Cutting in Line
so I just got off my first phone chat with someone from an online dating app. she was really nice and we talked for 1 hour 45 minutes. it was just nice talking with someone again. it was easy to talk with her. I was super nervous, I haven't been on a "date" since I was 19 years old. we'll see how that whole thing progresses. but it was just nice to do something productive in the love life department. anyhow, on to today's topic (which has been bugging me for some time).
I think the pinnacle of human achievement is the line. you know, the line in which you patiently wait in for your turn to get something. not going to the moon, not vaccinations, not Taco Bell, the line. Americans (and British people too with their "queues", it must be an Anglo-Saxon thing) are the pinnacle of human existence by virtue of their ability to patiently wait in line (again, patience is a virtue). on the other hand you have India and South America. in India, it matters not who is in line, but who can throw dem bows better than the others. this is like a defensive rebounder elbowing a space around him. in Trinidad & Tobago and Peru it was all about who could cram themselves into the train or bus the fastest.
now, lest you say that I am not being "woke" or that I am being racist, let me add that my fellow Austrians (who view themselves as the pinnacle of human creation) are the worst. at least in India and the other countries there is no pretence. in Austria, people pretend like they aren't fucking you. for example. every god damn time I was in a grocery store or a post office or some place that required a line some jackass would come sidling up from behind. I could see them out of the corner of my eye, inching ever so slightly into my peripheral vision. all of a sudden this luddite is standing next to me and within a few more shuffled steps he's not directly in front of me but just ever so slightly ahead of me that it becomes noticeable.
now in comes the concept of necessary confrontation. I subscribe to the maxim that life is riddled with the potential for necessary and unnecessary confrontations on a. daily basis. in my job as attorney, I face necessary confrontations, however, my prowess at being an attorney is knowing where those necessary confrontations lie. in every day life maybe 5% of potential confrontations are necessary. some jackass isn't wearing his mask? fuck it, not necessary. someone doesn't want to vaccinate their kids? sigh, not necessary. someone is slowly sidling up next to you at the post office trying to surreptitiously cut in line: have some fucking respect and self-dignity. plus I think that, if there is low risk of physical assault people should be reminded of the basic decency inherent in the social contract we entered into with our fellow man so that this whole operation can run like a functional society and not a Mexican whorehouse.
anyhow, the cutting in line that prompted this entry was of the figurative not literal kind. I was having lunch with a friend. she let me know, over lunch, that she had gotten the COVID vaccine that day. I thought this was a bit odd as she was my age (i.e.not an at-risk age group) had no underlying issues and also was not in any of the essential positions. I asked her how she got to her shot as my parents had been trying for weeks on end with no luck.
"oh," she quipped, "I never took myself off this teacher's mailing list so I found out about it through that."
"but that was for teachers right?"
"oh yeah, yep, teachers."
"but you're no longer a teacher anymore right?"
at this she put down her fork for a moment, looked pensively up at the ceiling, looked back down, inclined her head at the piece of lettuce she was toying with and responded, "well, no I guess not technically, no."
"sooooo, how did you get it? didn't you need to prove you were a teacher?"
"oh no, I just used the registration form in the link and just went and got it."
a let out a frustrated sigh.
"you remember E?" I asked my friend.
"oh yeah, I remember E, I love her, how's she doing?"
"not so great, you know she has cystic fibrosis."
"mmhmmm," my friend said with a mouthful of hamburger already not liking where this conversation was heading.
"well she's been quarantined at home for the past year and she's desperately trying to get a shot."
"hmmm," my friend replied, thoughtfully chewing her hamburger.
we sat there in silence for a while, masticating. so now, I am sad to say I went against my maxim of unnnecessary confrontation. but E is my oldest friend (I used to have a major crush on her when we were in high school together) and I was just letting it all well up.
"so," I began slowly, tentatively, "you could see how maybe you taking that vaccine would kind of you know," and not knowing the proper adjective for her behaviour I settled on, "suck".
my friend debated this for a while, cocked her head back and said, "well, if I hadn't taken it maybe it would have gone too waste."
"fair point. but you don't know that."
"well, I think it's better that anyone gets vaccinated rather than no-one, you agree with that?"
"yes...I do" I realised my righteous position was dwindling quickly.
"but still, I think about E desperately trying to get a shot and I just feel like you used a technicality to you know......cut in line."
my friend, who I thought would react with outrage, instead folded her arms (somewhat defensively) leaned back, eyed me as if she were a federal judge ruminating on an oral motion I had just presented and retorted, "maybe, I guess I didn't think like that. I just wanted the shot. like I said, better my arm than some dumpster."
she looked around her to see if there were maybe any potential other new friends she could make to replace me and then made her rejoinder, "if you have beef it's with the fucked up state distribution system."
with this she smiled, letting me know that this was my out to resolve this unpleasantness while still maintaining cordiality and I took the opportunity. "yeah, I said," sighed, "I guess you're right. can't blame people for looking out for themselves."
at this my friend scrunched up her nose and wiggled her head, "oh don't say it like that Nick, you make me sound like some asshole billionaire that jumped the line in a private jet." at this she stopped, pursed her lips, furrowed her brow and stated emphatically, "which I'm not."