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There Is Actually a Universal Law for This...


It never fails that I will get in the wrong line at the store. I could pace up and down for five minutes measuring the lineups, analyzing the situation – that woman is clutching coupons, don’t go there - that old guy is definitely a coin counter, nope - that cashier is always slow, avoid, avoid.


Inevitably, after all that, I get behind the one person that has chosen the one thing in the store without a tag. By this time my unsuspecting self has already unloaded a full cart onto the conveyor belt. Price check! So, I stand there while the announcement is made. We wait for the clerk from that department to show up. They take the item with them to find its match. We wait. It’s a big store. The clerk comes back. It’s the last one. There is no price.


In the meantime, the person directly behind me has unloaded their stuff and I have put down the divider stick thingy to separate our purchases. They must be bad at gauging lineups as well. And we stand there, exchanging small, polite smiles. In the meantime, the person at the cash has decided they really need that last item so please call the manager.


Now, I could just put everything back in my cart and back my way out but I’m one of those people that doesn’t know when to quit. There is always that little, nagging hope that somehow, everything will be resolved quickly so, ever the optimist, I wait. I watch as the people behind the person behind me realize they have chosen a bad line. They leave. Other potential liner-uppers see what’s going on and take off faster than green grass through a goose. People that came into the store after me have paid and are on their way out. They are glancing at me with pity and what I’m sure is smugness because they chose the good line.


I chat with whomever is behind me and smile sweetly at their child who is getting very bored and starting to make a loud noise. This serves as a warning to others to stay away.


Eventually, the manager shows up and a resolution is at hand. By that time, I’m so hot I’ve removed any excess clothing I can. My bangs are sticking to my forehead and I’ve forgotten I’m wearing mascara and rubbed my eyes. I look like a half-naked raccoon. The kid behind me is out of their cart and pushing it into my back.


Finally, it’s my turn. The cashier rings my purchases through, apologizing for the wait. I tell him/her it’s okay, I’m not in a hurry anyway. I have just told my second lie of the day, the first one being to the Mom of the kid behind me that it didn’t bother me when little Jasper tried to mow me down.


The groceries are loaded, my bank account is a lot lighter and as I pass the McDonald’s I reward myself with an iced coffee and head out to my next destination. It will have lines to choose from as well. Hopefully, the coffee will keep me awake.


What’s the law? It’s called Etorre’s Observation. “The other line always moves faster.” Yes, indeed it does.




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