Why People Wait In Lines

by MR Magazine Staff

A many-legged organism winds its way through Soho, crawling the block at an excruciating pace. It strains the flow of New York sidewalk traffic, as ubiquitous as the Eastern gray squirrel, attracting the attention of an alien from Mars. The sound it emits is of low groaning boredom. Passers-by crane their necks, hoping to see all the way to its front. “Why are you waiting?” they inevitably ask. The answer, almost always, is a sneaker or dessert. The sidewalk line is a beast of its own kind, native to the space outside whatever latest bakeshop or store selling limited-edition streetwear. Within the broader genus of lines, it differs from those inside the post office or Starbucks. (I’ll call those normal lines “normal lines.”) All types of lines are a product of math that expresses the rate at which people arrive and how fast a cashier can distribute some stuff. Normal lines are borne from a solvable fluke: too many people, too few cashiers. Sidewalk lines do not want to be solved. They are intentional — cultivated, managed, bred like show dogs. In certain types of luxury transactions, we’ve come to accept them as a predestined fact. Read more at Racked.