Wheaton’s Law, revisited. For the children.

I was standing in line last night—with something like the entire population of Greater Cincinnati—in a room lacking air conditioning, while waiting to do the initial check-in for Mini-Me’s summer activity.  I’m still not entirely certain why the checking-in process was scheduled for a week before the actual activity began, but that’s a discussion for another time.  The point is, even with the odds stacked so highly against me on a weeknight, my mood remained light even as beads of sweat started rolling down my forehead.

Again, did I mention: Eleventy hojillion people, no air condition?

For once, though, I’d managed to arrive on time for the check-in.  Actually, we were a tad early (gasp).  So of the great mass of people waiting for their turn to hand over paperwork, I was near the front.  Like, one of the 10 people closest to the check-in table.

Huzzah, right?

You can see how that might have a positively reinforcing effect on a situation that otherwise had the potential for me to end up storming about the room like an irate Tasmanian devil, screaming obscenities and attempting to bludgeon people with a rolled-up set of release forms.

But no, I was keeping my cool.  I was Mr. Freeze, Frosty the Snowman, and, um, that, uh, popsicle guy?

He is too real.  Whatever.  Shut up.

Anyway, the point is that I was not freaking out.

Until she arrived.

Mere moments before the signing-in began in earnest, a woman in an unfortunate pink shirt—the exact hue of Pepto Bismol, to be specific—idled through the doors.  And although a line of people stretched behind me, beyond the county line and across two states, Mrs. Pink smiled gaily at a woman five spots ahead of me in line and began to chit-chat.

Ok, fine, I thought.  No biggie.  They’ll have a brief conversation and then Priscilla Pepto will Go. To. The. End. Of. The. Line.  You know, we were there for the children, after all.  Aren’t adults supposed to set an example and stuff?  Line Jumping is not a sport and all that.

The chatting continued, though, for minutes before tapering off, as conversations are wont to.  Instead of moving toward her rightful spot at the end of the line, (now near Pheonix, AZ), Pink continued to stand beside her friend, silent.

That’s went it hit me with the force of a 100 punds of stinky, moldering, limburger cheese: she intended to keep that wholly pilfered spot in line.

My brain, being the type of brain that concocts things out of whole cloth, then immediately generated this transcript of their recently finished discussion:

Lady in Line: Oh, HAI, Mrs. Newcomer! I love that shade of pink on you! You look like a 1980’s carpet-covered bathroom!

Mrs. Bismol: Howdy, Mrs. Lineholder.  Glad I found you here so I can very rudely cut in front of all these millions of sweaty fools!

Lady in Line: Pish, posh! It was nothing.  I’m just glad I could be here early so you could saunter in whenever you damned well pleased.  And yes, by all means, you should stand here with me.  Never mind the mass of people behind me that arrived before you!

Mrs. Bismol: Goodness, I know. *looks at me* Like that poor sap with those kids hanging on him.  I’m so thankful I can go before him.  I’m sure his children will enjoy the extra time waiting in the heat.

Both: *birdlike, chittering laughter*

At this point, I was irritated, but managed to contain my growing rage.  Because, really, at least I wasn’t in Nome, Alaska, where the line ended.  I was right near the top.  And  yes, Mrs. Pink had been terribly rude and line-jumped right in front of me, but hey, this is adulthood, right, not the elementary school line for mystery meatballs? It’s not like I haven’t taken the occasional advantage in Life every now and again.  Anyway, how much longer could she possible make my wait?

Besides, maybe her octogenarian mother-in-law was waiting in the car or something, so she had to be fast.  I could be a good person, right?  Give someone the benefit of the doubt?

But then she reached The Sign-In Table, and I learned that if any octogenarian relation was waiting in the car, they might want to go ahead and hit that med-alert bracelet.  Because Mrs. Pepto was in no hurry whatsoever.

For reference, when I finally reached The Table, it took me approximately 12.7 seconds to deliver my paperwork, verify my son’s name, and move on towards Table B.  In contrast, Mrs. Pink stood there, discussing…something…about check-in for an equivalent period of time as the entire Mesozoic era. 

Dinosaurs evolved and became extinct while I waited in the sweltering line.

And then, what seemed like years later, after she moved on, when we at last proceeded to Table B, guess who was again just in front of me, monopolizing the time of both the check-in volunteers on hand?

Why, hello, Mrs. Pink!

See, she’d apparently decided to check-in the entire population of children attending said summer activity from whatever locale she represented.  And given the number of shirts and hats she was collecting, I’d have to guess that location is somewhere with a pretty high population density, like, Beijing, China or New York City.

Oh, and although each original registration form for said activity (submitted weeks ago) included a choice of shirt and hat size, which the volunteers had record of, Mrs. Pink ultimately decided that the more prudent course of action would be to question Each. And. Every. Shirt. And. Hat. Individually.

Meanwhile, as she considered how much a medium shirt would shrink, I struggled to suppress my ever growing impatient rage.  And succeeded.  Somehow.

Mostly, I suspect it was because I try very hard to avoid becoming a blubbering fury beast in front of my children.

Nobel Peace Prize, people, Nobel Peace Prize.  That’s all I’m saying.

Eventually, blessedly, Table B Volunteer 2 left Volunteer 1 to deal with Mrs. Time Vampire and proceeded to help the rest of us sweating mongrels.  My children and I collected our goods and bolted for freedom.

For all I know, Mrs. Pink is still there debating large versus extra large.

The point of all this is not only to suggest, that well, wasn’t that fun? 

Although, admittedly,I do like complaining.

No, the point here is to use this as a teachable moment, an opportunity to review Wheaton’s Law.  Everyone know’s Wheaton’s Law, right?  Okay, then,  altogether now:  Don’t be a dick.

For the record: cutting several hundred people in a huge line and then taking however long you see fit to conclude your business?  Dick move, lady.  Seriously.

Perhaps a little consideration for the rest of us, every now and then?

Maybe see what you can do about that next time, eh?  That’d be great.

The rest of us would greatly appreciate it.


One thought on “Wheaton’s Law, revisited. For the children.

  1. This has now become one of my favorite posts of yours and gave me probably the greatest laugh I’ve had in the past few weeks..which has been a rarity in form.

    I remember witnessing this same line-jumping situation when I was a kid and attending some sort of sign-up with my siblings and mother. I can also clearly remember how embarrassed/proud I was when my mom loudly pronounced to some lady (who was probably pepto-bismoI lady’s relative), “excuse me, but what makes you so great that you can waltz right in here late, blubber your mouth with someone, and then think you can stay in the front of the line?” At that instant I covered my face with my hands in what seemed like embarrassment, but I was really just trying to cover my laughter.

    good times.


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