Waiting In Line

Lines – the true tester of one’s patience. I hate lines so much that I make a point of looking to see if the service I need can be done online. The worse lines are still at the DMV and the bank, but I am thankful that most of those things can be done online or through the mail. However, the one thing I still find myself standing in line for is food, especially when I am at work. This brings me to the reason I decided to write this blog entry.

Two days ago on Monday I had just got my food and paid for it without any problems. I was going to be working until late in the evening, so I decided to get lunch, a few snacks, and another plate for dinner. This meant that my dinner plate would need to be covered with plastic wrap, so I stand behind the person using the wrap, thereby forming a line.

When she is done with her plastic wrap, some guy comes and eases right in front of me, and gets his plastic wrap. He didn’t acknowledge me at all and acted like I wasn’t there. Then he proceeded to take way longer than it should take a person to pull off a piece of plastic and wrap the plate. But wait, he wasn’t done yet. He then pulled another piece of wrap off. I really would not have cared as much if he would have quickly pulled the plastic off and gone about his business, but he took forever in plastic-wrapping time.

I don’t know why I didn’t say anything to him. Last week I had no problem telling a lady that I was next in line when we were checking out. She was trying to put her fruit up to be loaded on the scale next, but I had something that needed to be weighed on the scale so I politely told her to move it. Then she says, “Oh. Were you in front of me,” and I said yes. So I’m not sure what held me back from telling this idiot that I was next in line for the plastic wrap.

I know some of you are thinking, ‘Flo, it’s just plastic wrap. Let it go,’ but it’s not just about the plastic wrap. It truly is the principal of the thing. For one thing, he is a man and I am a woman. What happened to those days when men were concerned about women going first, especially if she is before him in a line? Such a thing would have never happened just a few decades ago. Now, men have lost all respect for women, and that is not restricted to cutting women in lines.

This isn’t the first time a man has cut in front of me in a line. This time I was at my local grocery store. I wasn’t the only one waiting in line in the self-checkout isle, but I was next. Then this guy walked right past all of us and went straight to the next available machine. I didn’t say anything that time either, and neither did the person working there who was supposed to be preventing such things from happening. However, the woman behind me did say in a very audible voice, “So much for chivalry.” I laughed at her bold words and hoped that the man not only heard them, but knew she was talking about him. Indeed, what happened to chivalry?

Then there was another time within the last two months where I was back at the same grocery story waiting at the customer service counter because they charged me about $6 too much for broccoli. Not only was the line long, but it was moving ridiculously slow. It seems like everyone chose that day to to play the lottery scratch off tickets and send or receive a Money Gram. Anyway, not wanting to wait in the line, an old lady went straight to the counter and asked if she could be served. The employee said that she had to wait in line and couldn’t cut. Honestly, I was so happy that the employee said that because Lord knows what everlasting task she was there for.

What is going on here? I really do believe that the woman that tried to go in front of me at the cafeteria truly was mistaken but what excuse is there for two men and old lady who blatantly disregard the rules of a line and headed straight to the front? The plastic wrap man couldn’t say he didn’t see me because I was standing close enough to the woman getting plastic wrap that there is no way he could not have seen me. The man at Kroger couldn’t say he didn’t see the line because there were about four people waiting. As for the old lady, that line was visible from the other side of the store.

I am about to say something very controversial, but I think cutting in lines boils down to a feeling of entitlement. Things are so bad in this system that we get to a point where we can’t take it anymore and we try to come up with an excuse why the rules don’t apply to us, and the rest of the people feel entitled because they truly are used to everything going their way. For example, black people feel entitled because they have been historically downtrodden, white people (especially men) feel entitled because they are used to getting their way, women feel entitled because they have been historically belittled in comparison to men, some old people feel entitled because they are used to people letting them get discounts and otherwise get their way, some old people fee; entitled because they never have anything go their way, children feel entitled because most of them have not had proper childhoods for whatever vile reason, rich people feel entitled because they are used to getting whatever they want on a silver platter, working people feel entitled because they are not able to enjoy the pittance of a check they bring home, poor people feel entitled because they would like to have something go their way for once. All social, religious, racial, national, ethnic, and economic groups have people within them that feel a little more entitled than the rest making them bold enough to cut in line.

If this is a little too complex for you, let’s bring it to the home front and say that the people who feel entitled were not raised right. Even young children can have the makings of being a rude monster in the making. I’ve come across three and four year-olds who will not say hello, goodbye¬† or even thank you. Those are simple things that kids their age can be trained to say. And what do their parents do? Many times they just laugh the awkward situation off and say he must be sleepy or hungry or have to use the bathroom. The truth of the matter is he must be rude. Parents need to nip such things in the bud. It also not very common to hear older kids thanking their parents for their allowance or for a tasty dinner.

All of this information is what I got out of that dummy cutting in front of me in line on Monday. So if you ever find yourself confronted with a line when you are rushing or just hate standing in lines and want to cut, remember this: Everyone else in the line has things that needs to be done, too. Your time is not more important than ours, just as our time is not more important than yours. In a world where people are unfairly treated throughout the country and the world, let’s show a little civility by respecting the line and exercise a little dignity, grace, and respect for others. That is today’s tip from Flo.


Real Phone Etiquette

It’s Wednesday night. After working another grueling hump day, all you want to do is go home, change clothes, sit in your favorite chair, and watch some mind-numbing TV. You’re getting comfortable and finally found something worth watching when the phone’s ringing interrupts your groove. You take a glance at the caller ID to make sure it’s not bill collectors or telemarketers. Then you notice that it’s Sally. You wouldn’t mind talking to Sally if she wasn’t such a motormouth. You know that if you answer the phone she will easily steal two hours from your much needed lounging which makes you angry every time. You decide not to answer the phone so that you can remain calm and peaceful, but the damage is done because you replay in your mind previous times that Sally has ruined your evening.

This scenario happens every single day, but no one is brave enough to call out annoying callers… that is, until today. If you suspect that you may be an annoying caller, please continue reading. This article is especially for you.

When I think of annoying behaviors that get to me on the phone, three behaviors immediately come to mind: The long-winded caller, the eating caller, and the abrupt caller. The worse for me will always be the long-winded caller. People, we live in a world where jobs need to be worked, kids need to be fed, mates need to be consoled, miscellaneous items need to be purchased, food needs to be cooked and eaten, and vehicles need to be driven, so we don’t have time to waste talking to a long-winded caller.

I have one friend who I do not allow to call me on the phone because she is too long-winded. I have had three hour long conversations with her on the phone. You might be thinking, “Well Flo, surely she was confiding in you about some problem that she has. Those conversations can take a long time.” Wrong! She was talking about nothing. Nothing at all! I can’t even remember what she was talking about the last time we spoke. I think at one point she was saying something about a fish tank. Fish tank conversation equals nothing. I do not like sacrificing my evening for fish tank talk. In addition, she repeats herself over and over again. And she didn’t even stop talking long enough for me to say that I needed to go, ignoring that I was only saying , “Uh-huh. Uh-huh.” She literally ran out of words to use and that was how the call ended (and I think my prayers to get me off of the phone helped too).

If you find that you have this problem, instead of annoying the crap out of your friends, just send a text message. For some reason, long-winded people know how to state only the essential facts in a text message. With this friend, she will send me about three texts at a time and then she’s done, and I am very pleased with that.

You’d think that it would be common knowledge not to eat and talk on the phone, but it evidently is not. I have spoken to people on the phone in both a professional and personal capacity, and both kinds of people eat on the phone. You know how everyone hates to hear people smacking? Many folks don’t get that the smacking sound is magnified over the phone as it goes directly into my ear. But wait, it gets worse. While eating, many people then do the inevitable – they belch. That is also magnified into my ear. Friends and family are probably the worse perpetrators because they are too close to us so their inhibitions are down, but it is not okay from them either.

The solution to this problem is simple. If you need to call someone while you are eating, either wait until you are done or stop eating before you call. Then there is no more smacking and no more belching. Likewise, if someone calls while you are eating, either let the phone ring and call them back when you are finished, answer the phone to tell them you are eating and you’ll call them right back when you are finished, or stop eating and then answer the phone.

Abrupt callers are people who want to get in and get out, and they don’t care how they do it. Here is an example:


“Hey, Flo. What is Ginger’s phone number?”

“Sorry, but I don’t have it.”

“OK. Bye.”

It sounds pretty harmless, but the caller could’ve taken time to go through the standard formalities of asking, ‘How are you?’ and thanking me when I said I didn’t ¬†have Ginger’s phone number. Also, these callers don’t wait until you say goodbye back. Once they say their goodbye they feel free to hang up. Sometimes it leaves me feeling like, ‘I’m not a bill collector for goodness’ sakes.’ Believe me, I want to get off of the phone as quickly as the next person, but there is a more proper way to do it (unless you’re speaking to a long-winded caller).

While these are the three main annoying callers, an honorable mention is the greeting one uses when they answer my call. Some say, ‘Yellow.’ Others say, ‘What’s up?’ My home girls say, ‘Hey girl,’ but that one is fine with me. If you are not speaking with a close friend, just say ‘Hello.’ If you want to be extra creative you can even use their name after saying hello so that they know that you know who they are and they don’t waste time announcing themselves. Many of these other greetings, especially ‘Yellow’ are really annoying.

Another honorable mention is carrying on a conversation with me and someone else in the background. My mother is notorious for this, and she knows that she isn’t listening to what I’m saying, especially when my brother is over her house. When she starts talking to someone in the background I just end the call because I know I’ll end up having to repeat everything to her later.

So these are the phone problems facing today’s callers. Have social networking, text messages, IMs, and emails deteriorated the art of phone conversation? I don’t know because the people I am referring to don’t really use any of these things. Nevertheless, if you notice that people are answering the phone less and less when you call, the problem may be you. Please take the above tips to heart. Life is too short to needlessly waste time being frustrated by bad phone manners, and that is today’s tip from Flo.