Saturday, March 28, 2009

Enough with civility: confronting line cutters and queue jumpers

Last Saturday, Sophia and I went to Disneyland to celebrate my birthday and to spend some time together, since our work schedules haven't really overlapped favorably in recent weeks.

We were in line for the Matterhorn, and as decent, upstanding Disneyland patrons, we took our places at the back of the snaking line.

It was a long line, but it was what one would expect for a Saturday at Disneyland. It was moving at a good clip — faster than the 405 near Santa Monica during rush hour, anyway.

About halfway through, a suspicious looking Asian guy wearing sunglasses sidled up next to me from out of nowhere. For a good three seconds, he stood there without saying a word. I thought that he was expecting to be recognized, but upon closer inspection I could recall no previous association with him.

When he finally said something, he said, "Hey man, you mind if I get behind you? The line is really long and I don't want to wait in the back."

Flabbergasted at the audacity of the request, my verbal faculties sputtered, and the first thing to come up was, "No."

As I realized that I had actually issued an unintentionally affirmative and welcoming response, I stepped in to clarify. "I mean, yes, I do mind. And I mean that no, it is not fine with me if you get behind me."

He responded, "Oh, come on. Why not?"

"Because we began at the back of the line, like everyone else, and so should you," I said with an annoyed and furrowed brow. (At this point, it was only one brow. That's how annoyed I was: unibrow annoyed.) I gestured to the very back of the line. "You should start heading over there. You shouldn't be here."

He kept a straight face. "Oh, alright." And that was that.

Or so I thought. I turned around five minutes later, and he was just standing there — right behind me!

I looked at the people right behind him to see if they were upset in any way. It was a wholesome-looking white American family, and they didn't seem bothered by anything at all. It looked like they were having a good time.

I am certain that the scumbag probably chose to ask me because white people would be more likely to think we were together since we were Asian — which is a reasonable assumption to make. But the guy was alone, and I felt a little sorry for him; maybe someone close to him died. You never know what the story is with people, I figured, so I decided to forget about it.

But five minutes later, the scumbag's wench joined him. At this point, I was fuming, and was very close to causing a scene. Sophia told me to just forget about it since we were there to have a good time, and I knew that anger tends to make me act irrationally, so I just fumed for a while and hoped it would pass.

It has been a week, and it has not passed.

While writing this up, I found out that queue jumpers get away with it most of the time. In the future, please do everyone a favor and cause a scene, and I will do the same.

Now, I understand that it may be difficult to think quickly of what to do. If you need some ideas, here are a few things you can do to people who cut in line.

Wait until you get to the front of the line and then tell the people in charge. Make the cutters return to the back of the line all over again.

Loudly and clearly proclaim to everyone behind the cutters of what they have done. Populist outrage is a powerful force, and public humiliation is a long neglected tool. Put them together and you've got a great combination.

Take a picture of the cutters. If they cut in pretending to know you, why not play along? Say loudly, "Oh, hey, what does your new driver's license picture look like?" Remember their names, and then post their names, their pictures, and what they did, so that employers can find them when they perform background checks. (Make the page SEO friendly so these dirtbags are easier to find.)

Get physical. The line cutters don't belong there, so you're just righting a wrong and putting things back as they should be. A simple shove should do the trick, but be prepared for some pugilism should you go this route. This is particularly well-suited for those of you who don't resort to violence — because it's your first choice, not a last resort.

It's about time these scoundrels get what they deserve. If it helps, just bottle up whatever road rage you have, and instead dish it out to someone who actually deserves it. Disneyland may be the happiest place on earth, but happiness will remain incomplete as long as we remain complacent about people who blithely dismiss the ideals of justice and fairness.

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