While Jennifer Brandt and I prepare to shoot our next “Manners Monday” installment, this week I thought I’d post a fun clip from one of my favorite shows that consistently deals with life’s every day annoyances. If you’ve taken any of my manners classes, you’d know that I am constantly citing “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” for the relentless inappropriate behavior that is magnified in each episode. This segment entitled, “Sample Abuser” is one of my favorites because it deals with one of the top 5 everyday annoyances which is the act of standing in line. Larry David is beside himself because he is forced to stand in line while a woman in front of him samples more than her fair share of yogurt flavors before placing her order.
Being the New Yorker that I am, I could totally relate. I must admit that standing in line like cattle is not one of my favorite things and I usually do everything in my power to avoid it. I think the thing that drives me the most crazy is the fact that the attendant behind the counter, whether it be at a pharmacy, the post office or the yogurt shop, is usually oblivious to the number of people waiting in line. They always seem to be moving in slow motion as if they are stuck in some alternate universe. I personally think that so much anxiety could be eliminated if the attendant would just acknowledge the people in line and make mention of how quickly they intend to help everyone, but this rarely, if ever, happens.
In an effort to keep calm in these situations, here are a few manners tips I find helpful, as well as several etiquette rules for standing in line and not offending others.
1. Bring reading materials. I do not go anywhere without something to read. I keep magazines, newspapers and books in my car in the event I am forced to wait around for any reason. I use it as a good excuse to catch up news and current events.
2. Assume the worst. Give yourself plenty of time and be prepared to stand patiently in line for 20 to 30 minutes. You never know? If you are prepared to stand in line for a while, the universe may reward you by presenting you with no line at all.
3. Take a breath and count to ten. No one enjoys it, but complaining, pushing and crowding in line does not make waiting any easier. It only makes everyone else in line feel uncomfortable too!
4. Get to the point. When you finally get to the front of the line, do not engage in a lengthy discussion as this is often burdensome to the attendant and inconsiderate of those waiting behind you. Get what you came for and get out.
5. Standing in Line 101. (A) It is never okay to cut the line. A person who tries to work their way ahead of the others is particularly offensive. (B) If you are holding a place for someone else, explain this to the people behind you, but never hold places for a group as it is unfair to others who are waiting. (C) If someone is holding a place for you, it is courteous to thank the people behind when you arrive. (D) It is a simple courtesy to let a stranger go ahead of you, such as in line at the grocery store, if a person has only a few items to purchase.
Have other great tips for survival while standing in lines? Know any crazy standing in line stories? Please share with us. We’d love to hear from you!