Why Does the Other Line Always Move Faster? The Myths and Misery, Secrets and Psychology of Waiting in Line
Few features of American society seem as natural (to us, at least) as our lines, which are so common that they’re easy to think of as a built-in human reflex, like breathing or chewing. Not so, argues longtime line obsessive David Andrews. Line-forming is hardly a universal practice, and many societies use different sorting mechanisms. Even in England, the supposed world capital of line-standing, the queue was a foreign concept as recently as 1837. Surveying academic, literary, and pop culture reflections on the line from throughout history and across the world, Andrews finds in this most banal of practices a lens for one of life’s biggest questions: Who gets what, and in what order? The line awaits its definitive book-length treatment—the research here is presented completely sans footnotes, for one thing—but this is a fine start. Just the thing for making time in line fly by.
Submit your response to this story to email@example.com. If you would like us to consider your letter for publication, please include your name, city, and state. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium.
For more from Pacific Standard, and to support our work, sign up for our free email newsletter and subscribe to our print magazine, where this piece originally appeared. Digital editions are available in the App Store and on Zinio and other platforms.