© 2016 Valerie L. Cason

  • Valerie L. Cason

Front of the Line


My morning began in one of those ways we all dread. I had to drive across town to the one lab that served my particular insurance. You know the drill, the fasting testing for the yearly numbers for our primary physician. As per usual I end up waking up hungry and it more than likely has less to do with hunger and more to do with the fact that it is not permitted. To eat means the inevitable just has to be pushed off to another morning, and as is always the case I am running out of days on the calendar to my appointment day.

I headed out into the windy cold darkness to the lab hoping to be the first in line and get it over with and still make it to work on time. As I round the parking lot of a deserted medical complex and angle for the lab location in the back I see that I am indeed first and proceed to grab the imaginary numbered parking slot number one. My 6:20 arrival has me in the front of the line for the 6:30 opening, but there is a problem. The hours are now 7–3.

As it is cold outside and the parking lot is somewhat isolated I remained in the car awaiting others. At 6:30 another car arrived and parked in slot number two. Seeing the sign they glanced at me and shrugged. So we both sat in our cars with the heat on, neither one of us wishing to stand outside in the cold. She knew I was first and I knew she was second and we had it under control. At 6:40 another driver arrived but further down the parking lot in about slot seven. This would be the beginning of my miniature social study.

The driver in the 6:40 arrival car quickly got out of his car and headed for the front door of the locked and dark lab. He peeked through the windows and I began to think that perhaps he was there for some other reason not related to blood work, and looked as though he was looking for someone in particular inside. After a couple of minutes of fiddling around with a small case he was carrying he pulled out his license and paperwork. It was then I realized I had better take my place in line. The front of the line is where I should be.

Now I was raised with manners, consideration, and good sense so what happens over the next 15 minutes was a true test of that upbringing. It should also be noted that I am sans coffee. With my paperwork in hand I exited my vehicle to stand with him in the cold, while hoping what was about to occur would not. It did. The second person to arrive followed me out as another car was arriving. The woman in car slot two stood with me as we all exchanged good morning pleasantries but beyond that nothing was said. It’s early, cold, and if I had to guess the wheels were turning in the minds of at least two of us.

As the lab technician unlocked the door my day took that turn I feared that it would. The man who had arrived after two of us that were already there did not hold the door for us and have us take our rightful place at the sign in tablet, he instead bolted in the door and placed his name on the list and was immediately called in. As this played out I rolled my eyes, and felt the eyes of the second arrival do the same, yet we let it go. Both of us simply signed in and had a seat. Incidentally, the fourth and fifth person to arrive did not see this play out, but he who ran through the door to be first certainly saw everyone.

Now the demographic of the people in this morning’s story should not matter, but I cannot help but wonder if it should. Each of us has a perspective in this story to be sure. The actions each of us took or chose not to take really played through my mind and if I were a betting person there is a social dynamic study there. I will save those statistics for last because they may or may not sway your opinion of the entire situation. In some ways it is even difficult for me to set all of those things aside, but be that as it may, in some small way I believe this is where our upbringing and experiences shape our reactions in these types of scenarios. Does it matter? I am not qualified to say.

Why this upset me on the surface seems petty and trivial in a world that is in great conflict, but it is what it reveals as a bigger picture that it continued to press me to write this piece. The petty and trivial aspect is partially why I simply let it go. Conflict in those situations is truly not worth it, but is this why we reach this point with behavior? I honestly do not know. The other reason I let it go was my upbringing. I sized up the players, the situation, and just decided based on the visible facts before me that I would not make a scene and hope that human decency would prevail. I expected it out of the man clinging to the door handle even before it was unlocked. My subservience and expectations would cost me my place at the front of the line. The fact is also that he did have his boots on the ground first despite the actual arrival time, but I digress. I do not know why the person that should be second in line said nothing, but I can guess.

The sociological aspect of this entire situation if it were to be observed with eyes behind glass would certainly present a more interesting story. As I write this, so many perspectives and thoughts as to why people behave in the way they do are running through my head. No matter how I look at it I keep coming back to one thing…decency. No I did not technically put myself physically at the door until someone else did, nor did the lady behind me, but even car to car we just knew our spot in line was one and two and that we simply wanted to keep warm.

My real issue with this entire thing has nothing to do with me getting up super early so that I could get this done and still make it to work on time, because the reality is that I still made with plenty of time to spare. I even had time to write this piece, albeit quickly so forgive the errors as I did not have time to proof. My issue is what I see is a bigger problem with us as humans. We have become so incredibly self-centered and rude. I tried to make no assumptions about anyone and their particular situation because you never know what is going on with anyone at any time so it is best to just roll with it. I chose no conflict because in the grand scheme of things it simply did not matter…writing about it would be enough for me on this one.

Now the opinions on this entire situation will run the gamut as perspectives can be everything, as is true in the big picture. I always and will continue to question myself and my own behaviors as long as I live because I believe that is what helps me learn and keeps me true to what lies at my core as a person. So I would encourage everyone to take a moment and do the same and use it to learn and grow to become better than you where yesterday.

The demographics that I spoke of I will now detail. I would be curious to know just how many ways you now see this situation given this information. Should it matter? Does it matter and why? Would it change anything for you?

Parking slot number one arriving at 6:20: 52 year old white female

Parking slot number two arriving at 6:30: Estimated age of 70, black female

Third to arrive at 6:40: Estimated age of 65, white male

Fourth to arrive: Estimated age of 50, white female

Fifth to arrive: Estimated age of 35, Hispanic male

Sometimes I think too much.

#SHORTSTORY #MANNERS #BEHAVIOR

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