The Lineup

What is it about standing in line that is so insurmountably difficult? For Kindergartners, it is next to impossible. Stand still. Hands down. No talking. Now walk. Straight. Facing forward. Quiet. Look ahead. Stop running. Okay, we are almost there. Now, Stop. Still no talking. Please? Turn around. Hands off. Please stop swinging your lunchbox. Watch out for that cart with the overhead projector (who’s using that?). Okay. I’m completely exhausted and we’ve covered about 40 yards of hallway. OMG. This is one of the worst parts of the job.

Perhaps they resist so vigorously because they have the foresight to see a different kind of lineup in their future. Downtown at headquarters, behind a one-way mirrored window. With a giant ruler painted on the wall behind them. Is it the moving from place to place in an orderly fashion that is challenging? Is it waiting one’s turn? Let’s discuss.  Waiting one’s turn… Not an innate talent of the typical American six year old. These are the most attention-seeking creatures in the entire Animal Kingdom. Even more attention seeking than that crazy looking monkey at the zoo with the red butt who is throwing poo and looking for a mate. Me first. My turn. I want that. You took it from me. Look at me. Now.

Do they realize they have simply joined a bleating chorus of several other red-butted monkeys clamoring for your attention simultaneously? Nope. Amazingly, this “I am a singularly important individual who must express my every thought and desire as it spontaneously occurs” phenomenon is not limited to young children. This need to speak and be heard on demand is a pervasive phenomenon among adults in my (admittedly limited) social world, as well. Visiting our temple, listening our rockstar Rabbi, speak with encouragement, soul, humor, insight, and relevance, the chatter around us continues. It’s the adults chattering. The kids are all in the lobby, sprinting in circles because they haven’t been told by their parents not to train for the 440 indoors. During any given community event, the parents continue their chatter. While a Rabbi speaks before them! While students deliver speeches about family folklore and ancestry! While fellow parents attempt to explain service projects that can benefit people other than themselves! What is wrong with these people? Where is that monkey with the poo? Throw it. Over there. At that lady on her cell phone.

Subjugating one’s primal need to be first may not come naturally to the general population. This is why grown people take your place in line at the deli counter, when you were clearly there before them. Is it worth it? Really? So you can have your half pound of honey roasted turkey before I get mine? Waiting in line will never be easy. But it should be. I was here first. You were second. Please wait behind me until I am finished. Thank you.

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