Sometimes, it’s okay to go outside the lines. Not if you’re coloring. Oh God, no! Neatness counts, so I’ve never been able to intentionally go outside the lines, even when I was a kid, and back then, we had to color in black and white! But lately, I’ve seen a lot of lines, and I’ve been amazed by our difficulty in forming them.

In the photo, you can see me and my family in 20170505_182409line at Disney World. The make it easy. There are railings, chains, curbs, walls, and shrubbery all arranged to point us in the right direction and make us turn where they need us to turn. Sort of like cattle, right? But without the directional aids, humans can’t figure this out.

I’ve witnessed poor line building many times, and it always amazes me. Find any cash register and put a long line of customers in front of it. Guaranteed, there will be one, straight line, that will stretch back to the first immovable object, where it will terminate with a wad of people standing in a clump waiting to get behind the last person. The line will block sidewalks and hallways, it might cross rivers or shallow canyons, and if a door is involved, might reach into the parking lot and across the road where it will block traffic. But it will never, of its own free will, make a 90-degree turn.

You think I’m kidding? You will see this now that I’ve pointed it out for your benefit. I’ve seen it at Wal-Mart when trying to maneuver my cart through the front of the store and trying to squeeze through the line. In Safeway, people look at you like you’re crazy for trying to get through. “Can’t you see there’s a line here?” In Chick-Fil-A, before they put up those Tensa-Barriers (sort of like line-directing seat belts on chrome poles), the line stretched from the register, across the open area, and down the aisle toward the door on the opposite end of the restaurant. One more customer, and they’d have been outside.

Recently, at our Disney World hotel, we had to wait in a fairly long line to get the bus to the House of Mouse, and the line inevitably stretched past the railings into no-man’s land, where the humans did the only thing that seemed safe–they formed a straight line. It reached across the expanse of sidewalk, blocking not only the doors to the hotel, but also the rest of the sidewalk. Potential line fodder actually walked along the curbing that lined the garden in order to squeeze past the line, which of course, did not move to allow them to pass, for fear that they might introduce an unwelcome bend in their beautifully straight line.

The most recent sighting was today at the Farmers’ Market at work, where the most popular (and apparently those with the slowest service) food trucks had lines stretching across the road, blocking the sidewalk, and ending in a blob of humanity at the fence with several potential customers wondering how to get into the line. Some of them left in search of a food truck with a shorter line. Others, just trying to use the sidewalk to get to work, were unable to cross the line, and were forced instead to buy cupcakes from the cupcake truck. Chaos, I tell you.

So, please people… it’s okay to turn.

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