Last weekend I went to our local game shop to check out their rummage sale. It was a little too chaotic for me, but we did get a few fun games and Dave was happy about that. The worst part was the way the crowds had to move through the store: unstructured lines—the worst of any human organizational system.
I’m not great with lines, but if there’s a specific purpose, I’m of the opinion that we all should respect the order. A few of these zealous game-hunters did not feel the same way. They were worried their place in line was going to keep them from getting what they wanted. Maybe that’s true. Maybe they should have gotten there earlier. You know, that’s how lines work. The woman in front of me frantically pressed every worker that passed about her status and her desire to cut ahead. She was angry that she might miss something. She didn’t want what was just ahead of her. Blah blah blah. Eventually these workers gave in because who wants to argue with some crazy cat lady. Once that happened, a few more people cut to grab things ahead of others. And I had a minor emotional breakdown. Because what is the point of instilling a line system if you are going to allow people to disregard it! Honestly. Have you no sense of order?
Now, in an arbitrary line situation, where it’s created just to please a power hungry leader, or in a unnecessary line situation, where ignoring it won’t really harm anyone else, I’m all for thwarting the regimen. There’s nothing I hate more than an irrational rule. I skip ahead in buffet lines, I make my friends save my place at the movies, and I ask strangers to hold my spot while I go take a break—all valid coping mechanisms for my line-related anxiety (I think) and each one harmless to my fellow patrons. But I’m not going to step in front of someone to get the last slice of pizza. I’m from the Midwest. We just don’t do that.
These people weren’t trying to deal with the chaos of the situation, they were just being greedy, which is pretty sad. It was a tiny community of game-loving geeks at the store. We’ve got enough trouble outside the walls of a place dedicated to nerds, so we should really be sticking together. We’re stronger that way. Mostly because we all spend a lot of time inside, so it takes more of us to lift things.
We did come together at one point when a girl yelled, “Squirtle!” in the middle of the sale. Other people responded by shouting it up the line until the notice reached the whole group. A good 83% of us pulled out our phones because, you know, priorities. I don’t know if the line-cutters also tried to catch the virtual turtle or if they took the opportunity to swipe more unearned loot, but most of us were pretty pleased—both with our new Poke-friend and with our solid team effort. Nerds, unite.