I’ve been thinking about lining up, how we as Americans line up.
In other countries—England especially comes to mind—people actually do queue up. You can see a line and understand where it begins and ends and know for sure it’s a line.
The only time Americans line up in any reasonable semblance of a line is when we’re in kindergarten and the early grades. At some point after those early years, teachers say, “Line up,” kids cluster, and teachers accept that cluster as a line.
Think about the times you’ve had to ask someone, “Are you in line?” It’s amazing how often I ask that. And all of us have had to search for the end of what we think is a line and had to ask someone if it is the end. And the answer isn’t always yes. Or no. Sometimes people have to think, and look around, to decide if they’re the last ones in line or not. I know; I’ve been there.
A queue in England, and in other places throughout Earth, is just that, a line with a distinct beginning and end.
Here in the United States of American, a queue is a group of people clustered together in all sorts of formations, twos and threes and fives and sometimes ones, but who can really tell?
Yet somehow we know it’s a line.
I like that about us.
I think how we line up—or don’t—is a reflection of the real freedom we have in this country. It’s a reflection of our individuality and of our casualness and ease. Even those of us who can be rigid in other ways are rarely rigid about how we stand in lines.
A lot of you know I taught 8th grade. So I was one of those teachers who said line up and accepted the cluster my kids formed, spreading out along the hallway when we were the only ones in it, and spreading only halfway across when others were present.
At that time in my life, I learned when you let llamas out of the barn in the morning, they all line up together, in a real queue.
I decided then I wanted to raise llamas, just so I could watch them line up.
I do love the freedom I have to stand alongside others in a queue and what it says about us as a people.
I also love seeing an actual line with a beginning and and end.