From Oct. 28th, 2011 | 04:36 pm
We have a challenge with our lunch line: one of our rules is no cutting. That seems straightforward, but it is not. People arrive at noon, line up at 12:45, and lunch begins at 1pm. After you have gone once through the line you are permitted through a second time.
So people who arrive at 1:10 or 1:20 must to go to the end of the line. And ahead of you are people who already have lunch; they are holding a bag and it has food in it. And you don't have food, and you want to go to the head of the line, because you didn't get lunch yet. But we don't allow cutting.
There are people who can't wait in line. People who have disabilities for sure, using a cane, or with dizziness or some sort of challenge. And people who can't stand still and can't wait in lines and can't follow rules. They hang out visiting with folk and then we say the prayer and the line starts moving, and they move to the friend "where their friend was holding their place". But we don't allow cutting.
I'd guess that half the people we speak to about cutting the line simply follow the rule and go to the back of the line. The other half leave in frustration that we are totally unfair. And so I found myself Sunday checking out what was happening when a man said “hey, you can't cut”.
I came over and stood, looking up at a very tall Hispanic man who was extremely angry saying very forcefully "you cannot cut the line".
And the man said, "I haven't eaten yet."
And I said, "There is plenty, but you have to go to the end of the line."
"Well then I won't eat" he harumphed and stomped away.
One of the others ahead of him was a regular at our lunch, and was angry that the man would even CONSIDER cutting, so he needed to say that, too, hollering at the guy as he left:
"Why the f** do you always cut the line?" and "Why can't you go to the end of the line?"
And so the man came back to the line and started screaming back "I'll go anywhere I d*&$ well please" and "why don't you mind your own business?"
And so now I am standing between two tall men saying in my most grown up, deep, calm, and forceful voice: "Stop fighting and do not cut the line." Repeat eight times.
And the line continues forward, without my cutting man. And the very tall Hispanic man behind this whole scene, the one who first said "hey, you can't cut", that one, right there, with the white shirt and blue stripes, he takes a lunch bag without a word, and heads back to the end of the line, stopping for just barely a second to hand his entire lunch to the guy who had cut and was now sulking on the benches.
He goes through the line again, and gets a second lunch, this one for himself. Without a word.