Published January 15, 2023

Those Dreaded Lines 

Written by
Kim Fundingsland
| The Dakotan

A Slice of Life 

After decades of trying, I have never gotten it right. Not a single time. Not once that I can remember. 

Lines. That’s right – lines. The kind that never move the way you had hoped they would. I know I am not alone here. I think. 

I’m writing about those many choices a person makes each day, week, month about which line to get in at the grocery store, retailer, gas pump -- anywhere there is a line for that matter. I always cleverly assess which line will move the fastest and, once satisfied with my calculation, I fall into line with unfailing confidence that I’ve chosen the procession that will move along much more swiftly than the other poor folks standing in their line, perhaps decomposing, while I will soon be going cheerfully about my day. 

It never happens that way. Never. I’m always the one watching a different line progress the way it should. How is this possible with uncanny regularity year after year? 

When it comes to drive-thru banking, I inevitably pull my vehicle into the line with somebody in front of me applying for a small business loan. 

At the grocery store, like I’m sure many others do, I always check to see how many items are in the carts backed up at the various checkout lines. My thinking is the fewer the number of groceries in the cart, the faster the line will move. I go well beyond that though. 

Knowing that I am horribly impatient while waiting in any line, I make an assessment of each cashier too, choosing one that seems well seasoned and eager to set a new standard for swiftness. You can relate, right? Please agree. 

Usually, as my smiling face attests, all goes well until…..well, it doesn’t. I should know better. It happens every time. Always. Without fail. 

Sometimes it is the dreaded item without a bar code to scan, or a customer going through pockets or purse to locate a debit card, or realizing they forgot to get the one item they came to the store for.  

I’m horrible. I know, but there I am – trapped. I can’t go forward, and I’ve got people in line behind me. On the exterior I nod my head in understanding. Really though, I’m worried about spontaneous combustion. Despite the billion or so times I’ve done it, I’m just not wired for standing in lines that never seem to move. A hopeless feeling sets in, as if my life isn’t my own anymore.  

I’ve even had dreams about this personal dilemma. Sound asleep, there I am, a younger man who has blistered a ball into the gap in right-center field. It has triple written all over it. I make a perfect turn at first base, fly around second with nary a thought of slowing down, and set my sights on third base where I know I’ll slide in safely to the cheers of many. 

Yee-gads! Not so! There’s a line of players waiting at third base! I awake suddenly in a cold sweat. Terrifying. Horror movie-type stuff. 

The line starts over there. Get in line. Wait your turn. We’ll call your number. Price check. The blinking light comes on above the till. All this crawls inside me somewhere and churns around viciously. Somehow, I summon the courage to cope with line after line after delay. It’s not easy. 

Then there’s those dreaded phone calls. You know the ones -- “Your call is important to us. Please hold until you die.” 

Maybe I can find a support group to help me with some of this, but I’m guessing the line is long and slow moving there too. 

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