Dear Aspie: What Are the Rules for Changing Lines?

Dear Aspie:
?If one is waiting in a long line and they open up a new register is there a rule as to how one gets into the new line? e.g., are we supposed to let someone who has waited longer in the previous line in before us? I have had some problems. What is the norm??

–quietangel

Read on for GroovyDruid’s response!
Dear Aspie:
?If one is waiting in a long line and they open up a new register is there a rule as to how one gets into the new line? e.g., are we supposed to let someone who has waited longer in the previous line in before us? I have had some problems. What is the norm??

–quietangel

First, if you and another person are waiting in a line and another register opens up while yours closes, transfering all the customers to the new open register, then the rule is that you form up in the new line just like the old. It’s common sense.

However, I know the sort of ambiguous situation you mean to question: you have the good sense to walk into a newly formed line, and then someone who has been waiting in another line for a while elects to come to or gets placed in your line behind you. You didn’t jump ahead of them, you just got in at a good time.

Ideally, there should be no question. When a new register opens up, the cashier should have the good sense to say, ?I can help the next person in line,? thus taking command of the situation and solving your problem for you.

In the absence of a commanding cashier, there are no unspoken social rules for ordering lines, and the problem becomes one of power and control, really. It?s funny to think of it this way, but it is true, and it?s a situation in which aspies have a lot of trouble.

A simple way to get a feeling for the situation is to say to yourself, ?Who?s in control here?? If the cashier tells people to move from the big line over to his register, he?s in control, and you follow his direction (obviously). If not, and you happen to be in the line first, you have control. You have possession of your place in line, and as they say in the legal profession, ?Possession is nine-tenths of the law.? No matter how many malignant stares are thrust at you, you have every right to be ahead in line and should not feel criminal for being in the right place at the right time.

If you then choose?out of the goodness of your heart?to allow someone who has been waiting longer to move ahead of you, that?s your decision. It sometimes feels good to allow someone to go ahead in accordance with your own ideas of fair play. But you should do it because you feel good about it, not because someone is muttering under his breath about how you cheated him out of his place in line or because you feel guilty.

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