There is pain in waiting in line. Not a dull pain like a stained ankle. Not sharp, like appendicitis. “Waiting in line” pain is a blend of nervousness, anticipation and the sudden urge to bolt and forget the whole thing.
For me, when I hit the drive-thru, I like to order, pay and go. If there’s a couple ahead of me, I typically forgive them for ruining my day. Most likely, they did not intend to slow me down. Or cause another of my YouTube-worthy, public melt-downs.
Believe me, no one wants to see any more of those.
Take last Tuesday night, my wife and I decided to support our local dining establishments. So we set out at 6:35 to hunt for food.
Lines everywhere. EVERYWHERE! I’m serious. Like cowboys circling a chuck wagon, vehicles surrounded every burger place in town. If there’s anything worse than waiting in a line, it’s when that line is composed of cars. We buy cars to get us to where we want to go, fast. And some are more comfortable than our sofas. But I don’t want to be comfortable when waiting; I don’t want to wait at all.
So the line to get ice cream is long. But, hey, ice cream! A second look leads me to think this must be a diverted funeral procession with the obvious goal of providing the deceased with one more opportunity to get a waffle cone. But one vehicle, a black Suburban, seems to lag. It’s half in the line, half still in the street… and it’s not moving. So there’s a gap in the line. I begin to turn in. No movement from that driver. I told you this was a funeral procession. Just one more little tap on my accelerator would get me in…but, no, at the last moment, the driver put down the phone—yeah, you knew that—and took their rightful position.
I checked... 7:03 pm. I swear this cortege stretched to Saunders County. I’m starting to perspire. My hands grip the wheel for no apparent reason as I certainly am not driving recklessly. In fact, not moving at all. Off the brake at 7:08. Accelerate. Cover eight feet. Take a rest. As long as I am sitting here, I can conceptualize my order. Should I spend a wad of cash? I mean, the goal is to support local business. So six bucks would buy a half-gallon of soft serve, wouldn’t it? 7:10. I haven’t moved because the black Suburban won’t budge. A car has vacated a spot ahead and the Suburban WON’T MOVE UP! Isn’t there a law? Two cars are behind me.
So now, do I get all uppity and spin the wheel, step on the gas and lay a patch as I leave the line? The people in front would get the message that they are too slow but those in the cars behind me would enthusiastically cheer. Fearfully, I hunker down. 7:15. Now I’m one spot from ordering. 7:18...I’m at the menu board. And I forgot what I wanted to order. 7:24. Done ordering. I take my foot off the brake and nearly rear-end the Suburban. Hey, I was just trying to make room for the next guy to order. 7:28. Move up one car length. 7:31. Suburban must be involved in a major conversation. Not moving up again. 7:34. Finally at the window. “Here’s your order, Sir. And we took off twenty cents for the Senior discount.” I thought the idea was for me to spend money, not get a refund. Start to pullout...a semi is the way. Double trailer. Light is red. Perfect.
Don Cunningham of Fremont is a freelance columnist.
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