Standing In Line

Why do people wait in line?

Waiting for cheesecake

A favorite family story recalls seeing a large crowd of people, standing around or sitting on benches and planters in the heart of Waikiki one sun-filled day. We walked over to see what was going on — they were waiting for a table at the Cheesecake Factory, and the wait was two hours!

Why, in heaven’s name, would you spend two hours in Hawai’i waiting in line for food? Why, especially, would visitors wait for food they could get when the snow was on the ground back home in Michigan or Oregon or New Jersey?

Waiting for popcorn

Last Christmas, I saw a long line of people snaking through the busy shopping mall, dutifully waiting … for popcorn! No, the line wasn’t moving, at least not quickly. Were these shoppers just looking for an excuse to stand still for 20 or 30 minutes? Or was the popcorn (seriously, popcorn) worth the wait.

Waiting for hamburger

This morning, the business channel on TV talked about a new hamburger store that is challenging the entrenched giants. This store took off world wide when people were standing in long lines waiting … for a hamburger! Other people saw the long line as evidence that the line was worth the wait, so they joined the line.

And, of course, the iPhone waiting lines are legend.

No doubt, some in the line truly value the cheesecake, the popcorn, the hamburger or the phone that awaits them and rewards their patience. But, I’m willing to wager that a substantial part of that line is in line because there’s a line.

People are funny that way.


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