In my communications classes, we talked about scripts. We use scripts, or knowledge of certain situations, to know how to act. For example, the grocery store, the doctor’s office etc. But crowded public events, such as a farmer’s market, can be a wild card. The best you can do is to try and stay out of one another’s way.
And then there are scripts-within-scripts, like how to line up for something. Full disclosure, this a story about how I made a booboo in a line-up situation, the ultimate booboo: cutting in line.
Now it wasn’t intentional. It was a busy produce stall with merch laid out on tables in a U-shape, with the cashiers in the centre of the U, in the back of the stall. Produce in hand, I scoped out the formation of the line-up. There were the people paying, a couple of people behind them, a couple browsing the lettuce bins, and people just generally milling around on the periphery.
I didn’t know if the lettuce people were browsing lettuce while in line, or just browsing. So I just picked a spot behind the folk who looked definitely to be in line. Cue the woman burning holes in my back with her eyes. I stared back. She says nothing. I say nothing to her.
To the lettuce people, she directs a question, “Are you both in line?”
Lettuce Man replies, “Well we thought we were!” Jocular chuckles.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know,” I offer by way of apology.
I am by now next in line. Burning Eyes summons the courage to speak, “Well now that you do, you should go to the back of the line.”
It was the little skit for my benefit on proper line-up etiquette that burned my organic new potatoes. I completed my wrong by proceeding to the cashier. (Hey, as long as I’ve gone this far…) I knew I was in the wrong. I knew it as soon as Burning Eyes started shooting daggers at me. But no one was willing to simply and directly say, “Excuse me, line-up is over here…” I would have cheerfully corrected myself and waited my turn.
Cutting in line is just not done, I know, I know. But passive-aggressive behaviour in public places – that’s gotta stop, too.