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Front Page » September 25, 2012 » Opinion » Standing in line is the American way
Published 761 days ago

Standing in line is the American way


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

The other morning I was driving down Carbonville Road on my way to work when I spied something unusual.

A long line of people standing in front of the doors at the Division of Natural Resources. Usually that time of the morning there are only a few cars in the parking lot and no real activity there.

I drove by and then the reporter's curiosity in me got the best of me and I turned around. I pulled up along side the line and asked someone why all those people were there. Turned out they were all waiting for a chance at elk hunting tags that were being issued on two extra units for this season. All together there would be 175 new tags.

It made me wonder about lines and the kinds of things we will all stand in line for.

One of the things I like about Carbon County is that usually there are few lines for anything and when there are they are generally short. Having lived 2/3 of my life in metropolitan areas I was used to lines. Lines at restaurants, at movie houses, for bathrooms, at the DMV, etc.

So when I moved here 22 years ago, I was surprised. The first time I went in to license a vehicle there was an actual person free to help me as soon as I walked in the door. When I went to renew my driver's license there was one person in front of me. Unless there is something special going on, you seldom have to wait in line to get a seat in any restaurant in town, and if you do it is a very short line.

But this thing of standing in line for what you want (not what you need) is so American. In foreign countries you see lines on television of people waiting for clean water, food, medical help, etc. These are not happy people because they are after things that sustain life. They are not going to a concert, a first release movie, a football game or even like the other morning, a hunting tag.

Even on a Saturday at the grocery store, where the lines are longer than usual, the wait is not too bad. Okay, there are times it seems worse than others, but I think that is because we have become conditioned to our usual environment. Just think how you feel about traffic. It often seems trying to get across Main Street in a vehicle at about 5 p.m. on a weekday near my office is a challenge. Traffic seems to be coming on from all directions constantly. When I start to grumble I try to remember what is like when I go to Orem and try to get across State Street or something like trying to cross 700 East in Salt Lake at rush hour. Do that for a while and Main Street in Price at 5 p.m. seems pretty tame.

But back to lines. Over the years of living in Carbon County I have not only developed an aversion to standing in lines, but also to large crowds. Now we can find some pretty big crowds for our area at Desert Thunder, a concert in the BDAC or at the Events Center or a football game. But they are nothing like the crush of Energy Solutions Arena or Rice Eccles Stadium. So I make some real decisions about going to events based not on the event, but on the lines I have to face.

A few years ago I was in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving because my grandson was playing in the Pigskin Bowl and we went to the Rio to have Thanksgiving dinner at their buffet. It not only wiped my wallet out (buffets in Vegas are not cheap like they used to be) it wiped us out. We had to stand in line for four hours. I ever do that again it will be a Swanson Turkey TV dinner in the microwave in the hotel room.

Each of us has things that are important to us. Other than if someone were going give me something fairly valuable if I stood in line all night or for 24 hours, I would not do it. I think of the people who camp out for the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake each year. For them it is worth it; for me not so much. There was a time when I was young that I would stand through three movie cycles to see a hit movie that was being shown in a theater in Salt Lake. At that time often a movie would be released to only one theater in an area. Now when I see a line to get in a theater I say to myself, "I'll just wait for the video." I never have been one to worry about bragging rights that I was the "first" to see a movie or anything similar to it.

I know some people find the waiting is more fun than the event. They have parties on the sidewalk, get to know other people, play games, etc. Not my cup of tea.

The only time I really wait in line now is if it is something the grand kids want to do. Then it is a joy because I am with them. That's the entertainment I like while waiting.

Yes lines seem to be the American way, an American phenomenon, an American event. But for me I only join them when it is absolutely necessary.

I guess I am just unpatriotic.

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September 25, 2012
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