Back The F*ck Up: We Need Some Personal Space While Waiting In Line, Folks

by Joanna McClanahan
JGI / Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Everywhere we go these days, there are lines. We wait in traffic. We wait at the airport. We wait at the grocery store.

And I get it, waiting sucks. But you know what makes waiting in lines that much more annoying? People with zero chill who stand way too close.

So, today, I’m speaking out to those with self-awareness deficiencies with a very important public service announcement: Standing thisclose to the person in front of you does not make the line move any faster.

Not sure if you’re too close? Here are some signs to look out for:

– You can smell me. Or I can smell you. If we are within general smelling distance, you need to back up immediately.

– I can hear/feel your breath on my neck. Holy hell, unless we are intimately involved, there is no need for this to ever happen. – You’re less than an arm’s distance away. If you could spoon me and/or braid my hair from where you’re standing, take a long step back. – You can hear me whisper, “You’re too fucking close,” under my breath.

Can we all agree to give each other some breathing room? And let’s start with the grocery checkout line.

Shopping with two small kids is terrible enough. Every few seconds, I have to tell them to stop touching things. They fight over being in the cart, not being in the cart, or who gets to be in the cart. I have to constantly keep them from being run over by other shoppers. Then when we get to the checkout line, just when I’m about to snap after telling them they can’t have candy for the hundredth time, some person is suddenly breathing down my neck behind me.

And when you bump into me from behind, I try to be polite and understanding. But know that inside I’m screaming, “Dammit, Brenda, this shopping trip has already left me a hollow shell of the person I was when we came in here! Please for the love of all that is holy, BACK UP, because I don’t have any fucks left to give!”

Or waiting in the endless lines at the airport, which is pretty much where all good things go to die.

Have you been to the airport with kids? Turns out waiting in lines is even tougher for them than it is for us. As much as I try to bribe them, threaten them, or straight-up leash them, they are still going to be restless.

So when some dude in a suit stands 3 inches behind me, glaring and sighing, I pretend not to notice. But I want so badly to say, “Hey, Steve, who only flies business class, you’re tripping over my children. Oh, you wish they’d stand still and be quiet while they wait? Same. Good luck trying to rationalize with my cranky 3-year-old. If you think this is bad, just try changing his shitty diaper in an airplane bathroom.”

And maybe we should start calling the close-standers out. I’m not saying that we should be assholes to them, but I don’t think it’s wrong to let someone know they’re a little too close and ask for a little more personal space. Or we could just start violently coughing and see how quick they back up on their own.

We need more space in lines, but the bigger issue here is we need more self-awareness and empathy for others. Be conscious of others and don’t wait for them to hold you accountable. And when in doubt, just back the fuck up.