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Lines

Lines. My husband hates them; he has a phobia about the lines he has to wait on, you know with other people standing in front of you and behind you. For him – the people are always in Front. He truly does pick the wrong line every time. I’ve seen this happen over the past 40 years. Let me give you an example of this past Saturday, alone:

We had to make two stops at the post office and the bank before they closed. He impatiently revved the engine at the traffic light. First stop was the bank. He went in and I waited in the car. When he returned I didn’t dare ask him why he took so long. But he told me anyway: “The lady in front of me was showing the teller pictures of her grandchildren. All nine of them.”

“Awww…” I said.

“Whatever.” He puts the car in reverse.

Next, we pulled up to the post office. “Want me to go in?” I offered.

“No, I’ve only got one letter. I’ll be quick.”

When he returned to the car, I could see the beads of perspiration on his nose. “Lady in front of me got $2900 worth of money orders. I swear she counted the cash out in singles.”

I tried not to smirk and changed the subject. “Looks like rain I said. Let’s go to a movie later if the sun doesn’t come out.” He nodded, forgetting how annoyed he was. The drizzle continued most of the day so we ended up in the theatre. “One of us should go on the ticket line, and the other on the candy line. Which one do you choose?” I asked.

“Uh, the wrong one?” His gaze was pin-straight as he walked toward the candy counter. Sure enough – the wrong line.

A lady ripped our tickets and returned our stubs. We wait in theatre #5 watching 352 previews and Bruce fell asleep about two minutes after the title of our movie showed.

When the movie was over, it was my turn to drive. “Hungry?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s early enough. Let’s go to Outback.”

“Outback?” I said. “Isn’t that the place that’s always packed?”

He shot me a serious look. “It’s early though. I think we may have a chance.”

There were a lot of cars in the parking lot of the restaurant, but he looked very determined. Once inside, the girl asked our name, and we took the vibrating thingy from her and sat in a dark corner, away from the crowd. Tick tock…tick tock. Finally, red lights flash in a circle around the vibrator, and Bumbling Bruce throws it across the room. He always was a “jumpy” fellow. We gave our order and waited…and waited some more. I didn’t bother telling Bruce about the air conditioner drip that was hitting my shoulder. Drip. Drip. There was no way I’d make him wait for another table.

On the way home, I dared to ask if he’d mind stopping at McDonalds for an ice cream. He didn’t want one, but agreed. There were cars at the drive-through window, and yet inside it appeared pretty empty, so Bruce hopped out of the car while it was still moving, happy about his decision to beat the system.

I must have listened to the whole track of “Goin’ Home” by the Stones and “Stairway to Heaven” by Zeppelin, when I realized he was still gone. I noticed uniformed employees gathered in the parking lot. Changing of shifts, I figured. I looked at the drive-through window again, and there was a whole different line of cars waiting.

Bruce returned with a blank stare on his beet red face. “Can you see me?” he asked, pinching his arm. “I was invisible…I mean it. A line of people suddenly accumulated…they were coming and going with their food, but no one saw me. I’m telling you, it was like I was invisible. When I got to the counter, the girl who was supposed to help me just walked away from the register and left me standing there like I didn’t exist. The line to the left moved, the line to the right, too. But me, I just waited, like Casper. Finally, I heard a voice, “Do you need help?”

“Yes, yes I do, I told her. But I went blank. Then I remembered what you wanted, but I couldn’t get the words out…I was so flabbergasted, I stuttered like hell. I may as well have recited Sally Sells Seashells by the Seashore. What a stupid name — “Slo-f-f Slerve Clone.”

The ice cream cone dripped down Bruce’s arm and he shoved it at me. “Here! Here’s your chemically-infused cone.”

“Really?” I ask, licking the cone. “You have no trouble saying chemically-infused, but you couldn’t say soft serve cone?”

“I choked.”

“Mmm…This is yummy. Want some?”

“NO-O-O!”

“Maybe you should have just stayed home today.”

“I should have. But with my luck, there was probably a line to get in.”

The gas light goes on in the car driving home, but I didn’t say anything, praying we’d make it home; as we passed the Hess station I see a line of cars at the pumps. Good call. Phew!

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Published by Janet Berg

Janet Lee Berg is a novelist and a blogger, who is known for her freelance writing on the east end of Long Island, NY, including Dan’s Papers. Keep an eye out for the release of her upcoming novel Rembrandt's Shadow, a Holocaust-related story about Sylvie Rosenberg, the privileged daughter of a prominent Dutch art dealer, who never knows her father's love until the day he trades his beloved Rembrandt to the Nazis in exchange for her life.

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