Line Cutting

We all know that I have a problem with line cutting.  My recent spiral of self-pitying ridiculousness started because I allowed my intolerance of line cutting to run away from me.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to harp on that whole episode again, I’m going down a different road with this.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Indomaret buying something, I don’t remember what now, maybe my 1 roll of toilet paper..  It was evening, around 7 pm, and I was waiting in line to pay.  There was 1 person ahead of me in the checkout line when a woman walked into the store.  She got whatever she wanted to buy.  Then just as the guy in front of me finished checking out and I was getting ready to step up to the cashier, she walked right past me and up to the counter to check out.  Seriously, I was about to go dark on her, because what the heck?  Not even, “Excuse me”? I know for a fact that I’m not invisible and it was very obvious that I was waiting to pay and leave.

But with the Medan airport incident and my subsequent mire of shame still fresh in my mind, I took a deep breath, let her have her way, and continued to wait my turn, though I admit that I wasn’t gracious about it (there may have been some side eyes and muttering).

As I was walking back to the centre, I started thinking about why I find line cutting so boorish and intolerable.  I don’t think I’m unique in this particular intolerance.  In fact, I personally don’t know one Jamaican who can endure line cutting without opening their mouth and saying something to let the line cutter know that they need to move back or get a tongue lashing.  This goes for grocery store lines, bank lines or traffic lines.  There’s just something in our DNA that abhors this behaviour, and the most rational Jamaican will become hawkish about letting someone get in front of them in line if they feel they are being cut.  On the other hand, if someone is trying to cut in line but they ask permission to do it, we will, more often than not, graciously allow them in front of us.

And that right there is what helped me get to the bottom of why I’m so intolerant of line cutting.

I think the first problem is that line cutting shows lack of manners and courtesy.  This may seem like a small thing but manners and courtesy help smooth our path through the day.  Think of how much better the service you receive if you greet your server politely, or how much better you feel about using a service if you’re greeted politely.  Ever entered an office and said, “Good morning,” and received no answer?  I bet you that ended with you repeating your greeting at the top of your lungs or muttering under your breath about how these people have no manners.  See?  Manners and courtesy.

The second problem is the lack of respect that line cutting implies.  Basically, the line cutter is saying that they have no respect for the time that the more disciplined among us have spent waiting in line.  They’re saying that they have zero regard for following the rules that the rest of us live by.  They’re straight up saying that whatever they have to do is far more important than anything the rest of us in line have to do, so it’s OK for us to stand around waiting but it’s definitely not OK for them.

As I walked back to the centre, contemplating that rude woman and how I could have allowed her behaviour to annoy me and ruin part of my night, I felt empowered.  I’ve been a slave to the expectations that I set for other people, such as expecting them to have manners and courtesy and respect, and not try to cut in front of me in line.  But I think I’m breaking free from that; some people are rude and boorish and disrespectful, and I can’t allow them to influence how I feel or how I conduct myself.  They shouldn’t have that power over me.

And yes, I can hear you saying, “But Kris, some things are just wrong and you need to say something about it sometimes.”  Absolutely, you’re right.  But is a rude person cutting me off in a line really that important a battle to fight?  I’ve decided that it’s not.  By cutting me off in line, they’re showing me something about themselves.  I can decide to show them something more attractive by graciously allowing them to go ahead.  That’s what I’ve decided to do from now on.  Even if they don’t recognise my magnanimity, I’m not doing it for them, I’m doing it for me.  I think this will be really good for my blood pressure and for my mental health overall.

Line cutters, please go right ahead.  I can wait.


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