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Life in the Line Turns Out to be the Experience of a Life-time

     I was in luck. Friday noon at the café and no line. Just a guy and a gal studying the menu and looking in the soup tureens. I was in a big hurry, but before I barged in front of them I asked if they were in line.

     The guy gave me a LOOK. Yes, they were in line. I got behind them and then they went off to check out the pastry case at the other end of the counter. Since there wasn’t anyone at the register to take orders, I waited where I was.

     When the order-taker finally got there, the guy came back – without the gal - to place his order. First he had a few questions.

     “What’s the soup of the day? Are the vegetables fresh? How big is the bowl? Can I see the cup? I’d like some water, too. Yes, bottled. What size are the bottles? Do you have pepperoncinis? No, I don’t want any. I just wondered. My Aunt Edith likes them. What?”

     About this time, the gal reappeared at the other side of the café.

     “Oh yeah, she’s with me. No, not her” - he pointed at me. “Her.” He pointed at her.

     “Her” sauntered over and asked to see the water bottle sizes. Tons of people had come in by now and the line snaked around the café. The lady behind me rolled her eyes. I rolled mine back. She was wearing a red suit. I never argue with a red suit.

     My soup and iced tea were delicious, and I had a nice brisk walk back to the office and missed both of my meetings. Which was good – but I won’t get into that.

     This morning at the grocery store I grabbed a couple of lemons and a pack of pudding and hurried to the checkout stands. Yeah, I know - one of these days I’m gonna stop this always being in a hurry business.

     I surveyed the lines, did a quick calculation, and picked Counter 11. Only three people, with three or four items each, and one old guy paying for his stuff. Had it made.

     Oops. No checker. Where’s the checker? We waited patiently for a minute or two, and then everyone started looking around for the checker.

     Hours later – in “line-wait-time” - she walked over and tucked a lavendar balloon in the old guy’s bag like she’d never been gone, rang it up and soon he was gone.

     The next guy paid for a couple of those sheathed flower bouquets. Quick and easy. And the lady with the toothpaste did okay until she ran her card through the card reader. It didn’t read. She ran it through five times before it took. And then she was off.

     The woman in front of me was next. She’d been complaining steadily about the delays, so I figured she was in a bigger hurry than I was. Wrong.

     The cashier rang up her milk, her magazine, and then her big box of eggbeaters. That did it.

     “Six ninety-nine?!!! The sign said two ninety-nine - who’d pay seven dollars for eggs?! Can you believe it? Seven dollars for eggs!!! I’m not paying. I don’t want them.”

     So of course the checker called someone to go check the price and of course that took fifteen minutes and of course the lady kept apologizing to me for the delay and of course I smiled at her and said that’s okay and of course I didn’t mean it and finally the worker came back with a small box of egg-beaters so it only cost three dollars – not seven - so the lady bought it, but then the worker had to go back and get the original big box of egg-beaters because the checker couldn’t credit the big box without the big box being there to be scanned and the woman went off with her little egg-beaters...

     I’ve come to the conclusion that life in the line is the experience of a life-time. Literally.

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