Waiting in line and keeping your cool
If you want to see someone become a monster, make them wait in line to buy a Hatchimal for their niece. Hey, it’s a just the simple, real fact of life during line season! See, in November, a month that opens with an election and closes with TSA pandemonium and Black Friday, we spend a lot of time queuing up—and also a lot of time getting angry in queue. The intensity only continues in December to increase as many dumbly forgo online shopping for last-minute gifts in favor of perusing at brick-and-mortar stress incubators—I mean malls. And though the seasonal Starbucks cup next to me suggests this season is supposed to be jolly or whatever, customers tend to get, ahem, a tad hostile. But why does waiting in line make us feel so crazy and transform us into the worst versions of ourselves? Well, I could default on “waiting totally sucks,” but TBH, that doesn’t satisfy word count the way I need it to. So, I called on Richard Larson, PhD—the go-to authority on line theory who has ever-so-charmingly garnered the nickname Dr. Queue—to shed some light on why the
grumpiness and lines are like avocado and toast.
First, let’s identify all the people who’ll no-doubt piss you off in line: the cutters, the fighters, and the lecturers. What helps determine each personality type? Dr. Larson says there are multitudes of reasons people decide to make or break the rules of the line. “The responses of someone in line are very culture-dependent, person-specific, and situation-specific,” Dr. Larson says. “Danes and the Brits are usually fine in lines—first-come, first-served—the idea of fairness. Many other nationalities, not so much.” Unfair, unexplained waits—like, say, traffic—are far less palatable than trying to be patient on your way to Splash Mountain. Here in America, our rage widely stems fro