Robert Fulghumís book, All I Really
Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, talks of the many rules that are
fundamental to a working society. One of the most important and
difficult-to-understand rules is the need to wait in line.
The concept of the line must have been
one of Godís greatest creations. How could society exist without the
ability to recognize the need for lines? Kindergarten children rapidly
learn that there is a line to get on and off the bus, to go to lunch and
to the restroom. When visiting an elementary school youíll see kids
lined up everywhere and, in many instances, they are even holding hands to
ensure their proper place.
Lines drive me crazy. Iím a type-A personality
and just standing there doing nothing works on my psychť. Waiting in line
seems such a waste of valuable time. I once considered calculating the
amount of time I wasted waiting in line each month,
but didnít want to become too depressed.
When I leave my house I know Iím
going to be in one of the most dreaded of lines; the traffic in most
metropolitan areas and even in many rural areas has become intolerable.
The ability of most people to wait in long lines of slow-moving cars on
superhighways is a credit to what they learned in kindergarten. Itís a
wonder there arenít more cases of road rage. There are thousands of
people just wasting their lives sitting in traffic. We spend great amounts
of money on medical science to extend our lives. An easier way to get more
free time on this earth would be to decrease the time we wait in our cars.
My son, a teacher, changed schools and cut his driving time in half. The
half-hour he saved each day amounts to approximately five 24-hour days
each year, time that was wasted sitting in a car. By the time he reaches
retirement heíll have accumulated 175 days of time.
Think of the productivity lost by
workers having to sit in traffic. A nearby interchange has traffic
back-ups of at least five miles every morning. The time to travel five
miles on the interstate should be less than five minutes. It takes 30 to
45 minutes to travel that distance at this interchange on most days, and
this is just one of several bottlenecks that many of the workers who
travel this route will encounter. You do the math.
When voters and political
representatives refuse to accept the responsibility to build roads that
could move workers to their jobs more quickly, I think they are only
hurting themselves. We spend thousands of dollars on drugs attempting to
lower our cholesterol with the objective of obtaining additional time on
this earth. Why not make each day more efficient by reducing the time
spent in lines and achieve the same result ó more free time?
I dislike going to the store because
most of the time Iíll have to wait in line to pay for the products Iím
purchasing. Youíd think the owners would want to quickly get my money.
On several occasions, I just left the items and went to another store.
Stores seem to have plenty of cash registers; they just donít want to
man them. Most of the time less than a quarter of the available check-out
lanes are open. One local store had a sign stating that if more than three
people were in line they would open another register. They were always
violating the promise. Theyíve now taken the sign down. I guess I
wasnít the only one who reminded them of their failure to follow their
own commitments. Some places provide self-checkout services. I use them
when I have a few small items. I just donít feel comfortable listening
to a machine that thinks itís smarter than I am. These machines can
speak more languages than I can. They count and take my money faster than
I can make it, but they donít have a diploma on the wall. I have several
and that makes me feel more secure as I blindly respond to the machineís
Banks are notorious for their lines.
My bank has four lanes for drive-up banking. Most of the time youíre
lucky if two are open, and both of those lanes are controlled by one
teller. They tell me to use the Internet for my banking needs. I do, but
Uncle Sam wonít let me print my own money. Iím usually disturbed when
I go to the bank. Somehow it upsets me that they have my money and make it
so difficult for me to get some of it back. Theyíre always advertising
how friendly they are, but I donít think banks by their very nature are
friendly places; the people may be, but the bank? Ö Nah. These stores
and banks are always telling me that the things they do are for my
protection. If thatís the case, then I should be the one who decides if
I need that protection. Less protection would move the lines a lot faster.
Iím finishing this article after
returning from Florida on the Amtrak Auto Train. This is a great idea to
reduce the number of cars on the road, but it also has lines. I spend an
average of three hours waiting from the time I arrive at the station until
my car is loaded and the train begins to move. When I get to my
destination, seldom is the train on time. Amtrak trains spend a lot of
time waiting on sidetracks because they have a lower priority than freight
trains. When I get to my destination, I have to wait two hours for my car
to be unloaded. A lot of senior citizens were returning from Florida. The
total trip took about 26 hours. It is still far superior to fighting the
lines of traffic on I-95 going 80 m.p.h., and more relaxing. Maybe we
should use more trains?
We say human life is valuable, but we
waste a lot of it in unnecessary lines. If we could bank the minutes we
saved not waiting in line and extend our lives, Iím positive weíd
build more roads, open more registers, and use more mass transportation.
Until that time of awakening, Iíll just learn to bow to a talking
machine and allow freight trains to have a higher priority than human
Iíll close with the words of a
favorite cowboyís song, ďHappy Trails to You.Ē