DEAR MISS MANNERS: When visiting a bank to be seen by a teller, at what point are you officially in line?
I entered a bank to cash a check, and as I did not need any paperwork, I passed the kiosk where two women were filling out forms, and promptly stood in the line. A few moments later, the women joined me. One began to loudly complain to the other that I had "cut" in front of them.
I listened and then told her that I hadn't and that she was not ready. You can't actively wait in line if you are still getting everything in order.
We had a few more words and before it became heated, I left my spot and walked to the very back of the line, which now had five more people who had entered. The whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth. Was I a line-cutter?
GENTLE READER: Sometimes a line is a social convention: When multiple lines jump over an aisle and then feed into a single point, both the continuity of the line and the need for alternation are implied. But usually, a line is just a line.
Miss Manners has not, herself, perfected the technique of standing in line, balancing a form on her left hand while writing with her right and shuffling forward with her feet. But she has seen it done.
The people filling out forms elsewhere were not in line, and therefore you did not cut in front of them. But you were prudent to cut out.