Pet peeve of the day: Californians don’t know how to form a line


In New York, we have always said the phrase “wait on line” which annoyed my visiting mid-westerner friends and the like.  I didn’t get the problem with waiting on line. This was before being online was all the rage .  However, as the New York times noted as recently as last year, “Let other people wait ‘in line.’ New Yorkers call it waiting on line.

New Yorkers get frustrated at lines but we do them. We do so for the latest cupcake place, the hottest brunch baked bread, and the best basil lime daiquiri anywhere.  We do them more or less in an orderly fashion. I believe that is why we use the phrase wait on line. There were probably lines, at one point in time, where people waited to get into to wherever they were trying to enter.  It makes complete sense to wait on the line by the velvet rope.

The first time I had problems with lines, was in Vienna. Everywhere we went in Vienna there were no set lines. I didn’t quiet understand that considering how rigid they were about everything else. I mean, as we were protesting down the streets, the bicyclists kept tapping us on the shoulder to remind us to protest on the side designating for walking as opposed to biking.  Tell  me that isn’t strange. But I digress. Although, I remember the sense of horror I felt at the zoo is Vienna as no one bothered to cue up and it took us quite a while to figure that out as we politely waited.

Now, here in Los Angeles, my new hometown, I am coming to learn Californians do not know how to form a line. Every morning I go down to Coffee Bean to get my triple shot latte. Yes, I have become hooked to that extra shot. I know it must not be good for me, but it sure gives me that extra pep to my step and extra alertness to handle the 20 minutes a day I have to sit through.  I go down to the coffee shop a bit sleepy, as at that point, I generally have had only two cups of coffee. I get in, look around and try to figure out what is going on. See, the thing is, there are like 6 other people in the waiting area and I can never figure out who is waiting to order. They stand far away from the counter even when they are about to order. They are spaced out looking elsewhere, often at their cell phones or puppies. Or they are high.  The end result being they are just standing around in no set queue.

The other day, I asked the gentleman before me (or so I believed he was) whether he was on line. He looked  at me and said “all I want is iced coffee my order is so simple.”  I took a deep and said “hmm. ok. sorry to hear that I think. But are you on line?”  He never answered. I went ahead and ordered as any sensible New Yorker would do.  I turned and looked back and there he was in the same spot. That is no way to live in a city. Does the sun stop them from forming lines?  Either way, I am going to move ahead if no one else does.




4 replies »

  1. Fast forward to Covid times: I think Californians are getting better. We queue up on the little squares or circles placed 6′ apart ( most of us anyway!).
    But I could relate to your experience in Vienna. While in Germany some years ago we were waiting for a bus with a bunch of seniors – some with canes – and a group of young people showed up and pushed of front of them. Needless to say no one offered seats to their elderly citizens either. I was shocked (esp. in a country known to follow the rules).


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