet peeve' is not an adequate term to portray how this practice affects me.  'Pet' sounds a bit cute, conjuring images of kittens and puppies, "These are my pet cats, Peeve and Mild Irritation. And 'peeve' is a bit polite and formal. When someone stands up close and personal near my back side, peeved is not what I feel. Angry might begin to approach the feeling; on the verge, postal, those are more the emotions running through my veins. And yes, anxious in a completely over-the-top way.  I absolutely hate it! I scooch forward to put some distance between us.  They scooch too.  I scooch a little more.  They follow like we're in a slow motion bunny hop.  Their idea of an appropriate amount of space between two people in line is none. My idea is the length of a large living room.

Many offenders, of course, are the line equivalent of tailgaters. They cannot wait to get to the head of the line and they think they can somehow push the line forward by closing the gap between their front and my back.  Just like in driving, tailgating is more than a bit sexually aggressive, which is maybe why men who stand too close behind me bother me more than women.  (Oh, I can hear you out there analyzing me.  If you have any insights, please email me, it's cheaper than therapy.)

And there are the just plain rude types. In the grocery store, for example, I unload my items on the conveyor and wait, cart ahead of me, for the person checking out to run their credit card or pay in cash, get their receipt, and move on. Meanwhile, someone comes up behind me, often running into me with their basket, unloads their items, reaching past me to open areas of the conveyor belt in front of me, even though I'm incapable of moving forward, and then stands as close as possible behind me.  Me: their obstacle to checking out.  When I'm trying to run my credit card and sign in the impossible-to-decipher little electronic box, the tailgater is standing close enough to connect the freckles on my hand and sign the box for me.  Oh, and read my credit card numbers. Back off, buster!

Then there are the people who create their own lines.  They aren't content with the linear construct the three or more of you have formed.  They want to create a new adjunct line, a second line with a view of what's happening up front.  Even in a store like my local Walgreens, with an actual "Line Forms Here" sign and a set of posts to follow, some jerk will come along and stand off to the side, bouncing around like they're on speed, muddying the line waters and causing the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up. This is also the type of person who thinks that the single long line of polite people waiting for a set of registers is composed entirely of people too stupid to spread out.  Why look at all that open space!  There's no line over by that register, I'll stand over there! It's a wonder more of these interlopers don't get clocked with a six pack of beer or pelted with school supplies. Does line jumping happen at places that actually sell firearms and live ammunition?


  1. It's NOT just you. It is me too. Rainy weather offers the best defense: Get yourself an umbrella - not one of the short collapsable kinds - and when in line tuck the furled umbrella under your arm with it sticking out behind you so anyone getting too close will be impaled. How do you feel about people who wait until they are told how much their purchase will cost before beginning to look for their money or credit card. And the ones who are paying with money usually want to count out at least a dollar in change, digging each penny and nickel one at a time from their pockets or purse.

  2. And maybe in the dry seasons a sword in a very long scabbard?