Since childhood, we are all schooled in the laws of the universe. Take for instance Newton’s laws of motion. A body at rest remains at rest and a body in motion remains in motion etc. Or for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Both very real and indisputable, and I accept that. But there are other hard rock facts that have not been recorded as laws that need to be recorded for future generations. Therefore, I am going to establish my own law.
The shortest line will always move the slowest
Am I right or am I right? I hate standing in line. I think it is a carry over from my days in the military where half of my enlistment was spent in a line.
Given the above fact (and soon to be law) you would think that over the years, I would have developed a plan to outwit the system. Sadly, all efforts have failed. When shopping at our local grocery store, I carefully peruse each checkout lane and after many mental calculations, select one. And that is exactly when the checkout fairy shows up and sprinkles us all with pixie dust that slows our progress to glacial speed.
As I stand there behind the other two people in line, I wonder why the woman in front of me keeps looking back in my direction and smiling. That is until I hear an “excuse me” and see her husband standing behind me with an armload of additional product that they didn’t remember they needed until they were in line. Of course I smile and let him by, all the time reminding myself that I am a Christian. That is when the woman reaches into her purse and pulls out the handful of coupons, and I am forced to remind myself again. “Why are you testing me Lord”? That is also when a young cashier opens up the next register and the people behind me scamper to her line. I consider doing something similar, but hey, I am again in the shortest line.
The toughest ones to figure out, at least for me, are banks. Unlike the grocery store and the Post Office, there is no obvious way to judge what the patrons are there to do. Picking the shortest line is often fatal. After entering the door and smugly sliding into the line with only two people in it, and looking around and smiling at the less fortunate in the surrounding lines, you realize that the man that was at the end of the line to your left when you walked in, is now standing directly opposite you. And he is smiling at you. I hate insolence. After several more minutes, your line moves forward and you are next. That is when you see the customer at the window extract three bank bags of receipts from their business to be counted and deposited. That is also when you realize smiley has left the building.
I like the places where you have to take a number better. Or at least I did until the other day. My wife had to go and get her drivers license renewed. We entered the Registrars office about 1:00 P.M. and took a number from the machine. It was 180. After finding a couple of seats, I looked around to see what number they were serving. It was 144. I asked the lady sitting opposite me what her number was and she said 161. I was almost afraid to ask how long she had been waiting, but she volunteered that it had been over an hour. Looking over and seeing seven windows, I felt a little better until I realized that only three of them were manned. Everyone else was at lunch. I did the math and guesstimated that we were not going to get out of there before dark, or closing time, whichever came first. But, sometimes good things come to those who wait, and wait, and wait. A young lady next to me was called and went to a window. A few minutes later, before leaving, she came back and said “I found this laying up there. Apparently someone chose not to wait” and handed my wife ticket number 162. I in turn gave good old 180 to the guy with 194. Hows that for a win win.
But rest assured, my recent good fortune does not change anything. The law stands. So the next time you hear someone complain about how their line doesn’t seem to be moving, you can nod knowingly and say “of course not. That’s Quigleys Law”.