8.25 Get in Line

Last week, I was at an event and waited in line at the open bar. Since it was an open bar, the lines were long. As we inched closer to the bartenders, I spotted them, right away. Two people, a couple. I’m assuming they were a couple because they wore matching black hats. They walked slowly between the line and the bar, moving their way up. When they reached where we were standing, they slid into the line right in front of us.

The three other people I was with stopped talking and turned to them. The people with the matching hats simply looked at each other and with an eye roll, silently said, What’s their problem?

So, I said to them, “What’s my problem? I’ll tell you what’s my problem: you.”

They were a bit shocked that I broke the social contract of not calling out jerks. I continued.

There are rules put in place for a reason. Okay, so I do agree that in some cases rules are made to be broken. For example, art. That’s how art evolves, by people learning the craft and figuring out how to go behind the predetermined boundaries. However, this particular case is not about art. It’s about how you are jerks.

These rules, such as don’t cut in line in front of people who had been waiting, exist to maintain some semblance of order. For, without order, there is simply chaos. I know it might seem strange or hyperbolic of me to compare what you are doing to a systematic breakdown of society, but just go with me on this for a moment.

Okay, so you’ve already made the jerk move of cutting in line in front of some well meaning and good people. You’ve now put that thought in one of our heads. Later that evening, when I’m driving home on the highway, there’s a lot of traffic. I decide to jump on to the shoulder and speed along, passing all the dummies waiting in a long line of cars. I see an opening and cut off another car, who has to slam on his brakes. The car behind that one has to quickly swerve out of the way, causing the young eight year old girl in the backseat to be thrown to the side. When she is thrown to the side, she uses her right arm to stop from falling over. This causes her wrist to bend at an unnatural angle, and there is an audible pop that emanates from her hand.

You might say that this doesn’t sound like that big of a deal. I mean, we all feel bad about the girl’s wrist, but no one got killed or anything, right?

What you don’t know is that that little girl was going to grow up and create the most sophisticated algorithm the world has ever seen. It changes the way the internet works, transforming it into what we always hoped it would be: a place for education, the exchange and flow of information and the ability to create empathy across cultures. There is a wave of change and all the internet trolls, bigots and terrible people online disappear overnight. We evolve as a species and have only respect for each other and help one another. That little girl, now a woman, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

But none of that happens.

When she sprained her wrist, she was instructed to not use a computer for six months. Before the sprain, she had a deep passion for creating complex computer programs. After those six months, she mostly was interested in sitting around watching television.

The algorithm that helped make the world a peaceful place is never made. The world slowly falls into decay. More and more civilized societies are resembling The Purge and eventually, a racist, narcissistic man child is put in charge of the nukes and causes the destruction of two thirds of the world. The remaining third lapses into complete chaos and the breakdown of any recognizable democratic state.

So, yeah, when you cut in line, you’re not just cutting in front of a few people. You’re starting a chain of events that will lead to the end of the world.

Okay, I did not say any of this to them. I mostly gave them the stink eye and over the next few days told everyone that would listen about these two jerks. What I’m trying to say is: don’t cut in line.

Paul Dore