Crossing the line

Apparently I:

a) attract freaks like shit attracts flies

b) do not understand line protocol

c) attract freaks like shit attracts flies


 Although I had no problem waiting in line for hours for the Dashboard shows, every time I’m in line with an old person there is an issue.


Today I’m at the post office. The line is separated by the grimy glass door because the post office is tiny. Only 6 people can wait inside. The rest of us wait on the other side.  


The man in front of me waits on the outside until there is enough room for him to move inside without getting knocked over by the door. That’s what everyone does. It’s proper line etiquette. It has worked for scores of folks before us.


I wait. I am joined by an Elderly black woman. She’s wearing a head-scarf and devising a strategy.


 “Move in and stand to the side. We can both move in and then we’ll be behind that man,” she says.

“What? Excuse me?  No, I’m fine where I am. I’ll move in when there’s room,” I tell her.

“We can stand in there and get in line behind that man when the line moves up,” she says again.

“I’m fine where I am. I don’t see the point,” I say.


She shoves past me, goes through the door and stands in front of the supplies. Eventually the line moves ahead and I join the line on the inside. There still isn’t room for her. She continues lurking in front of the supplies. No one can get through to get their green return receipt cards and priority mail labels but she doesn’t give a crap. She has a plan and she’s sticking with it. She’s staying the course like our [fine] President.


I think to myself that she probably buys canned peaches and eats them while she’s watching Fox. She has little throw rugs all over her house and fruit magnets on her refrigerator. She never throws anything away because she likes clutter. She saves all her bills in their original envelopes even though she’s already paid them…


Now there are 5 people on the other side of the door. I note with satisfaction that none of them comes through the door to join her. She is a cluster of one and she’s in the way. A heavy woman and little kid eventually squeeze in behind me. The kid plays with the door, opening it and closing it. The clerk yells at them to keep the door closed because the air conditioning is on.


The line expert shoves between the heavy woman and me. I think she just tapped my shoulder? I look at my shoulder.


“See what I was sayin’ about waiting inside. That’s what I meant,” she says. 

“I understood what you meant, but I didn’t think it was necessary. I know how to wait in line. I come here all the time. It doesn’t bother me to wait outside until it’s my turn,”  I reply.

“Well ‘scuse me for tryin’ to be friendly. I just thought it was better to wait in here. Praise be to God and Jesus.”

She really said that…I raise my eyebrows and say “Yeah, yeah. Praise be to God and all that.”

“I was just tryin’ to help. Forgive me. Forgive me Lord for tryin’. I’m so sorry if I offended…just tryin’ to help…I thought…didn’t mean to…”

I look at her. I look at her packages. I wonder what it is with old people and lines and packages.


She continues to mumble quietly to herself. I try to ignore her. Every now and then she sighs and says “Lord Jesus” for no apparent reason.


And thank you Lord because now it’s my turn. I walk away thinking that I must cultivate a stony look. I will practice in front of the mirror. I will learn to be inapproachable. I will learn how to look stern and authoritative. No one will challenge my space. No one will question my line protocol. No one will dare cross that line.


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