Respect in the Real World – “cutting in line”

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear Dan Rather speak as part of the Auditorium Speaker series at the American Library Association Conference in Anaheim, CA.    I was a little worried that the Dan Rather I had remembered watching on television would not be the Dan Rather I would hear speak.  He did not disappoint. To be honest he was “plugging” his new book, Rather Unspoken, but he told amazing stories and issued a cautionary tale of the future of our news agencies that are presently controlled by large international corporations. Very interesting and thought-provoking.  After his presentations there was a book signing. So myself and  many other people got on the line to get his book.  We assumed we would be purchasing the book but it was actually free. 🙂

It took a few moments to figure out which way the line was going but within minutes we had all fallen into a “que”. There were two young women right in front of me who seemed to know each other.  For the sake of the story we will call them Friend One and Friend Two. Friend One was holding a boxed easel, portfolio and other supplies.  Her arms were full.  It appeared to me she may be giving a presentation at some point.  Behind me were three ladies who also knew each other. There was small talk and this being the year 2012 many people myself included were busily looking at their smart phones.  After a few minutes I realized there was someone new (Friend 3) standing in front of me.  I thought where did you come from, did I miss seeing you standing there.  The lady behind me caught my eye and gave me a knowing look and commented she wasn’t there before.  I thought “oh well that is a little rude but whatever”.  Now there are three young women in front of me who seem to be friends. Are you confused yet?  Friend One with the easel asks if Friend Two to hold her place in line so she can go deliver the easel to its needed location. “Sure, no problem” So off she goes.

The line is moving slowing but people are chatting with each other.  Since the line went one direction and then doubled back the person standing to your left  and sometimes right changed depending how far into the “maze” you were. A woman commented to me about my lymphedema sleeve and we had a brief conversation about being cancer survivors. I notice that a man’s name badge says Qatar and commented that he is far from home.  There are several comments wondering about if there will be enough books.  Then a woman comes by and she is counting the number of people in line.  She stops less than 10 people behind me and says “after this person we can’t promise that you will get a book. You are welcome to stand in line and meet Mr Rather but you probably won’t get a book.”

Friend Two and Friend Three have been talking and seem oblivious to the”count”.  I say “excuse me but the woman just counted all of us and you may want to tell her that your friend isn’t here so she can include her in the count” Friend Two looks concerned, thanks me and gets out of line to go talk to the “chief counter and line organizer”.  She comes back and states that they can’t hold a place for Friend One.  She seems genuinely upset.  In my mind I am thinking Friend Three should get out of line and give the spot to Friend One.  I mean Friend One was there first.  Granted she did leave but her arms were full. I can hear soft whispers from the ladies behind – oh my, how is this going to go down. After awhile Friend One finally returns and Friend Two shares the bad news. Friend One goes to talk to the “chief counter and line organizer” and we can all see much head shaking. Friend One walks back and states that she wasn’t counted and has no book and  then stares at Friend Three. I think she excepted her to give up her spot since Friend Three had elbowed her way in.  But Friend Three doesn’t  say a word and she doesn’t make eye contact. There is a pause and Friend One walks away, Friend Two seems embarrassed and Friend Three is checking her phone.  And what really make this whole situation fascinating was the day before  Dan Ariely , author of  Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions had given a presentation on studies he has done on “cheating”. Wow, I think this book signing line could have been part of his study.

I do now own a signed copy of Rather Unspoken as do Friend Two and “Friend” Three as well as the ladies behind me.

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