By Jerry Roker
for Bahamas Press
The line was not that long when I joined the queue at a fast food restaurant several evenings ago. There were about four or five people ahead of me and the two immediately in front appeared to be friends and were chatting away. As I always do, I sized them up for that moment, just in case of emergency.
One was dark, a bit on the thick side, and his hair could do with – as they say – a comb running through it. The second man was slim, of dark complexion, and his hair suffered the same complex as his partner.
Both men’s youthfulness was reflected in the way they were dressed. They wore their pants in that irritating style with the waistline falling just below the buttocks, leaving their unmentionables exposed. But that is not to say this style is reserved for the youth. I have seen some desperate older men attempt this fashion faux pas, and failed spectacularly, simply because it screams of a pathetic effort to hold on to youth. Give it up, men who have passed 40.
Out of the blue there appeared another youth with the same manner of rough-dry clothing and low waistline below the buttocks, forcing the wearer to walk in an awkward fashion or tug at the pants every few seconds.
Like the others before him, I gave the newcomer the once-over. His cornrow hairstyle could do with a refreshing. Still, not a problem.
I hadn’t quite made up my mind on what I wanted, so my gaze went back to the menu after I decided that these three were non-threatening. Having made up my mind that on this night I would go with the special, for no particular reason I turned my attention back to the three ahead of me.
I clearly heard the latecomer asking one of the other two to buy him an item and thrust the money towards them, bidding one of them to take it. Neither did. And he repeated the request.
One responded and told him just get in the line in front of him. Of course, that meant he would be ahead of me. Such impudence.
I would have had no problem accommodating that if only they were not so indifferent. From the moment he uttered the invitation for the latecomer to join the line, that young man looked at me as if daring me to object.
I did object, mentally of course.
But the more I thought about it, the more annoyed I became. A simple “excuse me, sir” and I would have relented, but to engage in a stare-down.
I made up my mind that it would not be going down like that. The latecomer moved to the cashier, placed his order and moved to the pick up counter.
When she said “next customer please”, I swifly moved past the two young men just as they were readying to approach her. I reasoned that it would be my turn if they had not “put up” the young man. I reached the counter, placed my order, received my change and then cast a glance backwards. One of the youth was half-smirking. I knew why.
The two looked at each other and approached the cashier. No words were exchanged, but I believe that the message was received.
I have no problem with letting someone in the queue to complete a transaction. However, I get a bit more than peeved when there is a long line, others approach and the customers ahead see no issue with allowing several people to cut in line. My silence and that of those patiently waiting may sometimes be interpreted as approval, but that may not always be the case.
There is an unspoken rule of good public decency that you don’t cut in line on your own or aided and abetted by someone else. If you are going to do that, just be polite and ask a question.
I’m not perfect. I’ve joined the queue improperly before but I didn’t do it with impunity.