Hurry up and wait.
I know you’ve met them. The friend or colleague who moans that she hasn’t quite finished wrapping the last of her Christmas gifts and here it is practically the middle of October. Or the one who explains how she bought everyone on her list the perfect gift by ordering months in advance from carefully curated online sources. I, on the other hand, come from a long line of people who eagerly peruse helpful tips about creative gifts you can get from gas station stores after midnight on Christmas Eve. (Who wouldn’t want a tastefully matched set of car air fresheners and a triple pack of Twizzlers?) Since I wait until the last possible moment to do my holiday shopping, I’m inevitably trapped waiting in long lines to buy picked-over desperation gifts.
And… I’ve even been known to partake of that most American of traditions, the Black Friday death run. Well not lately, of course, because for the past decade or so I’ve lived in the UK. Their reluctance to celebrate Thanksgiving—the holiday commemorating the Pilgrims’ fleeing England in search of religious freedom and right-turn-on-red—makes it difficult to schedule Black Friday for the following day.
My lack of gift-planning skills means I’m sentenced to life hours I’ll never get back whilst (you get to say whilst here in the UK) waiting in lines. As a public service, I offer you the following tips to while away your in-line time. You’re welcome.**
**[NOTE: please consider your location before trying any of the following suggestions.
- If you’re in the UK, where queuing skills are taught in the mother’s womb, any deviation will result in severe throat clearing and coughs. Severe.
- If you’re in the US, your fellow line-waiters might be armed with semiautomatic weapons.
- If you’re in Italy, sweet old ladies dressed in black might hide your body and you’ll never be heard from again.]
- Keep the people behind you on their toes by allowing random gaps to develop between you and the person in front of you. (Bonus activity: if you’re in the UK, step slightly to one side or another of the queue so that it’s not immediately obvious whether you’re actually in line. People behind you will break into a cold sweat at the spectre of being labeled a queue jumper. Rather than speak to you directly, they will most likely leave the line entirely, and possibly the city.)
- Ask the person behind you to hold your place while you go to the bathroom. Stay right where you are, but in about ten minutes turn around and thank them.
- Answer your phone in a loud voice, “No, you’re the one who refuses to commit. I put my whole self in. I take my whole self out. I put my whole self in and I shake it all about. I do the hokey pokey. I turn myself around. But… is that really what it’s all about?”
- Hold your finger until it’s almost touching the person in front of you. When they turn around, whip around and stare at the person behind you.
- Have the person with you grab at their heart, gasp, and fall down. Loudly ask the people around you to please pay no attention as it was the dear boy’s last wish not to be caught dead shopping here.
- Open your ereader or even better, an audio book. (I recommend Miss Subways by David Duchovny—a hilariously deadpan story of love and
second, third, fourth chances that’s kind of like Good Omens meets The Good Place, only set in New York.) It might not make the line move faster, but it puts the person at the front of the line (who has apparently never purchased anything in their life and thus must be guided through every step including the shocking revelation that they actually must provide some form of working payment in order to conclude said transaction) into perspective.
- Another form of short holiday story (although, sadly, one that rarely goes this well) is the commercial. Sometimes. Okay, probably only here:
What was your worst experience waiting in lines (or on hold, or waiting in airports, or…)?