The holiday season has a way of sucking logic and common sense out of the general public. Humans, who seem to muddle through life the rest of the year reasonably unscathed somehow take a turn, not for the good, sometime around Thanksgiving. Here are a few quick tips and reminders to help us all co-exist this time of year with less stress, frustration and bloodshed.
Stand in line. Sounds simple enough. And I fondly remember a time when people understood the concept. One would assume the actual word, "line" would be a dead giveaway as to where and how you are to stand. After all, we weren't taught in Kindergarten to "get in an unorganized mass" when we headed to lunch or the playground. So I don't really know what has happened in the past few years that has caused lines to be so misunderstood. I think it may be a combination of escalated anxiety, overblown germaphobia, changing social mores, "uptightedness" (it's not a word, YET, but it will be) or just an overall lack of common sense that has caused the simple forming of a line to have gone to hell in a hand basket.
Take a fast food restaurant, for example. These days, people waiting to order mill around in an unorganized fashion, sometimes forming some semblance of a line parallel to the counter rather than perpendicular. They keep a good 10 foot or so "buffer zone" between them and the cashier and go to great lengths to avoid eye contact with others who are also involved in the process. Not only is this just stupid, it also makes it impossible for a newcomer to the scene to ascertain who is waiting to order and who has already ordered and is just waiting for their food.
When a customer does approach the register to order, the person next in line feels the need to stay 3 feet behind them which very much limits how many people can actually get in said line. They act as if the subject matter being discussed by the cashier and customer ordering is top secret, Navy seal type stuff and they don't want to accidentally overhear it. It's McDonald's. It's not an STD clinic and the person in front of you is not getting their test results. They're ordering Mcnuggets. I'm not saying we should stand so close that the person in front of us can feel our breath on the back of their neck. But for Pete's sake, scoot up and make a damn line.
Don't stop when there's no stop sign. The Costco parking lot in December is surely what hell must be like. We all know that. But the ebb and flow of traffic there, and everywhere else on planet earth for that matter, would be so much smoother, soooo much more pleasant, if drivers would simply go when they should be going and stop when they should be stopping. I'm pretty sure I learned stop and go techniques on my pink Barbie motorized car when I was 4. And even began to understand the logic behind choosing which one to use at any given time.
Every time two or three cars "meet" in an intersection, it's not a contest to see who is more polite. First, there are looks of total confusion - as if none of the drivers ever thought this scenario would happen. Then they all simultaneously start waving one hand in the universal "you go first" gesture which results in everyone starting to accelerate, stopping, accelerating again, stopping and eventually going on their way. The more intelligent plan would simply be for those who had a stop sign to stop and those who didn't to just freakin' go. Same kind of thing applies to "yield" and "merge." Look 'em up.
Everyone doesn't have to go everywhere. When I was a kid, it was seldom that I tagged along with my mom to the grocery store or on other errands that were just easier and faster with no kids in tow. There were five of us - I mean how could she possibly choose who should go and who shouldn't. So we all just stayed home. Crazy. Now that I'm a parent, I understand that those little jaunts were actually enjoyable "escapes" for my parents so that they could have some alone time every now and then, even if it was just for a few minutes in the car. Kids above a certain age were fine to stay at home and simply did not need to go everywhere that mom and dad went. The older kids would supervise the younger siblings until the parents arrived back home (often after something they called, "happy hour".) But not anymore.
Every outing, regardless of importance, the weather, the time of day or the destination is now a group adventure with the already too crowded aisles of every store crammed with slow-moving herds of parents, grandparents, teenagers and toddlers along with strollers, motorized hoverounds and an occasional dog. (Don't get me started). And none of them are actually HELPING in the shopping experience or adding value to the outing. They usually spread out across the aisles like they're carrying a banner in a parade which prevents others from getting through. And they typically watch while the "leader", usually a tired mom, heave cases of water into the cart and try to keep smaller kids from fighting without offering any assistance. I'm not saying you should leave your three and five-year-old in a hot car to go in to 7-Eleven for a
6-pack, but limit group outings to vacations, funerals and family reunions.